Five-star reviews, one-star profits: The devaluation of businesses in Black communities

Author:  Andre M. Perry and David Harshbarg       Published:  2/18/2020        Brookings

Howard University Mourns the Passing of Gary L. Harris

Author: Howard University News Room Staff         Published: 10/27/2020               HU


Photo of the Late Dr. Gary L Harris

It is with deep sadness that I report on the recent passing of Professor Gary Lynn Harris earlier this week. Dr. Harris served with distinction in various capacities at the University, including most recently as the dean of the Graduate School and associate provost for research. He was often celebrated for his listening ear, willingness to provide great advice and deep love for graduate students. Dr. Harris’ generosity of time, intellect and caring will be remembered fondly.

A native of Colorado, Dr. Harris received his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in electrical engineering from Cornell University. He was then one of the first two African-Americans to receive a Ph.D. in electrical engineering-electro-physics from Cornell University, along with Michael Spencer. He served as an associate with the National Research and Resource Facility for Sumicron Structures (NRRFSS) and was a visiting scientist at the Naval Research Laboratory. In 1980 he became an associate professor at Howard University in the Department of Electrical Engineering, College of Engineering. Rising to the rank of full professor, Dr. Harris was a distinguished scholar and researcher focusing on semiconductor fabrication of electronic and optical materials. A prolific author, Dr. Harris published more than 100 peer-reviewed scientific articles, edited five books and presented more than 200 papers at scientific conferences. He also mentored and advised the research theses and dissertations of more than 150 master’s and Ph.D. graduates.

As key scientist of the Howard Nanoscale Science and Engineering Facility (HNF), Dr. Harris led his colleagues in creating the NanoExpress. The NanoExpress is a mobile, state-of-the-art laboratory exhibiting some of the latest science and technology at the nano dimension in a variety of disciplines. With his signature mantra, “People can’t do what they can’t imagine,” the mobile center is about expanding the scientific imagination of people from “K [kindergarten] to gray.” The NanoExpress has visited schools in the capital area, participated in the USA Science & Engineering Festival and occasionally taken a tour up and down the East Coast. Dr. Harris would note with pride that, each year, the NanoExpress served more than 10,000 visitors.

Dr. Harris served as dean of the Graduate School from 2012-2019 and concurrently as the associate provost for research and graduate studies. He was the first dean I appointed as provost. He also oversaw the expansion of the Edward Bouchet Graduate Honor Society and the implementation of programs supporting graduate student funding, including the Just-Julian Research Fellowship. Under his leadership, the University dedicated the Interdisciplinary Research Building (IRB), home to researchers from departments throughout the University. Dr. Harris also served for many years with distinction as a University marshall during commencements, convocations and other key events.

An ardent advocate for science education, Dr. Harris was also active in various media outlets. He was heard weekly on “Homepage,” the one-hour technical news-talk show on 1450-AM (Washington, D.C.), 1010-AM in Baltimore and nationally on 169, the XM satellite radio band. Seeking to promote science, engineering and technology to a wider audience, in December 2011, Harris launched a technical news-talk show, “Nano Talk,” on HUR Voices on Channel 141 through Sirius XM. He also worked on television productions. “Chips are for Kids” and “Safety First” was featured on the PBS special “Stuff of Dreams.”

Dana A. Williams, Ph.D., interim dean of the Graduate School, noted, “Dr. Harris is the epitome of the University motto – ‘Veritas et Utilitas,’ ‘Truth and Service.’ The contributions he made during his tenure as the dean of the Graduate School have had an unparalleled positive impact on the Howard University community. We are grateful for Dr. Harris’ leadership.”

We are grateful for Dr. Harris’ many contributions to the University and indebted to his commitment to science education. The Howard University community will continue to keep the Harris Family, including his wife, Dr. Jennifer Harris, my medical school classmate, and their children, in our thoughts and prayers. The University will conduct a ceremony in honor of Dr. Harris’ life at an appropriate time to be scheduled in the future.

Excellence in Truth and Service,

Wayne A. I. Frederick, MD, MBA

Charles R. Drew Professor of Surgery


Clyburn, Booker Announce Major Legislation to Fight Poverty in America; New Report Details Success of 10-20-30 Formula

Author:  Staffer for James E. Clyburn       Published: 10/3/2020     US Congress Media Center

Capitol View

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. House Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn (SC) today announced introduction of a major new bill that will expand the successful 10-20-30 anti-poverty formula to a significantly larger group of federal accounts to ensure more funds are targeted to persistent poverty communities without raising taxes or adding to the deficit.  The bill, titled An Act Targeting Resources into Communities in Need, also ensures federal investment in all high-need communities by targeting funding into high-poverty census tracts.  Companion legislation to the new Clyburn bill is being introduced in the Senate by Senator Cory Booker (NJ).

Clyburn also released a new report documenting the widespread success of the 10-20-30 formula in targeting federal resources into persistent poverty communities across the United States.  The report, Combatting Persistent Poverty, 10-20-30 Works, highlights the more than 2,800 projects funded with the help of 10-20-30 for a total investment of more than $1.6 billion last year.  Click here to read the report.

“For far too long, families in communities in need have suffered from neglect and indifference,” Clyburn said.  “This exciting new legislation employs proven anti-poverty tools to target federal funds where they are needed most and where they will do the most good.  Congress must act on this urgent priority.”

Senator Booker said, “While genius is spread equally across the country, opportunity is not. By more strategically targeting limited federal resources to the places that need them the most, we can bring investment to communities that for too long have been left behind.”

An Act Targeting Resources into Communities in Need expands the 10-20-30 formula which requires a minimum of ten percent of federal funds of a particular federal spending account go to communities in which the poverty level has been twenty percent or higher over the past thirty years.  The formula was successfully applied to three accounts in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, fifteen accounts in the omnibus appropriations law for 2017 and fourteen for 2018.  This new bill expands the number of federal accounts using the formula to distribute more funds to targeted persistent poverty communities.

To ensure federal investment reaches all high-need communities, including smaller pockets of deep poverty and those communities experiencing more recent economic downturns, the bill would also require certain federal agencies to target resources to census tracts (a geographic designation significantly smaller than counties) with poverty rates currently exceeding twenty percent.  Agencies would be instructed to direct five percent more of their funding into high-poverty census tracts, relative to the preceding three years’ share.

For more information, click here:



Joe Biden knows that African Americans can never have a fair shot at the American Dream so long as entrenched disparities are allowed to quietly chip away at opportunity. He is running for President to rebuild our economy in a way that finally brings everyone along—and that starts by rooting out systemic racism from our laws, our policies, our institutions, and our hearts.

This mission is more important now than ever before, as the health and economic impacts of COVID-19 have shined a light on—and cruelly exacerbated—the disparities long faced by African Americans. In April 2020, Biden called on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to collect more data regarding how COVID-19 is affecting communities, including breaking down its impacts by race. The data we’ve seen so far suggests that African Americans are dying from COVID-19 at a higher rate than whites. Long-standing systemic inequalities are  contributing to this disparity—including the fact that African Americans are more likely to be uninsured and to live in communities where they are exposed to high levels of air pollution. African Americans also represent an especially high percentage of the front-line workers putting themselves at greater risk to sustain the economy and keep the rest of the country safe and fed—and are less likely to have a job they can do from home, forcing them to make the difficult choice between their health and a paycheck. While there’s a lot we don’t yet know about COVID-19, we do know that equitable distribution of resources, like testing and medical equipment, can make a difference in fighting the virus. Biden believes this should be a priority and action must be taken now.

COVID-19 is also having a disproportionate economic impact on African American families. African American small businesses have been hit hard, and over 90% of African American-owned businesses are estimated to be shut out of the initial relief program due to preexisting, systemic disparities in lending. This is especially dire given that African American families have less of a financial cushion to fall back on in hard times. Biden has been calling for the nation’s relief and recovery efforts to be equitable and just, including by designing relief programs in ways that avoid methods we know lead to disparate outcomes—so that funds can actually reach African American families, communities, and small businesses. President Trump has not heeded his warnings. If Biden were President today, he would make it a top priority to ensure that African American workers, families, and small businesses got the relief they need and deserve.

Tackling systemic racism and fighting for civil rights has been a driving force throughout Biden’s career in public service. He has a record of fighting for and delivering for the African American community. As a U.S. Senator he co-sponsored the Civil Rights Act of 1990 to protect against employment discrimination and led multiple reauthorizations of the Voting Rights Act, protecting African Americans’ right to vote. Biden also led efforts to reauthorize and extend the Fair Housing Act, and as Delaware’s Senator, was a vocal advocate and supporter of Delaware State University, the state’s Historically Black University.

