Get answers to frequently asked questions.
The Clean Neighborhoods Challenge, a statewide competition administered by NYSERDA, in partnership with the NYS Department of Public Service and NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, will award up to three $10 million grand prize awards to inclusive and forward-thinking proposals that meaningfully collaborate with and transform disadvantaged communities through clean transportation solutions.
All proposals must be led by an eligible principal organization, and the formation of teams (partnership between one or more organizations) is strongly encouraged.
All teams must identify the principal organization that would receive the Award. The principal organization will have the legal responsibility to manage the award funds and must have the appropriate controls and processes to manage a project of this size. The principal organization will also be legally responsible for financial reporting and must be able to exercise, in fact and law, direction, control, and supervision of the proposed project and the grant funds.
Each Proposal to the Clean Neighborhoods Challenge must be led by a Principal Organization, which is an entity responsible for entering into an agreement with NYSERDA for the purposes of receiving a planning grant or grand prize Award. Any nonprofit, business or company, or other type of incorporated entity that is in good standing in the relevant jurisdiction(s) where they are incorporated and maintained may apply as a Principal Organization or be a member on a proposing team, with the exceptions provided below.
The following entities are not eligible to apply as the Principal Organization, but may be part of a proposing team:
- Government agencies, including United Nations agencies, inter-governmental bodies, and regional cooperation agencies. Please note: Indian Nations are eligible to apply as a Principal Organization and serve as part of a proposing team.
- Departments, authorities, or other entities that are part of local, state, or federal government.
- Universities and colleges.
The following entities are not eligible to be a Principal Organization nor members of any proposing team:
- Registered lobbying organizations whose primary business is lobbying.
- Utilities and associated enterprises, within their respective service territories.
Please refer to the Rules for a complete set of eligibility requirements, and complete the Organizational Readiness Tool to help determine if you are a strong fit for the challenge.
You must first assess your fit and eligibility for the Clean Neighborhoods Challenge then register no later than Thursday, July 22, 2021 at 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Registration is required and is a simple two-step process. First, create a username and password and then check your inbox to confirm your registration. Next, complete the short online registration form. Your registration is subject to the Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policies & Disclaimer, and Rules.
Once you are registered, submit your proposal online no later than Tuesday, August 24, 2021 at 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Proposals are automatically saved as they are completed on the online platform and changes can be made up until the submission deadline. Once you submit, you will not be able to make any further changes and proposal status can be viewed on the Dashboard. Please note: You will not receive an automated email.
We are seeking long-term, scale-ready, and game-changing solutions that advance clean transportation in New York State’s disadvantaged communities. At a minimum, all proposals should:
- Reduce emissions from transportation sources in and around one or more disadvantaged communities.
- Expand access to electric and active transportation options for community residents.
- Take an integrated approach so as to establish the broader conditions for continued emissions reductions.
- Improve the quality of life for residents of the community or communities in which it proposes to operate, and make the chosen community or communities more attractive for further investment both as relates to active and electric transportation and otherwise.
- Demonstrate a clear potential to be repeated in other communities and have the potential to scale in chosen or additional communities.
Proposals are encouraged to encompass a wide range of activities that are necessary to advance transportation electrification in a community. The proposal may choose to achieve the above goals by harnessing local planning capacity and ability to change local rules, regulations, and rights-of-way usage, and infrastructure supportive of electric transportation options to encourage or require more future transportation electrification. Proposals may also encompass solutions that advance active transportation options alongside electric options.
A strong solution will meet the following criteria:
- Impactful: Bold, game-changing vision and proven, comprehensive approach to transform clean transportation, reduce emissions, and deliver lasting impact on disadvantaged communities.
- Community-aligned: Exceptional track record of authentically engaging the community, partners, and stakeholders. Strategic approach will successfully meet diverse and changing community needs over time.
- Feasible: Rigorous plans designed to secure resources and buy-in, exceed expectations, and break down barriers. Activates a team of seasoned experts and leaders with remarkable records of success.
- Repeatable: Robust, evidence-based approach to effectively repeat and scale. Well-positioned to establish best practices and a valuable model that bolsters other efforts throughout New York State and beyond.
Funds from Phase Two awards must be used for the solution described in the proposal and go toward achieving transportation-related outcomes. The solution must be implemented over a period of up to three years. Proposers may include overhead costs that are necessary to implement the proposed project.
The following activities are not an eligible use of funds:
- A sole focus on vehicle or fleet replacement
- A sole focus on active transportation without support of electric transportation solutions
- Projects that do not ensure long-term reductions in GHG emissions and air pollution
- Projects that would not have a demonstrable impact on quality of life of community residents
- The purchase of energy, development of power generation, or renewable energy credits (RECs)
- Activities that do not promote reductions in transportation-related emissions or related improvements to transportation infrastructure
- Activities that promote community development, other than through electric and active transportation solutions and related improvements to transportation infrastructure
- Activities that promote environmental goals other than electric and active transportation, such as brownfield remediation
- Projects that have significant technology risk
Please note: While hydrogen fuel cell vehicles on their own are out of scope, eligible proposed solutions using distributed generation or grid-supplied electricity to create hydrogen for fueling could be coupled with displacing polluting vehicles that impact the disadvantaged communities.
All Proposals must increase access to electric transportation and improve quality of life for at least one disadvantaged community per the interim definition below.
