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Biden-Harris Administration Announces $45 Million to Improve Energy Efficiency for Nonprofit Buildings

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — As part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced that applications are open for the Renew America’s Nonprofits grant, a funding opportunity that will support projects to reduce energy use in buildings owned and operated by 501(c)(3) nonprofits. This competitive grant — authorized by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law — demonstrates a first-of-its-kind engagement between DOE and the nonprofit sector and recognizes the central role that nonprofits play in American’s lives, as well as their potential significance in the nation’s clean energy transition. By investing in nonprofits, DOE is investing in America’s physical and social infrastructure, reducing emissions and utility costs in vital institutions so that savings can be redirected to mission-critical work serving communities. 

“Nonprofits promote social cohesion, public health, creativity, and innovation — all of which are essential to strong and resilient communities” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “With this funding, DOE is helping nonprofits amplify their impacts. Every dollar saved is a dollar that can be reinvested in crucial community services, all while helping us achieve President Biden’s goal of a net-zero emissions economy by 2050.”   

“Thanks to my legislation included in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we’re helping nonprofits lower emissions and utility costs so they’re able to direct more resources to their core missions. This will support local places of worship to libraries, community centers, and more,” said U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (MN). “The Renew America’s Nonprofits grant program is a win-win —it’s beneficial for the environment and the communities our nonprofits serve. Thank you to all the groups that worked to make this a reality including the National Council of Churches, the YMCA, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, and more.” 

“After years of advocating for the passage of my bipartisan Nonprofit Energy Efficiency Act, I am thrilled that it is now a reality thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law,” said U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright (PA-08).  “These investments will help nonprofits save energy costs in the long run, allowing them to redirect critical funds to their mission-focused work.” 

There are approximately 1.5 million 501(c)(3) nonprofits in the United States, including diverse organizations such as libraries, worship facilities, community centers, animal shelters, hospitals, healthcare clinics, museums, art institutions, youth sports leagues, food banks, and more. Nonprofits historically employ the third-largest workforce in the American economy – more than 12.4 million people. These organizations also operate more than half a million facilities, mostly in commercial spaces where efficiency improvements can reduce energy use by up to 30%. This indicates significant potential for reducing emissions nationally. Given that most nonprofits operate on annual budgets of less than $500,000, energy savings have the potential to build organizational and community resiliency and to increase their service capacities.   

The Renew America’s Nonprofits grant is a pivotal opportunity to create partnerships between nonprofit stakeholders that stimulate widespread energy improvements in the sector. To enhance the technical and administrative capacity of nonprofits seeking access to this funding, DOE is using an aggregation model. Under this model, DOE will award 5-15 larger grants to nonprofits interested in serving as Prime recipients that will recruit and provide technical assistance to eligible projects. These Prime recipients will assemble and support a group of energy-efficiency projects in the facilities of other nonprofit organizations. The Renew America’s Nonprofits grant aligns with the Justice40 Initiative and encourages applicants to show how their projects will benefit historically disadvantaged communities. Ultimately, hundreds of nonprofit facilities should be represented across these project bundles. 

Prospective Prime recipients should be 501(c)(3) nonprofits able to provide technical assistance, maximize savings, ensure effective program implementation, and manage program activities for all projects across the portfolio. This “nonprofits-supporting-nonprofits” model is designed to lay the groundwork for a pipeline of energy and cost-saving projects that will continue beyond the life of the grant. Organizations that wish to collaborate with prospective Prime recipients – for example, 501(c)(3) nonprofits that own and operate buildings in need of retrofits, or entities with the capacity to enhance the services of prospective Prime recipients – are encouraged to engage directly with prospective Prime recipients.  

All entities interested in participating in the Renew America’s Nonprofits grant are encouraged to join the Teaming List, indicate one or more prospective roles, and begin connecting with other organizations. To view the current Teaming List and learn more about the three pathways for participating in the Renew America’s Nonprofits grant, visit the Renew America’s Nonprofits website.    

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