Today, we need a comprehensive agenda for African Americans with ambition that matches the scale of the challenge and with recognition that race-neutral policies are not a sufficient response to race-based disparities.

The Biden Plan for Black America will:

  • Advance the economic mobility of African Americans and close the racial wealth and income gaps.
  • Expand access to high-quality education and tackle racial inequity in our education system.
  • Make far-reaching investments in ending health disparities by race.
  • Strengthen America’s commitment to justice.
  • Make the right to vote and the right to equal protection real for African Americans.
  • Address environmental justice.


Invest in African American Businesses and Entrepreneurs

Approximately 4% of small business owners are African American, even though African Americans make up approximately 13% of the population. To build wealth in African American communities, we must invest in the success of African American businesses and entrepreneurs.  

Ensuring equal access to credit and capital. African American businesses often lack the capital they need to succeed. African American businesses are rejected at a rate nearly 20% higher than the white-owned firms. Even worse, African American businesses that do get funding receive only 40% of the funds requested as compared to 70% for white businesses. To increase investment and access to capital, Biden will:

  • Double funding for the State Small Business Credit Initiative. The Obama-Biden Administration created the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) to support small businesses, driving $10 billion in new lending for each $1 billion in SSBCI funds. Biden will extend the program through 2025 and double its federal funding to $3 billion, driving close to $30 billion of private sector investments to small businesses all told, especially those owned by women and people of color.
  • Expand the New Markets Tax Credit, make the program permanent, and double Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) funding. The New Markets Tax Credit has helped draw tens of billions of dollars in new capital to low-income communities, providing tax credits to investors in community development organizations that support everything from supermarkets to real estate projects to manufacturing plants.  As part of his plan to reinvest in communities across the country, including in rural areas, Biden will also double funding for the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund, which supports local, mission-driven financial institutions in low-income areas around the U.S. This builds on Biden’s proposal to support entrepreneurs in small towns and rural areas by expanding both the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program and the number of Rural Business Investment Companies, to help rural businesses attract capital.
  • Improve and expand the Small Business Administration programs that most effectively support African American-owned businesses. The Small Business Administration’s (SBA) programs have been and remain one of the most effective ways of accessing capital for African American-owned businesses. Biden will strengthen these existing programs by:
    • Ensuring the SBA has the funding it needs to support African American-owned business and others in the current crisis and beyond. Trump has once again proposed a massive cut of 25% in the SBA budget for FY2021, including a 35% cut in funding to Small Business Development Centers, a 20% cut to the SBA Microloan Program, and significantly increased fees for the 7(a) loan program, which is SBA’s main loan program for small businesses.
    • Making permanent the successful Community Advantage loan program, originally created during the Obama-Biden Administration. The program, which provides capital for startups and growing small businesses located in particularly underserved communities through CDFIs and other mission-driven lenders, has been run as a pilot program since 2011. Biden will make this program permanent and reverse rules enacted by the Trump Administration that are making it more difficult for lenders to participate in the program and lend to African American-owned businesses and other businesses located in underserved communities.

Increase opportunities for African American-owned businesses to obtain or participate in federal contracts. In the aftermath of the 2008-2009 financial crisis, well over $100 billion of federal prime contracting dollars were awarded to minority-owned small businesses. And, between 2013 and 2016, the Obama-Biden Administration increased federal prime contract dollars going to Small Disadvantaged Businesses by nearly 30%, from $30.6 billion to $39.1 billion. The Obama-Biden Administration also created an Interagency Task Force on Federal Contracting Opportunities for Small Businesses, which included a focus on contracting opportunities for minority-owned businesses. The Obama-Biden Administration implemented its vision of more equitable access to federal contracts through a variety of channels, including by launching the Federal Procurement Center (FPC) as part of the Commerce Department’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA). The FPC, a first-of-its-kind program, helps minority-owned firms apply for and win federal government contracts. As President, Biden will build on these efforts to support the expansion of opportunities for minority-owned small businesses.

Increase funding for the Minority Business Development Agency budget. MBDA plays a critical role in supporting the development and growth of minority-owned businesses around the country, as well as providing needed assistance to federal and state agencies so that they award minority-owned businesses procurement contracts. The Trump Administration has pushed for a 75% cut in MBDA’s budget. Biden would protect and call for increased funding for it.

Protect small and disadvantaged businesses from federal and state contract bundling which often locks out African American-owned smaller firms from effectively bidding on procurement contracts. Biden will build on the anti-bundling provisions of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, by having the Office of Management and Budget, SBA, and MBDA conduct a government-wide review of existing contract bundling to determine whether agencies are following existing rules and whether agencies have the ability to further ensure small business participation in federal and state procurement opportunities.

Make sure economic relief because of COVID-19 reaches the African American businesses that need it most. The first installment of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) largely left out minority-owned businesses. The Center for Responsible Lending estimates that more than 90% of small businesses owned by people of color will not receive loans. The program is not taking into account the specific challenges that African American businesses face in accessing funding and complying with the program’s requirements. The financial institutions best positioned to help African American small businesses don’t have the systems to quickly deploy the funding in a first-come first-served approach. The second phase set aside $60 billion for community banks and CDFIs, as well as mid-sized banks, which can better serve smaller businesses and minority-owned firms. This is a good start, but more needs to be done:

  • Provide AfricanAmerican entrepreneurs and other small business owners technical assistance to help them apply for funding, as well as legal and accounting support to ensure their documentation (such as their financial records, tax filings, and other legal documents) is all in correct order. The Trump Administration and Congress should provide an additional infusion of operating capital to these CDFIs and community-focused lenders to ensure all African American entrepreneurs have access to the technical assistance and support they need.
  • Reserve half of all the new PPP funds for small businesses with 50 employees or less, so the bigger and more well-connected aren’t able to win in a first-come, first-served race. While this will help the vast majority of small businesses, it should also help target more funding to minority-owned businesses, given 98% of all minority-and women-owned businesses have fewer than 50 employees.
  • Produce a weekly dashboard to show which small businesses are accessing loans. Such a dashboard would help drive better data collection on the beneficiaries of small business support related to the COVID-19 epidemic, including in particular collecting data by gender and race, in order to ensure that the program isn’t leaving out communities, minority- and women-owned businesses, or the smallest businesses.
Shelter-in-place orders, while critical to protecting the health of parishioners, have hit churches hard as collection revenue has virtually stopped. African American churches are especially at-risk during the downturn. One survey put the typical African American membership at just 75 congregants, while others have noted that annual revenue is down since much of it is typically collected during Easter season. At a time when many Americans will seek spiritual assistance and social support, we must ensure the preservation of religious institutions. The decision by Congress to include non-profits, including religious institutions, in the Paycheck Protection Program and Emergency Injury Disaster Loan programs was a critical first step. But the support has not flowed to these institutions the way it should. Well-connected companies were first in line for the support funding.Biden’s True Small Business Fund would also apply to non-profit groups like African American churches.

Expand African American Homeownership and Access to Affordable, Safe Housing 

The gap between African American and white homeownership is larger today than when the Fair Housing Act was passed in 1968. This has contributed to a jaw-dropping racial wealth gap—nearly 1,000%—between median white and African American households. Because home ownership is how most families save and build wealth, the disparity in home ownership is a central driver of the racial wealth gap. As President, Biden will invest $640 billion over 10 years so every American has access to housing that is affordable, stable, safe and healthy, accessible, energy efficient and resilient, and located near good schools and with a reasonable commute to their jobs. Biden will:

Help families buy their first homes and build wealth by creating a new refundable, advanceable tax credit of up to $15,000. Building off of a temporary tax credit expanded as part of the Recovery Act, this tax credit will be permanent and advanceable, meaning that homebuyers receive the tax credit when they make the purchase instead of waiting to receive the assistance when they file taxes the following year.

Tackle racial bias that leads to homes in communities of color being assessed by appraisers below their fair value. Housing in communities primarily comprised of people of color is valued at tens of thousands of dollars below majority-white communities even when all other factors are the same, contributing to the racial wealth gap. To counteract this racial bias, Biden will establish a national standard for housing appraisals that ensures appraisers have adequate training and a full appreciation for neighborhoods and do not hold implicit biases because of a lack of community understanding.

