Federal Funding Opportunities and Guidance – May 6, 2024

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Below you will find resources and information on:

DOE’s Renew America’s Schools Program

1) Department of Energy’s (DOE) Renew America’s Schools Program

Applications are open for the 2024 Renew America’s Schools Prize, which will award an anticipated $180 million to districts across the country engaging in strategic partnerships to build capacity and implement energy upgrades in their schools. Eligible submissions will lower utilities costs, improve indoor air quality, and foster healthier learning environments across a portfolio of 10 or more school facilities. The Prize will invest in school facilities that demonstrate the need for both energy improvements and financing, with a focus on Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) that qualify as disadvantaged and/or rural. Competitors submitting proposals should be organizations or teams with the capacity to aggregate and manage projects across a portfolio.

The 2024 Renew America’s Schools Prize is a 3-phase award. During Phase 1, competitors will build teams and curate lists of schools/school facilities that demonstrate both need and eligibility for investment. Each Phase 1 Winner will earn a cash prize of $300,000 and move on to Phases 2 and 3, during which they will enter and execute a Cooperative Agreement with DOE. Awards made in Phases 2 and 3 will vary by portfolio size but could range from $7.5 million to $15 million. DOE will issue the largest awards to portfolios serving 20 or more schools/school facilities, offering a total of $15,300,000 to Winners in this category for completing all three phases.

To facilitate the formation of project teams for this Prize, DOE is continuing to gather information for the “Teaming Partner List.” The Teaming Partner List allows prospective participants on an application to express their interest to other competitors, explore potential partnerships, and form project teams. The Teaming Partner List will be regularly updated to reflect new teaming partners who provide their organization’s information. For additional information and to spread the word:

  1. Visit the HeroX site for weekly updates to the Teaming Partner list, to find information about webinars and office hours, and to start your application!
  2. Visit the Renew America’s Schools website and read the Fact Sheet to learn more about the 2024 Renew America’s Schools Prize.
  3. Add your email HERE to receive updates about the Renew America’s Schools Program.
  4. Follow instructions in the Media Promotion Toolkit to amplify the news about applications opening for the 2024 Renew America’s Schools Prize.
  5. Share this email with any media contacts who are interested in covering the news through their channels (newsletters, social media, press, blogs, etc.).
Reach out to Schools@doe.gov, or visit the Renew America’s Schools website with any questions. Submissions for the 2024 Renew America’s Schools Prize are due on Thursday, June 13 at 5PM ET.

2024 Clean Heavy-Duty Vehicles (CHDV) Grant Program

2) 2024 Clean Heavy-Duty Vehicles (CHDV) Grant Program and Informational Webinar

EPA announced the launch of the 2024 Clean Heavy-Duty Vehicles Grant Program to fund the replacement of non-zero-emission Class 6 and Class 7 heavy-duty vehicles with zero-emission vehicles. The EPA expects to offer up to $932 million in funding for high-quality applications that propose to serve communities across the country, particularly those overburdened by air pollution. At least $400 million will be used to fund projects in communities in air quality nonattainment areas. Applicants must submit all application materials by July 25, 2024, at 11:59pm ET.

Eligible applicants to the Clean Heavy-Duty Vehicles Grant Program include:

  • States, including U.S. territories;
  • Municipalities, including public school districts;
  • Indian Tribes; and
  • Nonprofit school transportation associations.

Vehicles eligible for replacement under the Clean Heavy-Duty Vehicles Grant Program include:

  • Class 6 and Class 7 school buses
  • Other non-school bus Class 6 and Class 7 vehicles, including (but not limited to): Refuse Haulers/Dump Trucks, Class 6/7 Transit Buses, Delivery Trucks, Utility Trucks, Bucket Trucks, Other Box Trucks

Eligible activities and costs for the Clean Heavy-Duty Vehicles Grant Program include:

  • The incremental cost of replacing a non-zero-emission Class 6/7 heavy-duty vehicle with a Class 6/7 zero-emission vehicle.
  • The purchase and installation of fueling infrastructure that will support vehicles replaced under this program.
  • Driver/mechanic training related to the maintenance and operation of new vehicles and supporting fueling infrastructure, and vehicle warranties.
  • Costs directly related to the implementation, management, and oversight of the project, including recipient and subrecipient personnel and benefits, contractual services, consulting on vehicle deployments, travel, supplies, and indirect costs.

Potential applicants without a Grants.gov or System for Award Management (SAM.gov) accounts are encouraged to initiate the registration process for each account as soon as possible since the registration process can take a month or more.

EPA’s Environmental and Climate Justice Community Change Grants (Community Change Grants)

3) NRDC Community Change 101 Webinar

NRDC’s Community Change 101 Webinar will dive into the process of developing a competitive application for EPA’s Community Change Grants, including information on eligibility, partner relationships, recommended projects, along with tips and tricks to ensure a competitive application. The webinar will be led by featured speaker Matthew Tejada, an original architect of the EPA Community Change Grants, and a leader in environmental justice and advocacy. As NRDC’s Senior Vice President of Environmental Health, Tejada oversees initiatives to safeguard public health through clean air, water, and combating toxic exposures, and brings an extensive background in environmental justice from his tenure at the EPA’s Office for Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights. Register here for the webinar on Wednesday, May 8, at 1pm ET/10am PT, and if you’re interested in receiving additional information on the EPA Community Change grants, please fill out this intake form or reach out to cmendonsa@nrdc.org, and you’ll be added to their CCG specific resources listserv.

