American-Made Challenges

Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize

Pathways to an Inclusive Energy Future

Disadvantaged communities have experienced—and still experience—the negative impacts of climate change, global warming, and pollution at higher rates than the general population. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and the office of Economic Impact and Diversity (ED) recognize that improvements are needed to make the clean energy innovation ecosystem more inclusive and accessible to disadvantaged communities and individuals from groups historically underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).


Now, as the nation invests in more clean energy technology, DOE 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 fund organizations for ongoing and/or proposed activities related to climate and clean energy that support, build trust, and strengthen relationships and partnerships with disadvantaged communities. Specifically, this prize seeks to enable and enhance business and technology incubation, acceleration, and other community-based and university-based entrepreneurship and innovation in climate and clean energy technologies.


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


The goals of the Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize are to:


  • Enable clean energy and climate innovation, 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.
  • Create or increase participation in clean energy and climate-smart job training and job placement/hiring, including programs that target participation from disadvantaged communities, including formerly incarcerated individuals and youth transitioning out of foster care. Workforce training could cover identifying energy efficiencies and greenhouse gas inventories, renewable energy manufacturing, and deployment.
  • Foster grassroots innovation related to just and equitable clean energy deployment through activities focusing on community-centric networks and bottom-up solutions for sustainable development, based on the needs of the communities involved
  • Identify and fund activities that will help disadvantaged communities become aware of, apply into or otherwise secure DOE funding or other federal, state, local government or private (for-profit or nonprofit) funding, in support of the government’s Justice40 goals.
  • Enable the development of replicable clean energy transitions that deliver just and equitable benefits to disadvantaged communities in support of the government’s Justice40 goals.


Important Dates


  • Prize Opens: September 2021
  • Prize Closes: 5 p.m. ET on February 25, 2022
  • Phase One Winner Announcement & Awards: March 2022 (anticipated)
  • Phase Two Begins: March 2023 (anticipated)
Timeline graphic for the Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize.  Please refer to bulleted list for important dates.

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Who Can Participate?


This prize aims to build a community of individuals, groups, and organizations with new ideas for incubation, acceleration, and other community-based innovation services that will help enable a more just and equitable transition to a clean energy economy.


More specific information on eligibility is available in the rules document.

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!