Roll back Trump Administration policies gutting fair lending and fair housing protections, strongly enforce fair credit reporting laws, and create a new Public Credit Reporting Agency. Being able to obtain a credit report is a critical step for homeownership. Biden has long been an advocate for eliminating discrimination in the provision of credit, including his legislation amending the Equal Credit Opportunity Act which prohibited creditors from discriminating against consumer applicants for credit. Today’s credit reports, which are issued by just three large private companies, are rife with problems: they often contain errors, they leave many “credit invisible” due to the sources used to generate a credit score, and they contribute to racial disparitieswidening the African American homeownership gap, Biden will create a new public credit reporting agency within the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to provide consumers with a government option that seeks to minimize racial disparities, for example by ensuring the algorithms used for credit scoring don’t have a discriminatory impact, and by accepting non-traditional sources of data like rental history and utility bills to establish credit.

Protect homeowners and renters from abusive lenders and landlords through a new Homeowner and Renter Bill of Rights. This new Bill of Rights will prevent mortgage brokers from leading borrowers into loans that cost more than appropriate, prevent mortgage servicers from advancing a foreclosure when the homeowner is in the process of receiving a loan modification, give homeowners a private right of action to seek financial redress from mortgage lenders and servicers that violate these protections, and give borrowers the right to a timely notification on the status of their loan modifications and to be able to appeal modification denials.

Roll back Trump Administration policies gutting fair lending and fair housing protections for homeowners. 

  • Give local elected officials the tools and resources they need to combat gentrification. Biden will implement the Obama-Biden Administration’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule requiring communities receiving certain federal funding to proactively examine housing patterns and identify and address policies that have a discriminatory effect. The Trump Administration suspended this rule in 2018. Biden will ensure effective and rigorous enforcement of the Fair Housing Act and the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. And, he will reinstate the federal risk-sharing program which has helped secure financing for thousands of affordable rental housing units in partnership with housing finance agencies.
  • Hold financial institutions accountable for discriminatory practices in the housing market. In 2013, the Obama-Biden Administration codified a long-standing, court-supported view that lending practices that have a discriminatory effect can be challenged even if discrimination was not explicit. But now the Trump Administration is seeking to gut this disparate impact standard by significantly increasing the burden of proof for those claiming discrimination. In the Biden Administration, this change will be reversed to ensure financial institutions are held accountable for serving all customers.
  • Restore the federal government’s power to enforce settlements against discriminatory lenders. The Trump Administration has stripped the Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity, a division of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, of its power to enforce settlements against lenders found to have discriminated against borrowers – for example by charging significantly higher interest rates for people of color than white individuals. Biden will return power to the division so it can protect consumers from discrimination.

Strengthen and expand the Community Reinvestment Act to ensure that our nation’s bank and non-bank financial services institutions are serving all communities. The Community Reinvestment Act currently regulates banks, but does little to ensure that “fintechs” and non-bank lenders are providing responsible access to all members of the community. On top of that gap, the Trump Administration is proposing to weaken the law by allowing lenders to receive a passing rating even if the lenders are excluding many neighborhoods and borrowers. Biden will expand the Community Reinvestment Act to apply to mortgage and insurance companies, to add a requirement for financial services institutions to provide a statement outlining their commitment to the public interest, and, importantly, to close loopholes that would allow these institutions to avoid lending and investing in all of the communities they serve.

Eliminate local and state housing regulations that perpetuate discrimination. Exclusionary zoning has for decades been strategically used to keep people of color and low-income families out of certain communities. As President, Biden will enact legislation requiring any state receiving federal dollars through the Community Development Block Grants or Surface Transportation Block Grants to develop a strategy for inclusionary zoning, as proposed in the HOME Act of 2019 by Majority Whip Clyburn and Senator Cory Booker. Biden will also invest $300 million in Local Housing Policy Grants to give states and localities the technical assistance and planning support they need to eliminate exclusionary zoning policies and other local regulations that contribute to sprawl.

Increase access to affordable housing. Biden will invest in expanding the supply of affordable housing by:

  • Establishing a $100 billion Affordable Housing Fund to construct and upgrade affordable housing. He will ensure funding supports community development efforts, expanding the HOME program and the Capital Magnet Fund, which spurs private investment in affordable housing and economic development in distressed communities.
  • Providing tax incentives for the construction of more affordable housing in communities that need it most. As President, Biden will expand the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit – a tax provision designed to incentivize the construction or rehabilitation of affordable housing for low-income tenants that has created nearly 3 million affordable housing units since the mid-1980s – with a $10 billion investment. Biden will also invest in the development and rehabilitation of single family homes across distressed urban, suburban, and rural neighborhoods through the Neighborhood Homes Investment Act.

Protect homeowners during the COVID-19 crisis. Biden has previously called for a rent freeze for qualifying individuals for the duration of the crisis, and a halt to foreclosures and evictions as people get back on their feet. Some banks are raising mortgage borrowing standards and requiring significantly higher down payments. Biden would also restrict the big banks’ ability to abandon the African American community by withdrawing from housing markets for all but the best-off buyers.

Read Joe Biden’s full housing plan at

Promote More Equitable Wealth Building and a More Secure Retirement

The typical white family holds approximately ten times the wealth as the typical African Americans family—a disparity that dramatically increased over the past half century. Today, the typical wealth of a white family is $171,000, compared to just $17,600 for the typical African American family. This inequity means that many African American families have insufficient wealth to enjoy a secure retirement. In fact, in 2016, the average African American family had just $25,000 saved for retirement—due in part to a retirement saving system that affords limited incentives for middle-class African American families to save for retirement. To make the U.S. retirement system more secure and equitable, Biden will:

Equalize the tax benefits of defined contribution plans. The current tax benefits for retirement savings are based on the concept of deferral, whereby savers get to exclude their retirement contributions from tax, see their savings grow tax free, and then pay taxes when they withdraw money from their account. This system provides upper-income families with a much stronger tax break for saving and a limited benefit for middle-class and other workers with lower earnings.

The Biden Plan will equalize benefits across the income scale, so that low- and middle-income workers will also get a tax break when they put money away for retirement.

Remove penalties for caregivers who want to save for retirement. African Americans are more likely to be caregivers than whites. They also bear disproportionate caregiving responsibilities relative to white caregivers. Biden will support informal caregivers by allowing them to make “catch-up” contributions to retirement accounts, even if they’re not earning income in the formal labor market, as has been proposed in bipartisan legislation by Representatives Jackie Walorski and Harley Rouda.

Give small businesses a tax break for starting a retirement plan and giving workers the chance to save at work. Half of African American workers lack access to a retirement saving plan at work. Biden calls for widespread adoption of workplace savings plans and offers tax credits to small businesses to offset much of the costs. Under Biden’s plan, almost all workers without a pension or 401(k)-type plan will have access to an “automatic 401(k),” which provides the opportunity to easily save for retirement at work—putting millions of middle-class families in the path to a secure retirement.

Make Social Security benefits more generous and equitable. Older African Americans disproportionately depend on Social Security benefits for retirement income. To bolster retirement security for older African Americans who have spent a lifetime working, the Biden Social Security reform plan will raise benefits for vulnerable beneficiaries—including widows and widowers, low-wage workers, and long duration beneficiaries who may have exhausted all other assets. In addition, Biden proposes to boost average benefits across the board while putting Social Security on a long-term path to solvency by raising payroll taxes for workers with more than $400,000 in earnings.

Invest in Communities that Need it Most

Fully implement Congressman Clyburn’s 10-20-30 Plan to help all individuals living in persistently impoverished communities. To tackle persistent poverty in all communities, in both urban and rural America, Vice President Biden supports applying Congressman James Clyburn’s 10-20-30 formula to all federal programs, targeting funds to census tracts with persistent poverty.

Create a White House “StrikeForce” to partner with rural communities to help them access federal funds. The Biden Administration will create a White House StrikeForce consisting of agency leaders who will partner with community-building organizations in persistent poverty rural communities and help them unlock federal resources. This approach is modeled on the StrikeForce Secretary Tom Vilsack successfully established in the U.S. Department of Agriculture during the Obama-Biden Administration.

Drive additional capital into low-income communities to spur the development of low-income housing. The New Markets Tax Credit draws in $8 of private investment for every $1 of federal investment in low-income communities by providing tax credits to investors in community development organizations that support everything from supermarkets to real estate projects to manufacturing plants. Biden will expand the program to provide $5 billion in support every year, and will make the program permanent so communities can take the credit into account in their long-term planning.

