American-Made Challenges

Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize

Pathways to an Inclusive Energy Future

Underserved and underrepresented communities have experienced—and still experience—the negative impacts of climate change, global warming, and pollution at higher rates than the general population. At the same time, structural barriers have historically limited equal opportunities to climate and energy technology funding.


Now, as the nation invests in more clean energy technology, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy has a responsibility to prioritize serving these too-often-overlooked communities. The Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize fits into President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, which aims to deliver 40% of climate investment benefits to disadvantaged communities and inform equitable research, development, and deployment within DOE.


A series of icons, representing different renewable energy technologies and DOE offices: solar, geothermal, wind, water, buildings, advanced manufacturing, transportation, biomass, and hydrogen.

Through the Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize, DOE 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, as well as boost first-time applicants, people, and organizations from underrepresented communities, underserved and frontline communities, and individuals from other nontraditional backgrounds.


The primary goal of this prize is to fund organizations to lead engagement efforts with underserved and underrepresented communities in specific regions and support applicants to apply for DOE and other federal funding opportunities.


Up to 10 organizations will share a total prize pool of up to $2.5 million.


The Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize is designed to:


  • Advance equity, civil rights, racial justice, and equal opportunities, a responsibility of the entire U.S. government, including DOE
  • Identify and incentivize activities that help traditionally underrepresented groups apply for and receive DOE funding.

graphic of a car driving out of a city, with a backdrop of mountains and sunny sky and foreground of people in a grassy field near a stream.  A wind turbine and solar panels in the field and tidal power generator in the stream.  Under the graphic are icons representing various renewable technologies: solar, geothermal, wind, water, buildings, manufacturing, transportation, bioenergy, and hydrogen.

Important Dates


  • Prize Announcement: August 26, 2021
  • Prize Opens: September 2021 (anticipated)
  • Prize Closes: January 2022 (anticipated)
  • Winner Announcement: February 2022 (anticipated)

Dates are forthcoming and subject to change. Final dates will be posted here and on the HeroX site.

Sign up for updates on our HeroX challenge page.



Who Can Participate?


Any underrepresented individuals, groups, and organizations with an idea for incubation, acceleration, and other community-based innovation services in climate and energy technologies can apply!


Solutions that help shape the future

Silhouette of a researcher working with augmented reality software.

Are you a community-centric individual, team, or organization who is interested in being part of a diverse and inclusive clean energy innovation ecosystem? Bring your innovative idea to life with the Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize. Reach out to the organizers to find out how you can get involved.


Learn More and Apply!