With up to $5 billion in funding, the Clean School Bus Program is a historic opportunity to make electric school buses the American standard.
After years of tireless advocacy by individuals and organizations nationwide, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law of 2021 delivered a major win for students with the creation of the EPA’s Clean School Bus Program (CSBP).
The historic program designates $5 billion to replace diesel school buses over the next five years, bringing cleaner air to students across the country.
2023 Grant Program
In April 2023, the EPA announced the second round of funding through the CSBP, a $400 million grant round with applications due August 22, 2023. This second round of funding will prioritize high-need school districts and low-income areas, with an expanded definition including large public school districts, rural school districts, Bureau of Indian Affairs-funded school districts, and school districts that receive basic support payments for children who reside on Indian land.
This round includes two sub-programs: one for individual school district and Tribal applicants and one for third-party applicants (eligible contractors, including OEMs, dealers, school bus service providers, and private bus fleets) to serve at least four school district beneficiaries. A list of priority school districts can be found here.
The grant application will allow for a minimum of 15 buses and up to 50 buses for school district applicants and for a minimum of 50 and up to 100 school buses for third-party applicants serving at least four school districts. The EPA anticipates making 25-50 cooperative agreements under this grant program, split among the EPA regions.
Learn more about applying for the 2023 grant round
As in past rounds, funding from the grant program can be used for workforce training and certifications, in addition to school bus purchases and infrastructure installment. The grant application deadline is August 22, 2023, with an anticipated notification of selection November 2023 to January 2024 and awards anticipated to occur February to March 2024.
The EPA is offering a number of ways to learn more, including:
- An information session to be held on Wednesday, May 10, 2023, at 3:00 p.m. (ET), with registration information still to come.
- Training on the grants management process
- Answers to questions sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
To find out more about the 2023 grant application, click here.
2022 Rebate Program
On October 26, EPA released a list of 2022 Rebate award recipients and a waitlist for the first round of Clean School Bus Program Funding, with 95% of awards going to electric school buses. Due to overwhelming demand for electric school buses, EPA nearly doubled its initial $500 million rebate offering and instead made $956 million dollars available for low- and zero-emission school buses. Thanks to these awards, a zero-tailpipe-emissions electric school bus is on the way to every state!
2022 rebate award recipients must purchase orders demonstrating that new buses and eligible infrastructure have been ordered. Find out more information in your award letter or on EPA’s website.
Here are three tips to get you started (find a full list of tips here):
- Designate a project manager and schedule recurring meetings with your internal team.
- Start infrastructure planning immediately with your electric utility.
- Compare available bus models and identify training needs to incorporate into a contract (RFI).
If you purchase an electric or alternative fuel bus, your district might be eligible for even more money through tax credits in the Inflation Reduction Act that become available January 1, 2023. Tax-exempt entities, like school districts, will qualify for some of the tax credit provisions through direct pay or a transfer of credits. Tax credits may include 45W for Qualified Commercial Clean Vehicles (up to $40,000 per electric bus purchased – read this 2-pager) and 30C for Alternative Fuel Refueling Property (up to $100,000 per charger, for low-income or non-urban census tracts – read this 2-pager).
You can also explore financing and funding options at the state, local, and utility level.
School districts at any stage can get started with the following tools and resources:
- The EPA 2023 CSBP Grant Notice of Funding Opportunity has all the details about the 2023 grant round of funding
- Our Step-by-Step Guide for School Bus Electrification provides considerations and things to do at every stage of the process
- The Electric School Bus U.S. Market Study and Buyer’s Guide compares available bus models
- The All About Series of explainers on everything from charging infrastructure to funding and financing models
- The Electric School Bus Series spotlights success stories from across the U.S. (and Canada!)
- Resources for working with your utility and visualizing electrical infrastructure at your facility
WRI’s Electric School Bus Initiative is offering free, independent support to all school districts through Office Hours twice a week. Registration is requested for both Group Office Hours and 1:1 Appointments.
Many other organizations provide technical assistance and education on electric school buses – view a list of WRI’s partners here. For example, you can join CALSTART’s Electric School Bus Working Groups, which are held quarterly and divided up by EPA region. You can also seek assistance from EPA and its partners, Clean Cities Coalitions, and local organizations with EV expertise.