Build and modernize infrastructure in communities that need it most. Biden has offered a transformational $1.3 trillion plan to create millions of good-paying, union jobs—roads, ports, waterways, schools, broadband, schools, and more. His plan includes specific measures to close the resource gap in communities of color. Biden will:

  • Invest in historically marginalized communities and bring everyone to the table for transportation planning. Biden will create a new Community Restoration Fund, specifically for neighborhoods where historic transportation investments cut people off from jobs, schools, and businesses. And, he will work to make sure towns and cities directly receive a portion of existing federal transportation investments.
  • Bring broadband to every American household. As President, Biden will close the digital divide. First, he will invest $20 billion in rural broadband infrastructure. He will triple funding to expand broadband access in rural areas, and ensure that the work of installing broadband provides high-paying jobs with benefits. He will encourage competition among providers, to increase speeds and decrease prices in urban, suburban, and rural areas. Biden will also work with the FCC to reform its Lifeline program, increasing the number of participating broadband providers, reducing fraud and abuse, and ultimately offering more low-income Americans the subsidies needed to access high-speed internet. Finally, Biden will work with Congress to pass the Digital Equity Act, to help communities tackle the digital divide.

Read Joe Biden’s full plan to invest in infrastructure and our communities at, and his full plan for older Americans at

Support African American Workers 

Biden is proposing a plan to grow a stronger, more inclusive middle class—the backbone of the American economy—by strengthening public and private sector unions and helping all workers bargain successfully for what they deserve. Biden knows that African Americans face unique challenges as workers. Biden will support these workers by:

Fight for equal pay. African American women earned 61 cents for every dollar earned by white men in 2017. This totals $23,653 less in earnings in a year and $946,120 less in a lifetime. The Obama-Biden Administration protected more workers against retaliation for discussing wages and required employers to collect and report wage gaps to the federal government. As President, Biden will codify this into law, and he’ll make it easier for workers to join together in class action lawsuits, shift the burden to employers to prove pay gaps exist for job-related reasons, and increase penalties against companies that discriminate, as called for in the Paycheck Fairness Act. And, he’ll hold companies accountable by increasing funding for investigators and enforcement actions.

Ensure federally funded projects protect workers. Biden will propose infrastructure legislation that incorporates labor provisions contained in Senator Merkley’s Good Jobs for 21st Century Energy Act, adopting all basic labor protections, ensuring that all investments meet Davis-Bacon wage guidelines, and banning anti-worker provisions like forced arbitration and the overuse of temporary staffing agencies. He will require federally funded projects to employ workers trained in registered apprenticeship programs, and to prioritize Project Labor and Community Workforce Agreements in federal procurement procedures. His proposal will make sure that national infrastructure investments create millions of middle-class jobs, benefiting union and non-union workers across industries. Read Joe Biden’s full plan to encourage unions and collective bargaining at

Encourage diverse hiring and promotion practices. To push companies to look hard at their hiring practices and root out discrimination, Biden will require companies to make public their overall workforce diversity and senior-level diversity. He will support employers in increasing diverse hiring and promotion by providing federal grants to states, cities, and organizations to develop and implement evidence-based practices and innovative solutions, such as ban the box legislation, to push employers to hire and retain diverse employees and end discriminatory hiring policies. And, he will hold companies accountable by increasing funding for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), and the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division to increase the number of investigators.

Restore the federal government’s role in setting the bar for other employers to advance opportunities for all workers. Biden will restore and build on the Obama-Biden Administration’s Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces executive order, which Trump revoked, requiring employers’ compliance with labor and employment laws be taken into account in determining whether they are sufficiently responsible to be entrusted with federal contracts. And, he will mandate that contractors publicly disclose plans to recruit and advance people of color, women, people with disabilities, and covered veterans and will increase enforcement efforts, including pursuing debarment where contractors refuse to end discriminatory practices.

Protect essential workers in the COVID-19 crisis. report published in April found that “Black Americans are overrepresented in nine of the ten lowest-paid, high-contact essential services, which elevates their risk of contracting the virus.” Joe Biden has released a plan to protect these essential workers, and give them the respect, dignity, and pay they deserve.  If he were President, he would:

  • Ensure all frontline workers, like grocery store employees, qualify for priority access to personnel protective equipment (PPE) and COVID-19 testing based upon their risk of exposure to the virus, as well as child care assistance, and other forms of emergency COVID-19 support.
  • Expand access to effective personal protective equipment, including through use of the Defense Production Act.
  • Establish and enforce health and safety standards for workplaces.
  • Enact premium pay for frontline workers putting themselves at risk. There is no substitute for ensuring worker safety, but all frontline workers putting their lives on the line should receive premium pay for their work. This premium pay should be in addition to paid sick leave and care-giving leave for every worker, which Biden called for in his plan, and $15 minimum wage for all workers.

Turn unemployment insurance into employment insuranceAfrican American workers are more likely to work in jobs subject to reduced hours, furloughs, and layoffs during the pandemic. Biden would transform unemployment insurance into employment insurance for millions of workers by getting states to adopt and dramatically scale up short-time compensation programs. Under short-time compensation—also known as work sharing—firms in distress keep workers employed but at reduced hours and the federal government helps make up the difference in wages. The Obama-Biden administration championed this approach in the U.S., and so far more than half of states have established short-time compensation programs. For the current crisis, the administration should move rapidly to scale up short-time compensation in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands to save or restore millions of jobs.


As President, Biden will ensure that no child’s future is determined by their zip code, parents’ income, race, or disability. Biden will build an education system that starts with investing in our children at birth and helps every student get some education beyond a high school diploma, whether a certification, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree. Biden will:

Provide high-quality, universal pre-kindergarten for all three- and four-year-olds. For families with young children, finding highly quality pre-K is a major financial, logistical, and emotional burden, with potentially lifelong consequences for their children. As President, Biden will work with states to offer pre-K for all three- and four-year-olds.

Eliminate the funding gap between white and non-white districts, and rich and poor districts in order to give teachers a raise and expand STEM curriculum in underserved school districts. There’s an estimated $23 billion annual funding gap between white and non-white school districts today. Biden will work to close this gap by nearly tripling Title I funding, the federal program funding schools with a high percentage of students from low-income families. This new funding will first be used to ensure teachers at Title I schools are paid competitively, three- and four-year olds have access to pre-school, and districts provide access to rigorous coursework—including computer science and other STEM subjects—across all their schools, not just a few.

Improve teacher diversity. For African American students, having just one African American teacher in elementary school reduces the probability of dropping out. Biden will support more innovative approaches to recruiting teachers of color, including supporting high school students in accessing dual-enrollment classes that give them an edge in teacher preparation programs, helping paraprofessionals work towards their teaching certificate, and working with Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority-Serving Institutions to recruit and prepare teachers.

Reinstate the Obama-Biden Administration’s actions to diversify our schoolsAs President, Biden will reinstate the Department of Education guidance that supported schools in legally pursuing desegregation strategies and recognized institutions of higher education’s interests in creating diverse student bodies. And, he will provide grants to school districts to create plans and implement strategies to diversify their schools.

Ensure that African American students are not inappropriately identified as having disabilities, while also ensuring that African American students with disabilities have the support to succeed. African American students are 40% more likely to be identified as having any disability, and twice as likely to be identified as having certain disabilities, such as emotional disturbance and intellectual disabilities. The Obama-Biden Administration issued regulations to address racial disparities in special education programs, including disproportionate identification. The Trump Administration attempted to illegally delay the Obama-Biden Administration’s regulation. Biden will fully implement this regulation and provide educators the resources that they need to provide students with disabilities a high-quality education by fully funding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Address the African American student debt crisis. The student debt burden has a disproportionate impact on African Americans. The typical bachelor’s degree graduate has about $16,000 in debt compared to $23,400 for African Americans students. According to a recent Brookings Institution study, African Americans graduating with a four year degree are 5 times more likely to default on their student loans than white graduates. African American students are three times more likely to default on their student loans than white student borrowers. The inequitable burden of student loan debt contributes to the stark racial wealth gap that exists in society. Biden’s plans to address student loan debt will alleviate student debt burdens by:

  • Including in the COVID-19 response an immediate cancellation of a minimum of $10,000 of federal student loan debt.
  • Forgiving all undergraduate tuition-related federal student debt from two- and four-year public colleges for debt-holders earning up to $125,000. This will also apply to individuals holding federal student loans for tuition from private HBCUs and MSIs.
  • Forgiving loan payments for individuals making $25,000 or less per year and capping loan payments at 5% of discretionary income for those making more.
  • Fixing the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program and forgiving $10,000 of undergraduate or graduate student debt for every year of national or community service, up to five years.
  • Cracking down on private lenders profiteering off of students by empowering the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to take action against private lenders who are misleading students about their options and do not provide an affordable payment plan when individuals are experiencing acute periods of financial hardship.
  • Permitting the discharge of student loans in bankruptcy.

