A recent study found that out of approximately one billion dollars in philanthropic funding provided to a dozen national environmental grantees, just over 1% of the funding was awarded to energy justice-focused organizations. The study also revealed that inadequate access to funding, information about proper procedures during the request for applications process were all barriers that prevented the organizations from being considered for funding opportunities.
To help answer this issue, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently launched the new Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize that will award up to $2.5 million in cash prizes to groups and organizations that support entrepreneurship and innovation in communities historically underserved in climate and energy technology funding. The Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize supports the Biden-Harris Administration’s Justice40 initiative to put environmental and economic justice at the center of America’s transition to a net-zero economy by 2050.
“Structural barriers are still stifling the ability for innovators who are Black, Indigenous, and people of color – some of the people most impacted by climate change – to access clean energy funding,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “DOE’s new Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize aims to bridge that gap and build an inclusive community of innovators who have a seat at the table as we map out a comprehensive, equitable clean energy transition.”
DOE’s Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize aims to create an inclusive and just innovation ecosystem in climate and energy technologies. Funds will support underrepresented groups and organizations with ongoing or proposed incubation, acceleration, and other community-based innovation services. The prize will also help lower barriers to entry to DOE funding opportunities and other forms of assistance for first-time applicants, people and organizations from underrepresented communities, underserved and frontline communities, and individuals from other nontraditional backgrounds.
Through the Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize, DOE will deliver resources to ensure applicants from all backgrounds have an equal opportunity to apply for and receive DOE funding. Up to 10 organizations will share a total prize pool of up to $2.5 million.
According to DOE’s website, the prize will aim to fund organizations for activities that support, build trust and strengthen relationships and partnerships with underrepresented, underserved communities; enable and enhance business and technology incubation, acceleration, and other community-based and university-based entrepreneurship and innovation in climate and clean energy technologies; enable clean energy and climate research, commercialization, and entrepreneurship programming and capabilities at colleges and universities that serve large populations of students underrepresented in STEM, Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), community colleges, and undergraduate institutions.