4) Build America, Buy America Act (BABA) Webinar

The Build America, Buy America Act (BABA) mandates that all federally-funded infrastructure projects must utilize American-made products. As you prepare your Community Change Grant project proposal, it’s essential to consider whether BABA applies to your initiatives. Register to join EPA for a webinar on April 25, 3-4pm ET, to learn about BABA. This webinar will help you ensure that your application is crafted with BABA compliance in mind, reflects items made in the U.S. in your budget, outlines project timelines for infrastructure projects, and allocates adequate staffing for compliance monitoring. You can find more information about the Build America, Buy America Act on EPA’s BABA website.

5) EPA’s Community Change Grants Recorded Webinars

Beginning in January, EPA held a series of informational webinars (organized by EPA contractor EnDyna), designed to provide Technical Assistance (TA) to communities who need support navigating the Community Change Grants process. Topics covered during these webinars ranged from applicant eligibility to preparing a grant budget. Recordings of these webinars can be viewed at communitychangeta.org. In addition, if you attended any Community Change Technical Assistance webinars, please provide your feedback by completing this short survey. Your feedback is crucial in helping EnDyna improve future sessions and ensuring their webinars are informative, engaging, and accessible.

6) 6-step Application Guides for Community Change Grants

Please continue to use our comprehensive and easy-to-navigate 6-step application guides for your Community Change Grant applications. You will also find a sample proposal narrative and budget template for Track 1 and Track II, plus additional templates/samples for Track I attachments. Although the final deadline for the Change Grants is November 21, 2024, EPA plans to review applications on a rolling basis each month, and there may be initial award announcements soon. EPN suggests that applicants (who are ready) submit applications ASAP and no later than the end of July. Please fill out this form if you would like additional help.

DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) Program

7) Deadline Extension for the EECBG Program

The deadline to apply for the EECBG Program has been extended to October 31, 2024. Applicants are encouraged to submit before the deadline, as applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Updated resources for this opportunity are now available:

  • 1:1 Application Support: 1:1 application support is available to all eligible governments at no cost. Sign up for assistance here: TCTAC EECBG Support Form (jotform.com). And for general questions, write to EECBG@hq.doe.gov.  
  • Application Support Webinar Slides: DOE recently held a webinar that covered commonly asked questions about the application, including the differences between the grant and voucher application options, compliance and reporting requirements, and DOE resources to assist with the application process. See the slides and recording from that presentation. You can also access the links on the DOE website.  
  • Template Applications: DOE recently published template traditional formula grant applications and example Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategies (from already awarded local governments!) Take a look here. 
  • Bi-weekly Office Hours: If you have questions you’d like addressed by a member of the EECBG Program team, sign up for a session here. 
  • New Blueprint How-to-Guides: The EECBG Program team has released Blueprint How-to-Guides for select Blueprint topic areas that pair with already- published Blueprints. How-to-Guides go into further detail and provide more granular steps, recommendations, and resources within each key activity to help support implementation of EECBG Program projects. So far, published How-to-Guides include: Blueprint 1 (Energy Planning), Blueprint 2A (Energy Audits, Building Upgrades), Blueprint 2C (Building Efficiency & Electrification Campaign), and Blueprint 3A (Solar & Storage – Power Purchase Agreements and Direct Ownership). Additional How-to-Guides will be published soon.

Direct Pay Resources

8) IRS Office Hours – Elective Pay/Direct Pay

The IRS will be holding office hours (through Microsoft Teams) to help entities with the pre-filing registration process on the new IRA/CHIPS Pre-filing Registration Tool. Pre-filing registration is a required step for applicable entities and eligible taxpayers to take advantage of elective payment/direct pay or transfer of credits available in the Inflation Reduction Act and CHIPS Act. Representatives from the IRS will be available to answer pre-filing registration questions. Registration is required and can be completed by clicking on the links below.

May 1, 2024 1-2:30 PM EDT Register Here
May 8, 2024 1-2:30 PM EDT Register Here
May 15, 2024 1-2:30 PM EDT Register Here

9) Cash for Communities: Leveraging Historic Federal Funds for Racial, Economic, and Climate Justice

Thanks to new Direct Pay tax credits in the Inflation Reduction Act, projects like solar panels on every school, an electrified fleet of city vehicles, and climate resilience hubs in every neighborhood, could be possible at a fraction of the typical cost. And local governments, schools, and other tax-exempt entities who’ve built this type of project in 2023 could be eligible for cash NOW. Join the Congressional Progressive Caucus Center and the Local Progress Impact Lab on Thursday, May 9, at 1pm ET/ 10am PT to learn how local policymakers can lead the way and help communities seize this opportunity. RSVP here.