Increase college completion by making college affordable for African American students. Our postsecondary education system has not done enough to help African American students access, afford, and succeed in high-quality postsecondary education. 64% of white students graduate from four year institutions, compared to only 40% of African Americans. To help African American students access and complete college, Biden will:

  • Make public colleges and universities tuition-free for all students whose family incomes are below $125,000, including students at public HBCUs.
  • Providing two years of community college or other high-quality training programs without debt for any hard-working individual looking to learn and improve their skills to keep up with the changing nature of work. This commitment includes two-year public HBCUs. Individuals will also be able to use these funds to pursue training programs that have a track record of participants completing their programs and securing good jobs, including adults who never had the chance to pursue additional education beyond high school or who need to learn new skills.
  • Targeting additional financial support to low-income and middle-class individuals by doubling the maximum value of Pell grants, significantly increasing the number of middle-class Americans who can participate in the program. According to the Department of Education, almost 60% of African American undergraduates received a Pell grant during the 2015-2016 academic year. Biden also will restore formerly incarcerated individuals’ eligibility for Pell.

 Invest over $70 billion in the Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority-Serving Institutions that will train our next generation of African American professionals. Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are key to educating our next generations of African American leaders. They enroll about 10% of African American students, while accounting for more than 20% of African American bachelor’s degrees awarded. 40% of African American engineers and 80% of African American judges are HBCU graduates. But these institutions do not receive the investment that reflects their importance. The Thurgood Marshall College Fund estimates that the typical HBCU endowment is one-eighth the average size of historically white colleges. As President, Biden will take steps to rectify the funding disparities faced by HBCUs so that the United States can benefit from their unique strengths. Biden will:

  • Make HBCUs more affordable for their students. Biden will invest $18 billion in grants to four-year HBCUs and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs), equivalent to up to two years of tuition per low-income and middle class student. He will invest additional funds in private, non-profit HBCUs and under-resourced MSIs so they are not undermined by the Biden proposal to make four-year public colleges and universities tuition-free for students. Schools must invest in lowering costs, improving retention and graduation rates, and closing equity gaps year over year for students of color.
  • Reduce disparities in funding for HBCUs and MSIs.
  • Invest $10 billion to create at least 200 new centers of excellence that serve as research incubators and connect students underrepresented in fields critical to our nation’s future – including fields tackling climate change, globalization, inequality, health disparities, and cancer – to learning and career opportunities.
  • Build the high tech labs and facilities and digital infrastructure needed for learning, research, and innovation at HBCUs and MSIs.
  • Invest $5 billion in graduate programs in teaching, health care, and STEM and will develop robust internship and career pipelines at major research agencies.

Create a “Title I for postsecondary education” to help students at under-resourced four-year schools complete their degrees. The Biden Administration will establish a new grant program to support under-resourced four-year schools that serve large numbers of Pell-eligible students. The funds will be used to foster collaboration between colleges and community-based organizations to provide wraparound support services for students, including additional financial aid to cover textbook and transportation costs that often keep students from staying enrolled, to child care and mental health services, faculty mentoring, tutoring, and peer support groups.

Make a $50 billion investment in workforce training, including community-college business partnerships and apprenticeships. These funds will create and support partnerships between community colleges, businesses, unions, state, local, and tribal governments, universities, and high schools to identify in-demand knowledge and skills in a community and develop or modernize training programs – which could be as short as a few months or as long as two years – that lead to a relevant, high-demand industry-recognized credential.

Read Joe Biden’s full education plans at and


The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the long-standing, pervasive disparities that exist across our health care system due to unequal access to treatment. An early analysis indicates that counties with majority-African American populations have coronavirus infection rates three times higher than counties with majority white residents, with death rates nearly six times higher. Although COVID-19 can hit anyone anywhere, it does not affect every community the same. African Americans are more likely to be uninsured and report higher rates of chronic health problems, and these factors increase their chances of becoming seriously ill and dying from this disease. This is unconscionable. Biden calls on Congress to immediately enact Senator Kamala Harris’ bill to create a task force to address the racial disparities that have been laid bare by this pandemic. As President, he will do everything in his power to eliminate health care disparities.

Ensuring access to health care during this crisis. In the short-term, Biden’s COVID-19 response plan calls on the Trump Administration to drop its support of a lawsuit to overturn Obamacare. Millions of Americans may lose their health insurance because they lose their job, and millions more may find health care increasingly difficult to afford. During this crisis, Biden would expand access to quality, affordable health care for all through:

  • Creating a public option;
  • Providing full payment of premiums for COBRA plans;
  • Increasing Affordable Care Act subsidies;
  • Reopening Obamacare enrollment so uninsured individuals can get insured;
  • Increasing federal investments in Medicaid;
  • Ensuring that every person, whether insured or uninsured, will not have to pay a dollar out-of-pocket for visits related to COVID-19 testing, treatment, preventative services, and any eventual vaccine. No co-payments, no deductibles, and no surprise medical billing.

Ensure access to affordable, high-quality health care beyond the crisis. Because of Obamacare, over 100 million people no longer have to worry that an insurance company will deny coverage or charge higher premiums just because they have a pre-existing condition – whether cancer or diabetes or heart disease or a mental health challenge. Insurance companies can no longer set annual or lifetime limits on coverage. Roughly 20 million additional Americans obtained the peace of mind that comes with health insurance. Young people who are in transition from school to a job have the option to stay covered by their parents’ plan until age 26. As President, Joe Biden will build on Obamacare. He will help address racial disparities in the health care system in the following ways:

  • Reducing the uninsured rate for African Americans by creating a public option health plan. Nationally, 11% of nonelderly African Americans are uninsured, compared to 8% of white people. This disparity is far greater in states with Republican governors who have not expanded Medicaid. Biden will give all Americans a new choice, a public health insurance option like Medicare. And he will ensure the individuals who would be eligible for Medicaid but for their state’s inaction are automatically enrolled on to the public option, at no cost to the individual.
  • Improving care for patients with chronic conditions, by coordinating among all of a patient’s doctors. This is particularly important for patients with chronic conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension, which disproportionately impact African Americans.
  • Lowering costs for African Americans enrolled in Obamacare plans by increasing the value of tax credits to lower premium and lowering deductibles by making other changes to how the tax credits are calculated.
  • Lowering drug prices, by allowing Medicare to negotiate with drug prices and stopping drug companies from price gouging on new drugs.
  • Reducing our unacceptably high African American maternal mortality rate. African American women are 2.5 times more likely to die from pregnancy complications than non-Hispanic white women. California came up with a strategy that halved the state’s maternal death rate. The Biden plan takes the California strategy nationwide.
  • Expanding access to reproductive health care, including contraception and protecting the constitutional right to choose. Biden supports repealing the Hyde Amendment. He will also restore funding for Planned Parenthood, which provides services necessary to address health disparities, including breast cancer screenings and HIV/AIDS counseling, screening, and treatment. The breast cancer death rate is over 40% higher for African Americans than white women, and in 2016, African American women comprised 60% of new HIV cases.
  • Doubling the nation’s investment in community health centers. Community health centers provide primary, prenatal, and other important care, and their patients are disproportionately members of racial and ethnic minority groups, including African Americans.
  • Expanding access to mental health care. African Americans are far less likely to receive mental health services or compared to white adults.  Biden will ensure mental health parity and eliminating the stigma around mental health are critical to closing this gap.
  • Tackling social determinants of health. Because racial health disparities are the result of years of systemic inequality not only in our health care system, but across our economy, other parts of Joe Biden’s agenda are also necessary to improve the overall well-being of African Americans. For example, African Americans are more likely to face exposure to air pollutants that cause respiratory illnesses that make them particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.

Invest in the diverse talent at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) to solve the country’s most pressing problems, including health disparities. As part of Biden’s more than $70 billion investment in HBCUs and MSIs, he will invest $10 billion to create at least 200 new centers of excellence that serve as research incubators and connect students underrepresented in fields critical to our nation’s future to learning and career opportunities. He will develop robust internship and career pipelines at major research agencies, including National Institutes of Health. He will also dedicate additional and increased priority funding streams at federal agencies for grants and contracts for HBCUs and MSIs. And, he will require any federal research grants to universities with an endowment of over $1 billion to form a meaningful partnership and enter into a 10% minimum subcontract with an HBCU, TCU, or MSI.

