The second round of Clean School Bus funding provided by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is now upon us, with priority on:
- High-need local educational agencies.
- Rural school districts.
- Bureau of Indian Affairs-funded school districts.
- School districts that receive basic support payments for children who reside on Indian land.
But how does the application process work if you qualify and match the prioritization criteria?
The EPA Application Package: What’s Inside?
The funding opportunity PDF includes an appendix with a checklist that can help applicants ensure that they supply all the necessary paperwork. Mandatory materials for the submission package include:
- Application for Federal Assistance.
- Budget Information.
- Pre-Award Compliance Review.
- Key Contacts Form.
- Project Narrative (no longer than 15 pages).
- Applicant Fleet Sheet (using “Other Attachments Form”).
- Third-Party Approval Certification (using “Other Attachments Form”).
A grant submission might also include the following information, using the “Other Attachments Form”:
- Utility Partnership Template.
- Self-Certification of Prioritization (if applicable).
- Additional External Funds Commitment Letters (if applicable).
- Project Team Biographies.
- Negotiated Indirect Cost Rate Agreement (if applicable).
- Partnership Letters (if applicable).
Get Familiar with Grants.gov
By Aug. 23, applicants must submit their packages electronically to the EPA through Grants.gov. To do that, applicants need a Unique Entity Identifier (UEI, formerly known as the DUNS number) and a current registration with the System for Award Management (SAM.gov). Don’t have those yet? New registrants can expect to spend at least a month setting them up.
Getting a SAM account requires creating a free account using the federal government’s sign-in service, Login.gov.
What entity registration requires:
- Obtaining a UEI, which is a 12-character alphanumeric ID assigned by SAM.
- Making assertions, representations, and certifications.
- Providing additional information about the organization.
For applicants who already have Grants.gov accounts, take the time to check the status of those SAM accounts and address issues before submitting the application package. SAM account registrations can expire if not renewed every 365 days, and require re-registration if they lapse.
Applications for this second round, which provides at least $400 million for zero- and low-emission school buses and charging equipment made available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, use the Workspace feature on Grants.gov.
Workspace provides three tiers – Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced – for organizations and applicants with varying levels of expertise to manage different forms within an application.
VIDEO: Creating a Workspace for EV School Bus Grant Applications
Looking for Assistance?
Need help with the SAM account? Get in touch with the Federal Service Desk. Running into technical issues or want to chat with a help-desk agent? Call (866) 606-8220. Service desk hours are between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. Eastern, Monday-Friday.
Extra Resources for EPA Grant Applicants
The EPA offers an online training course that provides an overview of the grant process and the funding life cycle, from starting the application to closing out the project. The course includes six modules available in video and text formats.
But the application is just one facet of the complicated process of making the shift to a low- or zero-emission school bus fleet.
The EPA also recommends:
- Coordinating with the local utility throughout the project. The EPA offers a sample template to guide those discussions.
- Learning more about charging and fueling infrastructure, whether it’s the types of buses available or the best practices for their use.
- Reaching out for technical assistance from the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation to gain understanding about what’s involved in planning and deployment of clean school buses.
VIDEO: Electric School Bus Introduction