EPA’s Clean School Bus Program Enters Second Round of Funding

by | May 10, 2023

A yellow school bus.

(Credit: Canva Pro)

In a significant victory for advocates of clean air and sustainable transportation, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law of 2021 introduced the EPA’s Clean School Bus Program (CSBP). This groundbreaking initiative aims to improve air quality for students nationwide by replacing diesel school buses with cleaner, zero-emission alternatives.

With a designated budget of $5 billion over the next five years, the program has already made substantial progress. Now, in 2023, the EPA has announced the second round of funding, which furthers its commitment to promoting a healthier environment for students across the country.

Prioritizing the Clean School Bus Program for High-Need Districts 

The second round of funding through the CSBP involves a $400 million grant program, with applications due by August 22, 2023. This round focuses on prioritizing high-need school districts and low-income areas, expanding the definition to include large public school districts, rural school districts, Bureau of Indian Affairs-funded school districts, and districts receiving basic support payments for children residing on Indian land. By targeting these areas, the program aims to address environmental disparities and ensure equitable access to clean transportation solutions.

Two Sub-Programs for Enhanced Impact

To maximize the impact of the grant program, the second round includes two sub-programs. The first is for individual school district and Tribal applicants, enabling them to directly benefit from the funds. The second sub-program caters to third-party applicants, such as eligible contractors, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), dealers, school bus service providers, and private bus fleets. These third-party applicants must serve at least four school district beneficiaries, further extending the reach of the program and its positive impact.

Grant Application Details

School district applicants in the CSBP can apply for a minimum of 15 buses and up to 50 buses. Third-party applicants can request a minimum of 50 and up to 100 school buses, serving at least four districts. 

The EPA anticipates making 25-50 cooperative agreements under this grant program. For effective implementation, the EPA will divide them among different EPA regions.

The grant program’s funding can be utilized not only for school bus purchases and infrastructure installments but also for workforce training and certifications. This approach ensures that schools and districts have the necessary support to transition successfully to cleaner transportation options while building capacity within their communities.

The deadline for submitting grant applications is August 22, 2023. Following the application period, the EPA aims to notify selected applicants between November 2023 and January 2024. The final awards are anticipated to occur from February to March 2024, enabling successful applicants to commence their efforts in transitioning to cleaner, zero-emission school buses.

The EPA’s Clean School Bus Program (CSBP) has ushered in a new era of environmentally conscious student transportation. By allocating $5 billion over five years, the program aims to replace diesel school buses with cleaner alternatives, significantly improving air quality for students. With the announcement of the second round of funding in 2023, the CSBP continues its mission to prioritize high-need districts and low-income areas, ensuring equitable access to cleaner air. By supporting both school districts and third-party applicants, the program will extend its impact and promote collaboration among stakeholders.

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