Build a diverse pipeline of health care professionals by investing in health care graduate programs at HBCUs and MSIs. As part of Biden’s more than $70 billion investment in HBCUs and MSis, he will invest $5 billion in graduate programs in health care, along with teaching and STEM, at HBCUs and MSIs.

Read Joe Biden’s full health care plan at


Today, too many people are incarcerated in the United States – and too many of them are African American. To build safe and healthy communities, we need to rethink who we’re sending to prison, how we treat those in prison, and how we help them get the health care, education, jobs, and housing they need to successfully rejoin society after they serve their time. As President, Biden will strengthen America’s commitment to justice and reform our criminal justice system.

The Biden Plan for Strengthening America’s Commitment to Justice is based on several core principles:

  • We can and must reduce the number of people incarcerated in this country while also reducing crime. Reducing the number of incarcerated individuals will reduce federal spending on incarceration. These savings should be reinvested in the communities impacted by mass incarceration.
  • Our criminal justice system cannot be just unless we root out the racial, gender, and income-based disparities in the system. African American mothers and fathers should feel confident that their children are safe walking the streets of America. And, when a police officer pins on that shield and walks out the door, the officer’s family should know they’ll come home at the end of the day. Additionally, women and children are uniquely impacted by the criminal justice system, and the system needs to address their unique needs.
  • Our criminal justice system must be focused on redemption and rehabilitation. Making sure formerly incarcerated individuals have the opportunity to be productive members of our society is not only the right thing to do, it will also grow our economy.
  • No one should be profiteering off of our criminal justice system.

Biden will call for the immediate passage of Congressman Bobby Scott’s SAFE Justice Act, an evidence-based, comprehensive bill to reform our criminal justice system “from front-end sentencing reform to back-end release policies.” The Biden Plan will also go further. Biden will take bold action to reduce our prison population, create a more just society, and make our communities safer. He will:

Expand and use the power of the U.S. Justice Department to address systemic misconduct in police departments and prosecutors’ offices. Using authority in legislation spearheaded by Biden as senator, the Obama-Biden Justice Department used pattern-or-practice investigations and consent decrees to address circumstances of “systemic police misconduct” and to “restore trust between police and communities” in cities such as Ferguson. Yet, the Trump Administration’s Justice Department has limited the use of this tool. Under the Biden Administration, the Justice Department will again use its authority to root out unconstitutional or unlawful policing. In addition, Biden will push for legislation to clarify that this pattern-or-practice investigation authority can also be used to address systemic misconduct by prosecutors’ offices.

Establish an independent Task Force on Prosecutorial Discretion. The Biden Administration will create a new task force, placed outside of the U.S. Department of Justice, to make recommendations for tackling discrimination and other problems in our justice system that results from arrest and charging decisions.

Reinvigorate community-oriented policing. Policing works best when officers are out of their cruisers and walking the streets, engaging with and getting to know members of their communities. But in order to do that, police departments need resources to hire a sufficient number of officers. Biden spearheaded the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program, which authorized funding both for the hiring of additional police officers and for training on how to undertake a community policing approach. However, the program has never been funded to fulfill the original vision for community policing. Biden will reinvigorate the COPS program with a $300 million investment. As a condition of the grant, hiring of police officers must mirror the racial diversity of the community they serve. Additionally, as President, Biden will establish a panel to scrutinize what equipment is used by law enforcement in our communities.

Invest in public defenders’ offices to ensure defendants’ access to quality counsel. Defenders’ resources and support are too decentralized and too hard to access. Biden will expand the Obama-Biden effort to expand resources for public defenders’ offices.

Create a $20 billion grant program to support criminal justice reform at the state and local level. Funds can be used by cities and states on measures proven to reduce crime and incarceration, and require states to eliminate mandatory minimums for non-violent crimes in order to receive funding.

Reform sentencing. Biden will work with Congress to reform federal sentencing and provide incentives to state and local systems to do the same. He will end, once and for all, the federal crack and powder cocaine disparity, decriminalize the use of cannabis and automatically expunge all prior cannabis use convictions, and end all incarceration for drug use alone and instead divert individuals to drug courts and treatment. He will work to eliminate mandatory minimums and the death penalty.

End the criminalization of poverty. Cash bail is the modern-day debtors’ prison. Biden will lead a national effort to end cash bail and reform our pretrial system by putting in place, instead, a system that is fair and does not inject further discrimination or bias into the process. And, he will work to end the practice of jailing people for being too poor to pay fines and fees.

Stop corporations from profiteering off of incarceration. Biden will end the federal government’s use of private prisons, building off an Obama-Biden Administration’s policy rescinded by the Trump Administration. And, he will make clear that the federal government should not use private facilities for any detention, including detention of undocumented immigrants.

Eliminate existing barriers preventing formerly incarcerated individuals from fully participating in society. For example, Biden will eliminate barriers keeping formerly incarcerated individuals from accessing public assistance such as SNAP, Pell grants, and housing support. The Biden Administration will incentivize states to automatically restore voting rights for individuals convicted of felonies once they have served their sentences. He will also expand access to mental health and substance use disorder treatment, as well as educational opportunities and job training for individuals during and after incarceration.

Reform the juvenile justice system. Biden will invest $1 billion per year in juvenile justice reform. He will expand funding for after-school programs, community centers, and summer jobs to keep young people active, busy, learning, and having fun. Biden will double the number of mental health professionals in our schools so behavioral and emotional challenges can be addressed by appropriately skilled psychologists, counselors, and social workers, not our criminal justice system. And, he will restore the Obama-Biden Administration guidance to help schools address the high number of suspensions and expulsions that affect students of color at a higher rate than white students.

Make our communities safer. Biden will pursue evidence-based measures to root out persistent violent crime. Violent offenders need to be held accountable, and survivors need to have access to support to deal with the physical, psychological, and financial consequences of violence. Biden will tackle the rise in hate crimes through moral leadership that makes clear such vitriol has no place in the United States. And, in the Biden Administration, the Justice Department will prioritize prosecuting hate crimes. Additionally, Biden will address the daily acts of gun violence in our communities that may not make national headlines, but are just as devastating to survivors and victims’ families as gun violence that does make the front page. These daily acts of gun violence disproportionately impact communities of color. Biden will create a $900 million, eight-year initiative to fund evidence-based interventions in 40 cities across the country – the 20 cities with the highest number of homicides, and 20 cities with the highest number of homicides per capita. This proposal is estimated to save more than 12,000 lives over the eight-year program.

Read Joe Biden’s full criminal justice plan at and his plan to reduce gun violence at


President Trump has rolled back civil rights enforcement across the government and cut staff for the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.  In the first two years of the Trump Administration, the Division started 60% fewer investigations than during the Obama-Biden Administration. As President, Biden will reverse the damage done by Trump and increase funding for civil rights enforcement. He will ensure that the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, the EEOC, and agency civil rights enforcement offices have the resources they need to root out and stop discrimination. He will also:

Ensure that political appointees, including the President’s Cabinet, look like the country they serve, and ensure that our federal workforce is representative of the demographics in our country. The Obama-Biden Administration made great progress in building a diverse federal workforce, but Biden knows work remains for the country to fully realize the benefits of the talents, abilities, and perspectives of a workforce that looks like the country. As President, Biden will nominate and appoint people who look like the country they serve and share Biden’s commitment to rigorous enforcement of civil rights protections. He will reissue and mandate strict compliance with the Obama-Biden executive order to promote diversity and inclusion. He will rebuild the pipeline of workers into the federal government and incentivize more qualified workers to choose public service by forgiving $10,000 a year in student debt for up to five years of public service. He’ll tap into the best and brightest talent from every source by developing career pipelines from Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority Serving Institutions into federal agencies. Biden will also provide more training and mentoring opportunities to improve retention, and collect better data about who is applying for federal service positions as well as being promoted.

Appoint U.S. Supreme Court justices and federal judges who look like America, are committed to the rule of law, understand the importance of individual civil rights and civil liberties in a democratic society, and respect foundational precedents like Brown vs. Board of Education and Roe v. Wade. Biden has also pledged to appoint the first African American woman to the U.S. Supreme Court, a move which is long overdue. We can’t have four more years of Trump appointees filling lifetime judiciary seats. Trump has already appointed 193 federal judges – including two Supreme Court justices. Only eight are African American. Seven Trump appointees were rated “not qualified” by the American Bar Association.