Disadvantaged Communities include either:
1. Communities that meet both of the following criteria:
- Census block groups that are in the top quartile of HUD census tracks meeting the annual income threshold of 50% Area Median Income (see below*), and
- Location identified as a Potential Environmental Justice Areas, as defined by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, or
2. Communities in New York State Opportunity Zones.
*HUD 50% Threshold: Top quartile of census block groups in New York, ranked by the percentage of LMI Households in each census block. LMI Households are defined as households with annual incomes at or below 50% of the AMI of the County or Metro area where the Census Block Group resides.
NYSERDA has provided an interactive map that identifies areas throughout the State that meet the interim criteria specified above.
There are up to five Phase One awards of $100,000 and up to three Phase Two awards of $10 million available through the Clean Neighborhoods Challenge for projects located within communities served by electric utilities regulated by the New York State Public Service Commission. These utilities are: Central Hudson Gas & Electric, Con Edison, National Grid, New York State Electric & Gas, Orange and Rockland, and Rochester Gas and Electric.
Subject to the availability of funds, up to one project located within a community (or communities) served by the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) may be selected for an additional Phase One award through the Clean Neighborhoods Challenge. Up to one additional project located within a community (or communities) served by LIPA may be selected for a Phase Two award out of the Phase One awardees from all three challenges in the New York Clean Transportation Prizes program.
Projects located in other electric utility service territories are eligible to participate in the submission and evaluation process, but are not eligible for Clean Neighborhoods Challenge awards and must secure alternative funding. Up to one additional Phase One project may be selected from the other electric utility service territories for access to expert consultants and other support services to prepare a Phase Two proposal. This additional project is not eligible to receive the planning grant, grand prize, nor funding for community partners from NYSERDA.
Once the submission deadline passes, the Clean Neighborhoods Challenge team will perform an administrative review to confirm each submission meets the rules and proposal requirements before advancing to Scoring Committee Review.
Each eligible submission will move on to the Scoring Committee and receive scores and feedback from five judges who are experts in the field. All judges will use the scoring rubric and all scores will be statistically normalized to ensure fairness.
The Selection Panel will then review top-scoring submissions and request additional information as needed to select up to five Phase One Awardees. Phase One Awardees will each receive a planning grant of $100,000 and technical assistance to refine their proposals and share more detailed plans over a four-month period. The Selection Panel and NYSERDA will make the final determination of the Phase One Awardees and up to three recipients of the $10 million awards.
New York State is searching for the best global solutions to the identified problems these transportation challenges seek to address. To inform interdisciplinary teams and to support global experts in putting together proposals with a clear path to execution and specific to New York State, we have provided resources with more information on a range of topics relevant to the Clean Neighborhoods Challenge.
These resources aim to support an understanding of a broad array of issues and solutions related to mobility and disadvantaged communities. Please note these resources were not selected to influence proposals to this prize, but rather to provide a broad baseline for interested parties. The conclusions of these resources do not necessarily reflect the beliefs or perspectives of the independent Scoring Committee members that will score applications to this program or the Prize Team.
Once you register for the competition and complete the online registration form, you will have access to the platform, including the online proposal and forums. Here, you can interact with other registrants on the forums, ask questions, and seek partners you may need to complete your team.
Informational webinars are also available and offer access to experts’ perspectives on best-in-class solutions in clean transportation and community engagement. These webinars will be recorded and made available under Resources.
Finally, the Clean Neighborhoods Challenge team is offering a Q&A webinar prior to the registration deadline for potential proposers to learn more about the prize and ask questions. More information will be emailed to those who register for the prize, including sign-up information. This webinar will also be recorded and then made available in News & Updates shortly after.
Contact NYSERDA to request technical support and more information about the Clean Neighborhoods Challenge.
Up to five eligible solutions will be selected as Phase One Awardees to move on to the next phase of the prize and will receive a $100,000 grant. Phase One Awardees will also be provided with up to $50,000 of in-kind support from experts, and up to $50,000 in funding for their community partners to support their active participation in final proposal development.
The Clean Neighborhoods Challenge will then award up to three Phase One Awardees a grand prize of $10 million each to implement the proposed solutions and support the transition to clean, safe, and more convenient transportation.
Once contracts for Phase One awards have been fully executed, awardees may be given the opportunity to showcase proposed solutions through a searchable database, offering participants greater visibility and exposure to other funders beyond the competition itself. This online search engine will be available in Spring 2022. NYSERDA is committed to sharing promising solutions with other potential funding sources.
Yes, nonprofit and community-based organizations are eligible to apply (please see our rules for more information). An entity can submit only one Phase One Proposal per Challenge as the Principal Organization. An organization can also serve as a partner on a team for multiple proposals provided that each proposes a separate, distinct solution.
CBOs are also invited to join the New York Clean Transportation Prizes Community Partner Directory provided to interested teams from our Resources page. Please complete this interest form if you are available to partner on a proposed solution.
If a CBO is acting as a Principal Organization and is selected as a Phase One awardee, they would not also be eligible to receive the $50,000 community partner funding for that proposed solution. Community partner funding is for engaging with community partners and cannot be used directly by the Principal Organization.
If a CBO is also selected as part of one or more teams for a Phase One awardee (where they are not the Principal Organization), they are eligible to receive the $50,000 community partner funding for each proposed solution. Please note that community partner funding is up to $50,000 in total to be used across all partners, and will only be approved for authorized activities. Additional guidance on this will be made available when the Phase Two requirements are published.
Letters of support are not required at this time and should not be submitted in this phase of the proposal process. Teams who move on to later stages of the competition will have opportunity to provide more information and refine their proposals – this may include securing and providing letters of support.