Webinars, Information, and Workshops

10) Pro Bono Legal Assistance Providers Forum

The Anthropocene Alliance (A2) and the Environmental Protection Network (EPN) will be co-hosting monthly virtual discussions at 1pm eastern on the second Wednesday of every month, focused on federal funding and other topics of interest for frontline and environmental justice communities nationally.

To be added to the monthly calendar invites or to suggest topics for future discussions, email Harriet@AnthropoceneAlliance.org.

11) EPA’s Online Collection of Environmental Justice Resources

The Environmental Justice Clearinghouse is an online collection of resources related to environmental justice, and will help the public access federal and non-federal resources online. EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights will continue to add information to the clearinghouse on a rolling basis and welcomes input and any submissions from the public for review and potential inclusion.

The preliminary resources listed on the Environmental Justice Clearinghouse were submitted by agencies from across the federal government, including funding opportunities, screening and mapping tools, and technical assistance. The Environmental Justice Clearinghouse features searchable categories to simplify results for the public to ensure a more efficient and accessible process for accessing information related to environmental justice. Visit EPA’s website to view the Environmental Justice Clearinghouse or submit a potential resource.

12) California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control’s (DTSC) new Technical Assistance Grant (TAG) program

The TAG program provides vulnerable communities in California with the resources to become active participants, leaders, and advocates in the investigation and cleanup of contaminated sites that affect them. Grants from $40,000-$150,000 are available for communities to hire and direct an independent technical advisor who can assist in analyzing, interpreting, and communicating complex environmental information to residents living near an active DTSC cleanup project. 

San Diego State University’s Center for Community Energy and Environmental Justice (CCEEJ), the Environmental Protection Network, and the Center for Creative Land Recycling are hosting two short interactive sessions to introduce you to this new grant opportunity. The first session will provide an overview of the program, and the second will dive into how to build a grant budget. Both sessions will include ample time for Q&A.

Part 1: Introducing DTSC’s New Technical Assistance Grant Program!, Wednesday, May 8, at Noon PST. Register here.

Part 2: Building a TAG Budget, Wednesday, May, at Noon PST. Register here.

To learn more about this program, please visit https://dtsc.ca.gov/tag/, where resources are available in both English and Spanish.

13) EPA Introduction to the Clean Water State Revolving Fund

On Wednesday, May 15, at 2pm ET, EPA will present an Introduction to the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, providing the basics of the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF), one of the most robust sources of low-cost financing available for wastewater, storm­water, and many other infrastructure projects that help protect water quality. In addition to the CWSRF’s baseline funding, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) has invested $12.7 billion into the program, a significant portion of which is provided as loan forgiveness to disadvantaged communities or projects addressing emerging contaminants. In this webinar, you will learn:  

How the CWSRF program works.

  • What types of projects the CWSRF program can fund.
  • How to successfully apply for financing.
  • Real world examples and experiences from community recipients.
  • What resources are available for information and technical assistance.
  • Where to go for more information and breaking news about future oppor­tunities!

The webinar will also include an opportunity to submit questions. This presenta­tion will be recorded and EPA will post a link to the recording and slides after the webinar. Register HERE.

14) Leveraging Community Benefit Frameworks: Empowering Communities to Benefit from Federally Funded Energy Projects

Join the National Academies for an energy equity event on May 16-17 that focuses on community-driven project development. During this two-day workshop, experts and thought leaders from communities, community organizations, federal agencies, academia, and the private sector will:

  • Explore DOE’s Community Benefit Plan (CBP) process and inform future iterations of the CBP process
  • Learn from successes and failures with Community Benefit Agreements (CBAs) and other community benefit frameworks
  • Empower underserved and vulnerable groups to leverage federal grants and better navigate project negotiations
  • Foster collaboration, mutual learning, and actionable opportunities for stakeholder engagement, shaping a future where energy equity can be a reality for all.

Participants are invited to attend online or in person at the National Academy of Sciences building in Washington, D.C. Register to attend, download the agenda, and watch the webcast on the event page.

Update on EPN’s Work

To read more about our work in the last two months, please check out the latest edition of our bimonthly newsletter: EPN In Action: March-April 2024. Here are some highlights of our most recent work:

Announcement: We were thrilled to recently learn that we assisted 4 grantees of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund’s Solar for All grant program, who were awarded a total of more than $530 million. We provided all four organizations with instructions and templates on how to assemble and submit an application, answered questions, reviewed draft applications, and provided suggested edits to strengthen their applications

Staff Update: We are excited to introduce Community Outreach Associate Olivia Smith, who works with communities in EPA Region 5, and is the latest addition to our pro bono capacity-building technical assistance program! To date, we have connected more than 170 EPN volunteers to over 900 communities and NGOs, and have helped communities access over $540 million in federal funding.

National Policy Updates:
– EPN sent a letter to congressional committees on PFAS exemptions from the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).
– EPN submitted comments on EPA’s proposal to expand the scope of constituents under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Section 3004(u).
– EPN also submitted comments on EPA’s White Paper describing the benefits of structured and digital content labels for pesticide products.
– EPN submitted comments on EPA’s proposal to amend the definition of hazardous waste applicable to corrective action for releases from solid waste management units.