Ensure every vote counts. Since the Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder, an increasing number of states have passed laws with no apparent purpose besides making it more difficult to vote, especially for people of color. It’s just as un-American now as it was during Jim Crow. As President, Biden will strengthen our democracy by guaranteeing that every American’s vote is protected. He will start by passing the Voting Rights Advancement Act to update section 4 of the Voting Rights Act and develop a new process for pre-clearing election changes. He also will ensure that the Justice Department challenges state laws suppressing the right to vote. Biden supports automatic voter registration, same-day voter registration, and many more steps to make exercising one’s right to vote easier. Biden will ensure that the Justice Department has the resources and authority to enforce laws that protect our voting rights. Biden believes we need to end gerrymandering and we must protect our voting booths and voter rolls from foreign powers that seek to undermine our democracy and interfere in our elections. And, the Biden Administration will incentivize states to automatically restore voting rights for individuals convicted of felonies once they have served their sentences.

Combat the epidemic of violence against transgender women of color. As a direct response to the high rates of homicide of transgender people—particularly transgender women of color—the Biden Administration will make prosecuting their murderers a priority. And, during his first 100 days in office, Biden will direct federal resources to help prevent violence against transgender women, particularly transgender women of color. Recognizing that employment and housing discrimination lead to increased risk of homelessness and violence, Biden will also work to pass the Equality Act to reduce economic barriers and social stigma and the LGBTQ Essential Data Act to help collect a wide variety of critical data about anti-trans violence and the factors that drive it.

Tackle systemic racism and support a study of the continuing impacts of slavery. We must acknowledge that there can be no realization of the American dream without grappling with the original sin of slavery, and the centuries-long campaign of violence, fear, and trauma wrought upon African American people in this country. As Biden has said in this campaign, a Biden Administration will support a study of reparations. Biden will begin on day one of his Administration to address the systemic racism that persists across our institutions today. That’s why he developed educationclimate change, and health care policies, among others, that will root out this systemic racism and ensure that all Americans have a fair shot at living the American dream.


Biden knows we cannot turn a blind eye to the way in which environmental burdens and benefits have been and will continue to be distributed unevenly along racial and socioeconomic lines – not just with respect to climate change, but also pollution of our air, water, and land. The evidence of these disproportionate harms is clear. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America and the National Pharmaceutical Council, African Americans are almost three times more likely to die from asthma related causes than their white counterparts. People of color are more likely to live in areas most vulnerable to flooding and other climate change-related weather events. They are also less likely to have the funds to prepare for and recover from extreme weather. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, African American and Hispanic residents were twice as likely as non-Hispanic white individuals to report experiencing an income shock and lack of recovery support.

As President, Biden will stand up to the abuse of power by polluters who disproportionately harm communities of color and low-income communities. He has asked his campaign to commence a process to more deeply engage with environmental justice leaders and develop additional policies related to environmental justice. The policies, to be announced in the weeks ahead, will build on the proposals he has put forward to date:

Reinstate federal protections, rolled back by the Trump Administration, that were designed to protect communities. Biden will make it a priority for all agencies to engage in community-driven approaches to develop solutions for environmental injustices affecting communities of color, low-income, and indigenous communities.

Hold polluters accountable. African American children living in poverty are more likely than wealthier white children to live in a community that borders toxic chemical facilities. Extreme weather can increase the health risks of being co-located with these toxic structures. Under the Trump Administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has referred the fewest number of criminal anti-pollution cases to the Justice Department in 30 years. Allowing corporations to continue to pollute – affecting the health and safety of both their workers and surrounding communities – without consequences perpetuates an egregious abuse of power. Failure to reduce emissions disproportionately hurts African American and Hispanic residents who experience 37% higher exposure to nitrogen dioxide (a toxic pollutant) compared to non-Hispanic whites. This leads to an increased rate of premature death due to heart disease. As President, Biden will direct EPA and the Justice Department to pursue these cases to the fullest extent permitted by law and, when needed, seek additional legislation as needed to hold corporate executives personally accountable – including jail time where merited.

Ensure access to safe drinking water for all communities. Biden will make water infrastructure a top priority, for example, by establishing systems to monitor lead and other contaminants in our water supply and take necessary action to eliminate health risks, including holding polluters accountable and support communities in upgrading their systems. In addition, Biden will double federal investments in clean drinking water and water infrastructure, and focus new funding on low-income rural, suburban, and urban areas that are struggling to replace pipes and treatment facilities – and especially on communities at high risk of lead or other kinds of contamination. In addition, Biden will reduce the matching funds required of local governments that don’t have the tax base to be able to afford borrowing to repair their water systems.

Monitor for lead and other contaminants and hold polluters accountable. As President, Biden will also require state and local governments to monitor their water systems for lead and other contaminants, and he will provide them with the resources to do so. Biden will also work with the EPA and the Justice Department to hold companies that pollute our waterways accountable, aggressively enforcing existing regulations and prosecuting any violations. Corporations and their executives cannot break the law and expect to get away with it.

Prioritize communities harmed by climate change and pollution. Low-income communities and communities of color don’t equally share in the benefits of well-paying job opportunities that result from our clean energy economy. As President, Biden will make sure these communities receive preference in competitive grant programs in the Clean Economy Revolution. In addition, Biden will pursue new partnerships with community colleges, unions, and the private sector to develop programs to train all of America’s workforce to tap into the growing clean energy economy; incorporate skills training into infrastructure investment planning by engaging state and local communities; and reinvigorate and repurpose AmeriCorps for sustainability, so that every American can participate in the clean energy economy. We also know that resiliency investments can raise property values and push lower-income families out of their neighborhoods. Climate change mitigation efforts must consciously protect low-income communities from “green gentrification.”

Additional materials:

Get Into Energy

Author Get Into Energy       Published: 10/29/2020             CEWD

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Ice Cube Demands Politicians Sign Contract with Black America Before Getting Support of Black Vote

Author: Ice Cube                  Published:  8/22/2020       Cision PR Newsire

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LOS ANGELESAug. 22, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — This morning, Ice Cube released a video titled “What’s In It For Us” demanding politicians sign the Contract with Black America before they get the support of the Black vote:

As citizens and lawmakers both, we are joining to demand the Contract with Black America be addressed immediately to finally create the “more perfect union” all Americans deserve. As such, it is time for a complete paradigm shift in how we run our institutions and operate our country. The problems facing America are too deep and wide to simply reform one area or another. Long-lasting solutions demand a comprehensive thorough “rethink” of America so that each new approach in each area supports the success of the others. This Contract with Black America will provide conceptual approaches in several areas.

Darrick Hamilton, in the Preface to the Contract, says “This Contract with Black America strikes at the heart of racism and presents a blueprint to achieve racial economic justice. It was written in the backdrop of the killing of George Floyd, which set off a wave of protests not seen since the Civil Rights Era of the 1950’s and ’60’s, and a global pandemic in which the Black mortality rate is more than double the White rate and in which 45% (nearly half) of Black-owned businesses closed. That the impact of something presumably random, such as a pandemic, however catastrophic, can be so linked to one’s racial identity is highly problematic – and further evidence that, as a nation, we are failing miserably. This links to a larger political and economic vulnerability, whether we’re in a pandemic or not: the immoral devaluation of Black lives has been ingrained in America’s political economy and is long overdue for a reckoning. This Contract with Black America is a patriotic pathway to promote our shared prosperity and achieve racial economic justice.” Ambassador Andrew Young is equally supportive. “The Pandemic has revealed to us the importance of the essential worker of which many are minorities. We can grow no stronger without improving the sustainability of those at the bottom of the economic pyramid. The Contract for Black America is a comprehensive step toward an action plan that addresses the future stability of minorities and essential workers across the nation.”

To address racial inequality, after reading the Contract with Black America, we the undersigned agree to support and demand an open debate and a clear and fair vote within the first 100 days of the 117th Congress in 2021 on the following proposals to be codified into specific bills:

1. Bill to Guarantee Black Opportunity and Representation.
Adopt a plan of “Neo-Reconstruction” to redress past wrongs systematically imposed on Black Americans economically throughout many generations that has resulted in a “wealth gap” where the average White family has 10x the wealth of a Black Family. In addition to some of the economic initiatives listed below, also formally apologize to Black Americans for past discrimination and slavery. Additionally Black opportunity and representation will include: Affirmative Action in schools public and private; per student funding in states on an equal basis instead of paid by local property taxes; Black representation on all government civil rights bodies; civil rights classes mandatory in elementary schools; Gerrymandering reform; additional polling places in Black and minority neighborhoods; Juneteenth to become a Federal holiday.

