Leveraging and Funding Sources
A viable funding package is considered in the ranking process of Quality Schools Project Grants. Other sources of support may be available for partial funding or for leveraging of a Quality Schools grant. Please see the links below for more information on additional funding sources.
The Department of Environmental Quality offers several programs that may help address energy efficiency in schools. Visit the website to learn more about the Planning, Prevention and Assistance Division as well as Universal Systems Benefit (USB) funds for customers served by the Montana-Dakota Utility Company to see if they are applicable to your project. Also, be sure to read the additional information on tax incentives, loans, and building codes relating to energy efficiency.
The Montana Department of Commerce's research findings, along with comments from local government officials and citizens, indicate that the principal reason why so many local public facilities are deficient is that most options for correcting deficiencies are simply not considered affordable by local residents. The Treasure State Endowment Program (TSEP) is a state-funded program that has been designed to help address that "affordability" problem by providing grants to lower the cost of constructing public facilities projects. School Districts will need to partner with a city, county, tribe or a water or sewer district in order to be eligible to apply for TSEP.
The Montana Coal Board provides funding to local governmental units (including school districts), state agencies, and tribal governments that have been impacted as a direct consequence of coal development or as a result of major decline in coal-related activity. The majority of funding goes to applicants within the Designated Coal Impact Area. School districts should contact Coal Board staff at the Montana Department of Commerce to find out if they are eligible to apply.
This website provides information on the Fuels for Schools and Beyond Program to promote and encourage the use of wood biomass as a renewable, natural resource to provide a clean, readily available energy source suitable for heat and power in public and private buildings. Grant funding may be available for planning, projects and pre-feasibility assessments. Visit the site for information about open and upcoming grant opportunities. Also visit the DNRC Conservation & Resource Development Division site to see if any of their grants apply to your project.
Safe Routes to Schools is a Federally-funded, competitively awarded reimbursement program to make bicycling and walking to school safer and a more appealing transportation option.
This clearinghouse website offers a variety of search categories to assist in finding federal grant opportunities that may be applicable to your project. For example, grants administered by the U.S. Dept of Energy: Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy may be a good place to start.
This Department of Education website lists all open grant competitions. The Department also offers an extensive list of upcoming funding opportunities for every fiscal year. The list is usually updated in November for the current fiscal year.
The USDA Rural Development program provides Community Facility Grants to assist in the development of essential community facilities (such as schools) in rural areas and towns of up to 20,000 in population.
The EPA provides several grant and fellowship opportunities for environmentally conscious development.
FRED is a nonprofit charitable foundation affiliated with the Organization for the Promotion and Advancement of Small Telecommunications Companies (OPASTCO). The Technology Grant aims to bring modern computers into every classroom and connect schools to the Internet. To apply for this grant, schools must be served by a member of OPASTCO and be nominated by that company for a grant. If you are served by a small telecommunications company, contact them to find out if you are eligible to be nominated.
Small grants of up to $2,500 are available for public schools that use volunteers to improve the physical health of their community. Grants are in the form of The Home Depot gift cards for the purchase of tools or materials.
Public schools are eligible to apply for grants ranging from $20,000 to $60,000 to assist with projects that emphasize youth education in the areas of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, the environment, job training and literacy. Grant applications are accepted four times each year and proposals should be submitted online.
Public schools may apply online for grants focusing on safety, community development and education (such as teacher development, service-learning, or systemic improvement). Limited funding is available for grants in other areas. The grant cycle is from January 2 through October 31. Only one proposal per organization per year will be considered.
Small grants between $2,000 and $5,000 are available for public schools for projects that involve facility enhancement (both indoor and outdoor) or for landscaping/clean up projects. Projects that encourage parent involvement and build community spirit are favored. The Spring 2011 grant cycle runs from October 25, 2010 through February 18, 2011.
Grants are available for public schools in the areas of education, literacy, internet safety, and healthcare and accessibility. Grants are accepted online annually from January 1 through October 31.
The mission of the Captain Planet Foundation (CPF) is to support hands-on environmental projects for youth in grades K-12. The Foundation will fund as many projects as its annual resources allow. Grants generally range from $250 to $2,500 and applications are accepted four times a year. Check the website to see if your project is a good fit for the program.
The Bair Family Trust grants funds to nonprofit organizations (including schools) and governmental entities operating in the State of Montana. The three counties of preference include Meagher County, Wheatland County and Yellowstone County. Grants are due on March 1 each year.
LOANS & BONDS
Montana Department of Commerce's Board of Investments INTERCAP Loan Program offers variable rate low-interest loans to School Districts for judgment, new and used vehicles, new and used equipment, real property purchase and improvements, energy retrofit projects, and interim financing and cash-flow. Repayment options include energy cost savings, general fund payments, and a building reserve fund.
The Montana Legislature established the Water Pollution Control State Revolving Fund (WPCSRF) Loan Program for water pollution control projects. Schools can utilize this program for low interest loans for septic system removals or upgrades.
Provides at or below market interest rate loans to Montana municipalities, public or private community water systems and non-profit non-community water systems for projects that facilitate compliance with the national drinking water regulations.
Qualified Zone Academy bonds are a relatively new financing instrument that can be used to carry out much-needed school renovations and repairs as well as other improvements (any use except new construction). The federal government covers, on average, all of the interest on these bonds, thus enabling schools to save up to 50% of the costs of these construction/other projects. The interest payment is actually a tax credit, in lieu of cash, provided to financial institutions that hold the bonds. In effect, when a school district issues a QZAB, it is getting 50% of the funds as a grant. In order to qualify, schools must have 35% or more students who are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals or the school must be located in an enterprise community or empowerment zone.
Performance Contracting is one way to evaluate possibilities for energy improvements in buildings and to finance energy projects that will save money. Performance contracting functions in the following manner: you enter into an agreement with a private energy service company (ESCO). The ESCO will identify and evaluate energy-saving opportunities and then recommend a package of improvements to be paid for through savings. The ESCO will guarantee that savings meet or exceed annual payments to cover all project costs usually over a contract term of seven to 10 years. If savings don't materialize, the ESCO pays the difference, not you. To ensure savings, the ESCO offers staff training and long-term maintenance services.
Northwestern Energy identifies several resources through its Efficiency Plus program that utility customers can utilize to reduce energy costs. These resources include Rebates and Incentives and Tax Credits and Deductions.
Schools planning any building construction, remodeling, or HVAC and lighting system/control improvements with interest in reducing operating costs, discomfort, and/or ventilation problems should visit this informational site and contact the Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Clearinghouse at 1-800-DOE-EREC.