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Energy Department opens new round of grants for school facility upgrades

March 21, 2024
The second round of the Renew America Schools Prize will award $180 million to K-12 schools for energy upgrades.

The U.S. Department of Energy has opened applications for the 2024 Renew America's Schools Prize, which will award $180 million to districts engaging in strategic partnerships to build capacity and carry out energy upgrades at K-12 schools.

The aim of the awards is to lower energy use and costs, improve indoor air quality, and foster more healthful learning environments.

“There’s nothing more critical than investing in the health and education of our nation’s children,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. "This program's first round of funding saw an unprecedented influx of applications, requesting billions in school infrastructure upgrades."

The 2024 Renew America’s Schools Prize will invest an anticipated $180 million in school facilities that demonstrate the need for energy improvements and financing. The program will focus on schools that serve disadvantaged communities, including those with a high percentage of students eligible for free and reduced-price lunch, or which qualify as rural.

The energy department says in a news release that eligible improvements – such as new HVAC and ventilation systems, building envelope and lighting projects, alternative fuel (such as electric) vehicles and infrastructure, and renewable energy technologies – will improve energy performance or lead to improvements in student, educator, and staff health.

By reducing energy use, these improvements can reduce building operating costs – the second highest operational expense for schools.

Learning environments that have been enhanced with better indoor air quality, lighting, and other upgrades can boost student health outcomes and improve overall well-being and academic performance, the energy department says.

Competitive proposals will consist of energy assessments and building improvement projects across a portfolio of 10 or more school facilities.  A portfolio may be composed of school facilities from one or more districts. 

In 2023, this program's first round of funding awarded $178 million in Renew America’s Schools grants, which benefited over 90 school facilities across 22 states.

Applications for the 2024 Renew America’s Schools Prize are due on June 13.

To access the 2024 Renew America’s Schools Prize, visit https://www.herox.com/renewschoolsprize. To view the tools and resources that will support an application, visit /scep/renew-americas-schools.

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy has been writing about education for American School & University since 1999. He also has reported on schools and other topics for The Chicago Tribune, The Kansas City Star, The Kansas City Times and City News Bureau of Chicago. He is a graduate of Michigan State University.

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