American-Made Challenges


Community Energy Innovation Prize

Provide support, build trust, and strengthen partnerships with underserved communities while advancing the clean energy transition.

This challenge is closed


This challenge is closed

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The $7.49 million Community Energy Innovation Prize is the successor of two U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) prizes related to community-based clean energy innovation: the Community Clean Energy Coalition Prize and the Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize.   


The Community Energy Innovation Prize aims to support local organizations with proven track records of engaging underserved communities and/or promoting environmental, climate, and energy justice as they enact community-led climate and clean energy solutions. This expanded prize also focuses on inspiring the next generation of clean energy leaders with opportunities for college students to work with community partners and has an additional focus on fostering innovation in clean energy manufacturing ecosystems in historically underserved communities. Read the official launch announcement from the U.S. Department of Energy. 


Prize Structure
The Community Energy Innovation Prize is made up of three tracks: the Clean Energy Ecosystem Track, the Manufacturing Ecosystem Track, and the Collegiate Track, each of which has distinct goals and submission requirements over three phases: CONCEPT, PROGRESS, and IMPACT. In addition to prize awards, winning teams in all three tracks will receive in-kind mentorship and other support services. 

Prize Background

The prize is part of the government’s the Biden-Harris Administration’s Justice40 Initiative—a plan to deliver 40% of climate investment benefits to disadvantaged communities and inform equitable research, development, and deployment within federal agencies. Through its three tracks, the prize will serve to inspire and mentor collegiate students; bolster grassroots community organizations; and accelerate innovation in the manufacturing sector, in alignment with a new White House strategy aimed at growing the economy, creating jobs, enhancing sustainability, strengthening supply chains, and ensuring national security.  


Who Can Participate?


Clean Energy Ecosystem and Manufacturing Ecosystem Tracks

The Clean Energy Ecosystem and Manufacturing Ecosystem Tracks are open only to private entities (for-profits and nonprofits); nonfederal government entities such as states, counties, tribes, and municipalities; academic institutions; and individuals. 


Collegiate Track

The Collegiate Track is now closed to new competitors. Read the official announcement from the U.S. Department of Energy and visit the Collegiate Track CONCEPT Phase results page for further details.


Interested in participating in the Clean Energy Ecosystem or Manufacturing Ecosystem Tracks? Please review the official rules.

Collegiate eligibility in the PROGRESS Phase is subject to the requirements detailed in the official prize rules for that track and phase.

The Community Energy Innovation Prize was established by DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Office of Economic Impact and Diversity (ED), and Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Technologies Office (AMMTO). The prize is part of the American-Made family of prizes and is administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

If you want to receive updates on the prize or have any questions, please subscribe by using the contact feature on the HeroX platform or .


Challenge Updates

Congratulations, Clean Energy Ecosystem Track and Manufacturing Ecosystem Track CONCEPT Phase Winners!

March 26, 2024, 7:09 a.m. PDT by NREL Prize Administrator

The first phase of the Community Energy Innovation Prize for the Ecosystem Tracks has drawn to a close. In the CONCEPT Phase, 23 teams were awarded $100,000 each and will also receive in-kind mentorship as they move on to the PROGRESS Phase. Teams were selected based on the strength of their team, their connection to the target community, the needs of the target community, and the projected impact of their clean energy initiatives. 

These teams will now use their cash prizes in the next phase to progress their planned community activities. Teams will report on their progress in July 2024, where they will compete to receive additional cash awards and mentorship services as a part of the PROGRESS Phase. Read the official announcement from the U.S. Department of Energy. 


The Clean Energy Ecosystem Track CONCEPT Phase winners are: 


Community Through Colors, Isabel Segunda, Vieques, PR 

  • Accelerating the development of microgrids to rural and disadvantaged communities, community service centers, and local businesses to increase distribution capacity for essential services. 

Convivencia Hispana Energy Navigators, St. James, MN 

  • Developing a community energy navigator program to provide free energy audits to residents and increase clean energy capacity. 

East Phillips Neighborhood Institute (EPNI) and Cooperative Energy Futures (CEF), Minneapolis, MN 

  • Building a solar array on a former superfund site that is member-owned by neighbor residents. 

First State Community Green Energy Coalition, Wilmington, DE 

  • Building a Community Clean Energy Hub powered by solar, that provides workforce training and clean energy jobs for a Justice40 community. 

Innovate Gloucester, Gloucester, MA 

  • Deploying advanced clean energy technology at the local high school to benefit Justice40 communities. 

LEI Foundation Energize Wai’anae Moku, Wai’anae, HI 

  • Growing the Energy Warriors program through a series of workshops and events and identifying priorities to co-design an energy project. 

People Power: Energy Security | Ownership, Fort Smith, AR 

  • Bringing the r benefits of clean energy to Fort Smith’s disadvantaged neighborhoods via solar installations on community centers. 

Pomona, CA – Direct-to-Renter Clean Energy Program, Pomona, CA 

  • Engaging low-income renters to co-create a direct-to-renter clean energy program that is scalable and transferrable nationwide. 

Project:HOMES, Tangier, VA 

  • Serving the remote, climate-vulnerable community of Tangier Island with weatherization services and building a network of trained contractors. 

RESCo Innovation Team, Rosebud Sioux Reservation, SD 

  • Coordinating clean energy efforts in transportation, finance, efficiency, and renewable and workforce development for the local community. 

