On Monday, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Clean Energy Education Prize. This competition will help HBCU institutions develop programming to strengthen the participation of K-12 and community college students in science, technology, engineering, and technology (STEM) fields.

The new $7.75 million prize competition seeks to inspire the next generation of students to work in STEM fields related to clean energy. 

By helping to build a diverse STEM pipeline to support America’s clean energy future, this prize supports President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative. This initiative directs 40% of the overall benefits of certain federal investments to flow to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized, underserved, and overburdened by pollution.

The clean energy transition is an opportunity to offer new, inspiring careers to communities that have been historically underrepresented in STEM fields,” said Terrence Mosley, Senior Advisor for Diversity and STEM in DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “Enlisting HBCUs, and the ideas, perspectives, and expertise of their networks, can help the U.S. grow a strong, representative STEM workforce and improve the research quality and innovation needed to accelerate the field of clean energy.” 

According to the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, there are over 100 HBCUs in the United States which account for 3% of all post-secondary institutions, yet HBCUs graduate 17% of all Black students. 40% of the Black students pursuing graduate degrees in STEM fields attended HBCUs for their undergraduate studies.

The DOE hopes this prize will better prepare HBCUs with the resources and infrastructure needed to train a critical portion of the clean energy workforce.

“HBCUs are drivers of innovation and key partners in rural and urban communities, and I am extremely happy to support the Department of Energy HBCU Clean Energy Education Prize,” said Dr. Dietra Y. Trent, Executive Director of the White House Initiative on HBCUs for the Department of Education. “This prize is a continuation of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to increasing the strength and capacity of these renowned institutions that have historically been undervalued, and will help further develop programming that inspires the next generation of critically important STEM professionals at our two- and four-year HBCUs.”  

The HBCU Clean Energy Education Prize’s goal is to expand clean energy learning opportunities for younger generations, build robust programming that provides opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students, and establish partnerships that lead to clean energy career opportunities.

The prize is open to all 100+ HBCU institutions across the United States and schools are eligible to compete in one or both prize tracks:  

  • The Inspire Track supports the development and expansion of HBCU-hosted clean energy summer or academic break programs for K-12 and community college students. Submissions open for this track in May 2023 and close in August 2023.  
  • The Partnership Track supports building partnerships between HBCUs and other universities to provide opportunities that will equip HBCU students with the skills needed to succeed in the clean energy industry. Submissions open for the Partnership Track in September 2023.

Visit Herox.com/HBCU to learn more about how to compete in this prize.