The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced the availability of at least $400 million in grants from the agency’s Clean School Bus Program.
This is the first round of funding available as grants and follows the nearly $1 billion the Biden-Harris administration awarded through the rebate competition last year to fund electric and low-emission school buses across school districts.
The grant opportunity will fund electric, propane and compressed natural gas (CNG) buses that will produce either zero or low tailpipe emissions compared to their older diesel predecessors. EPA says it is prioritizing applications that will replace buses serving high-need local education agencies, Tribal school districts funded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs or those receiving basic support payments for students living on Tribal land, and rural areas.
Eligible applicants for this funding opportunity are (1) state and local governmental entities that provide bus service; (2) public charter school districts, (3) Indian tribes, tribal organizations, or tribally controlled schools, (4) nonprofit school transportation associations, and (5) eligible contractors (including OEMs, dealers, school bus service providers and private bus fleets).
Applicants have two options to apply:
- Applicants seeking to serve a single school district can apply through the School District Sub-Program to request a minimum of 15 school buses and up to a maximum of 50 school buses;
- Applicants seeking to serve at least four school districts can apply through the third-party Sub-program to request between 50 school buses and up to a maximum of 100 school buses.
EPA will provide a combined funding amount to cover both bus and infrastructure costs for all awardees requesting electric school buses. Prioritized applicants may apply for up to $395,000 when applying for larger school buses and associated infrastructure, and other applicants may apply for up to $250,000 for larger school buses and associated infrastructure.
To encourage federal funding to support the replacement of as many buses as possible, EPA will also offer points in the competition to those who can offer voluntary funding through public-private partnerships, grants from other entities or school bonds.
Electric vehicle charging infrastructure must be installed by electricians certified by the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program (EVITP) or a comparable program approved by the Department of Labor. Funding from the Clean School Bus program can also be used to support workforce training and certifications such as EVITP.
Grant applicants may submit proposals after the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO), which is publicly posted at EPA’s Clean School Bus Program webpage. EPA says this is a competitive program where applicants will be scored based on how well their proposal meets the criteria set forth within the NOFO. The Clean School Bus Grant Program will be open for 120 days and close on Tuesday, August 22. Questions about applying may be directed to CleanSchoolBus@epa.gov.