Requity Foundation, Baltimore, MD 

  • Breaking down barriers between vocational education and the clean energy workforce through a variety of projects engaging the local community. 

Shake Energy Collaborative, Honolulu, HI 

  • Supporting historically disinvested communities in Hawai’i to co-design renewable energy projects and bid for upcoming utility procurements. 

Team Bean, New Orleans, LA 

  • Engaging youth in the decision-making process, planning, and funding of energy resilience projects and programming. 


The Manufacturing Ecosystem Track CONCEPT Phase winners are: 


APLUS, Arlington, TX 

  • Providing hands-on power electronic training to underserved students, while bridging the gap between lab learning and job searching. 

CEIP Warren, Warren, OH 

  • Combining manufacturing skills education with energy entrepreneurship, while fostering a vibrant hub of inclusivity and innovation. 

Clean Tech Innovation Network, Chicago, IL 

  • Supporting manufacturing-based innovation, entrepreneurship, and job creation for women and BIPOC to support grid modernization. 

Eighth Generation Consulting, Pawhuska, OK 

  • Supporting a solar recycling startup and empowering Indigenous communities through training, while blending traditional wisdom with economic growth objectives. 

Green Leap Riverside, Riverside County, CA 

  • Empowering manufacturers to reduce energy use and foster collaboration for a clean and sustainable future in Riverside County. 

IMPACTT, Evansville, IN 

  • Supporting economic development through entrepreneurial education, fostering manufacturing talent pipelines, and community engagement. 

Metals Innovation Initiative (MI2), Four Counties in KY 

  • Revitalizing Kentucky metals manufacturing by implementing clean energy conversion, statewide recycling, and innovative workforce solutions in former coal communities. 

PDX Clean Industry Network, Portland, OR 

  • Supporting sustainable solutions to jumpstart an industrial symbiosis ecosystem in Portland’s Columbia Corridor. 

Scale for ClimateTech, New York State 

  • Bringing the Climate Equity Module to centers in NY state and fostering a shared vision of equitable innovation. 

Southland Development Authority Team, Tinley Park, IL 

  • Creating  an engineering internship program, a cutting-edge manufacturing facility, and clean energy industry partnerships 

Congratulations, Collegiate Track PROGRESS Phase Winners! 


The second phase of the Community Energy Innovation Prize Collegiate Track has drawn to a close. In the PROGRESS Phase, three winners were awarded an additional $20,000 each, via their Community Partner, and in-kind mentorships as they move on to the final IMPACT Phase.  


The Collegiate Track PROGRESS Phase winners are: 


Greener CASA, Tyler, TX 

  • Creating an academia-community partnership to bring free energy audits to underserved communities and promote energy efficiency. 

GreenSynergy, Houston, TX 

  • Integrating clean energy into education — utilizing solar panels, fuel cells, and other technologies to foster learning and inspire the future clean energy workforce. 

Solar Decathlon at Georgia Tech, Atlanta, GA 

  • Designing and building a net-zero home to address energy challenges, develop a green workforce, and train the next generation of sustainable professionals in Westside Atlanta.


Thank you to all competitors for your participation in the Community Energy Innovation Prize! 

Upcoming Winners Announcement

March 22, 2024, 7:56 a.m. PDT by NREL Prize Administrator

Thank you for your continuing patience as the winners announcement for the Community Energy Innovation Prize is finalized. We plan to post the announcement as soon as it is ready. Your understanding is greatly appreciated!

CEI Prize Administration Team

Winners Announcement Coming This Week

March 19, 2024, 9:03 a.m. PDT by NREL Prize Administrator

Hello Community Energy Innovation Prize Teams,

The winners announcement for all three tracks - Clean Energy Ecosystem, Manufacturing Ecosystem, and Collegiate - will be coming this week. Thank you again for your patience during this review process! The prize received a large number of submissions, and the review process is in the final stages.

Thank you,

CEI Prize Administration Team

Prize Timeline: Anticipated Winner Announcements

March 5, 2024, 6:45 a.m. PST by NREL Prize Administrator

Hello CEI Prize Competitors,

Thank you for your patience as the review process continues for all tracks of this prize. Here is a reminder of the upcoming anticipated winner announcement dates (subject to change based on the review process):

  • Clean Energy Ecosystem Track CONCEPT Phase winner announcement: Tuesday, March 19th
  • Manufacturing Ecosystem Track CONCEPT Phase winner announcement: Tuesday, March 19th
  • Collegiate Track PROGRESS Phase winner announcement: Thursday, March 14th

For all of the above, the next phases of the prize will begin the same day as the winner announcements. Please see the Timeline tab for full details.

Thank you to everyone for participating in this prize and planning exciting clean energy initiatives around the country!

- CEI Prize Administration Team

Deadline Today! 5pm Eastern Time for Both Ecosystem Tracks

Feb. 2, 2024, 8:04 a.m. PST by NREL Prize Administrator

Hello Participants,

The submission deadline for the Community Energy Innovation Prize’s Clean Energy and Manufacturing Ecosystem tracks is TODAY - Friday, February 2, at 5 PM ET. We highly recommend getting all materials submitted before then—don’t get bogged down by a network failure or long upload time and miss the deadline!

We apologize for any platform issues experienced by users in the past 12 hours. These issues have been resolved. Please let us know directly if you encounter any problems completing your submission. You can email us at

Don't forget to take advantage of the prize resources, which include: 

We look forward to your submissions!

The Community Energy Innovation Prize Administration Team

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