2. Bank Lending Reform.
Bank lending will be regulated to require banks to lend a percentage of all loan and credit categories on an equal basis to the Black population each Bank serves. However, the minimum threshold must yearly meet the percentage equal to the national Black population (currently approximately 13.4%). Rates on Black loans federally and from banks to be same average rates as Whites.

3. Federal Funding of “Baby Bonds“.  
Pass federal program providing every child with a government funded trust account at birth starting with a $1,000 contribution. As proposed by Senator Booker and Representative Pressley, accounts to be managed by the Treasury and only those born into lower-wealth families would receive more contributions each year up to $46,500 total. At age 18 access to the funds allowed but use restricted to asset enhancing actions such as buying homes, starting businesses and funding education.

4. Federal Reserve and Government Pensions.
For qualified Black Americans, Federal Reserve to allow a one-time interest free loan for home ownership. The Fed to ensure Banks and institutions it oversees comply with Bank Lending Reform. Fed to adopt Modern Monetary Theory with goal of Full Employment and avoidance of Actual Inflation. Federal and State pension funds control over a trillion dollars. They must allocate 13.4% of their investments into Black owned enterprises and businesses. Venture Capital and Private Equity funds that take money public entities must invest 13.4% of their total funds in Black owned businesses.

5. Finance Oversight.
A Banking Commission (or even a Cabinet or Sub-Cabinet post) will be set up to overlook and report on Black and minority lending, housing ownership and mortgages, and enforcement of items 2 and 3 above. Such authority will also oversee and audit federal programs such as Economic Opportunity Zones and Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) to determine who is benefiting from disbursement of such funds. Will provide for a transparent reporting mechanism for abuses to economic programs designed to benefit communities in need.

6. Personal Data and Credit.
Most states publicly release bulk data about arrestees unchecked. Like the 1970 Fair Credit Reporting Act regarding credit data, there must be guidelines regarding arrest records that allow similar privacy and accuracy protections and the right to dispute and correct inaccurate data.  Credit services will be reformed to mandate consideration of individual consumer data on rent, utility, cellphone, and other like bill payments.

7. Prison Reform.
Privately run prisons will be abolished, prison labor disallowed without consent, and nonviolent offenders incarcerated for 10 years or longer will be freed if good behavior standards met. All prisoners for marijuana possession freed. First offense for illegal drug use or possession to require government payment for entry into an approved drug rehabilitation program rather than imprisonment. Once any prisoner completes sentence, voting rights are restored.

8. Judicial Reforms.
Eliminate mandatory minimums and three strike laws. The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice reformed through stricter guidelines and greater oversight over police departments. DOJ can be sued for non-compliance. Lynching to become a federal hate crime and the Ku Klux Klan declared a terrorist organization.

9. Police Reform Act.
Police reforms will be implemented in an expansive act that will at minimum include:  Elimination of Qualified Immunity; requirement of mandatory malpractice insurance for police officers; make municipalities liable for unconstitutional actions by police; mandatory use of dashboard and body cams; elimination of chokeholds and “no-knock” warrants; establishment of residency requirements, de-escalation training, and requirement to update training; severe penalties for evidence tampering including withholding DNA. A federal database of police and disciplinary records established and made public and once fired for cause cannot be rehired. Creation of Office of Independent Prosecutors to solely focus on prosecuting police accused of wrongdoing. Other reforms as listed in greater detail in the Contract with Black America.

10. FCC Licensing of public airwaves.
Broadcast networks will be required to air Black produced content equal to 20% of the total content on the network as measured by time.

11. Confederate Monuments and Institutions.
Elimination of all Confederate statues and uses or displays of Confederate flags on government grounds or property with public access. Rename all streets, schools, public structures, etc. named after Confederate soldiers or leaders. A memorial will be built in Washington D.C. to victims of police excessive force.

12. AJP Program for Education and Jobs.
Adoption of AJP, A Public/Private program that provides access to jobs and education and/or training for people willing to put in the work and commitment.

13. Black Responsibility.
Chronic poverty creates an atmosphere full of negativity, frustration, hopelessness, depression, alcoholism, drug abuse, crime, and violence. These are some of conditions that plague the Black Community which is dealing with extreme generational poverty. As we begin to gain social and economic equality it is our duty to clean up ourselves and our community. This contract is a 2-way street. As we gain social and economic equality, we must begin to dissolve any bitterness in our hearts for past wrongs. We must become better citizens who are more productive on all levels of American society. We really must step up after we pass the Contract with Black America with no more excuses left in the kiddie. Our entertainers should be persuaded to deliver more positive content that leads our youth to make better choices in life. A new pride must develop with these new opportunities and we must fight against negativity, frustration, hopelessness, depression, alcoholism, drug abuse, crime, and violence.

HBCUs Urged to Move Toward Solar Energy

Author: Mark Gary           Published: 10/22/2020             Wahington AFRO News

Ronald Bethea and his company Positive Change Purchasing Co-Op (PCPC) as well as other businesses are collaborating to help HBCUS move towards preparing students for the solar energy industry. (Courtesy Photo)


As renewable energy and job creation become centerpieces to America’s economic recovery, HBCUs and Black Americans could benefit through business and technology development opportunities. Three D.C. based companies are collaborating to bridge the gap between the African-American community and the solar energy industry.

Ronald Bethea, a former Morgan State football player who lives in Washington, D.C, has established the Positive Change Purchasing Co-Op (PCPC) as a national platform for educating the African-American communities nationwide about the economic impacts of climate change and the need for environmental education in Black areas. His company has teamed with Peer Consultants and WDC Solar and Sundial Solar from Jackson, Miss. as the founding members of the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners.

Through the organization’s collaboration, Bethea hopes to help HBCUs enter into public and private partnerships with solar companies and private investment firms to create more solar farms on African-American owned farm lands and Black College campuses nationwide.  It also wants to ensure minorities are in position to capitalize on the $2 trillion “Green New Deal” funding proposed by a Joe Biden presidency.

“HBCUs have the land to build these grids on their campuses and shift the paradigm in many ways,” Bethea told the AFRO. “If you can be self-sufficient taking care of your energy needs and profit from it’s excess that would be a game changer.”

Bethea also said that, in addition to academic and career opportunities for students, solar energy could be a significant revenue stream for HBCUs. Energy costs for most Black Colleges are only exceeded by employee salaries. It is estimated that Howard University spends between $15-18 million annually on energy costs alone.  However, Bethea says they could offset the cost by investing in renewable fuel to service their needs and re-selling the energy to local power companies.

PCPC’s HBCU Solar Radio Initiative focuses on using the nation’s 106 HBCUs to become NABCEP representatives, who offer certificate training. They would provide web-based training in their local markets for those interested in pursuing business opportunities or career options in the solar energy industry.  It is also encouraging partnerships between Black colleges and workforce development programs to collaborate with local solar companies in their regions to help them develop apprenticeship training programs for people that are successful in completing the NABCEP continuing education or work development training programs.

According to a report by Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the U.S. residential solar market experienced unprecedented growth in the third quarter of 2019. The increase in residential installations helped the U.S. solar market grow by 45 percent and contributed to 15 states having their best quarter ever for residential solar business. NABCEP feels the opportunities for information on these new business prospects aren’t readily accessible for minority participation.

“People are waking up,” Bethea said.  “Climate change and the pandemic have forced innovation.  We have been the most creative people on the planet forever.  This is an important moment in our history and we have to be prepared to take advantage of it.”

The collaborative is hoping to encourage HBCUs to work in conjunction with Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) to help identify students majoring in business administration at HBCUs to assist local solar companies in writing proposals targeting local and federal grants to develop training programs.  He feels that would reduce the amount of time and resources needed for smaller solar companies in their marketplace to complete the application process for grants and proposals.

Bethea is using digital technology to spread the message through his blog talk radio podcast “Solar Now and The Future with Its Economic Impact On Black America.”

Berkeley Puts Equitable Climate Action on the Ballot — Episode 115 of Local Energy Rules

Author:  Maria  McCoy          Published: 10/21/2020            ILRS


When cities have done their part to power the community with clean electricity, the final push of the clean energy transition rests on individuals. Still, individuals can come together, pass innovative local policy, and hold themselves accountable to a clean and equitable ethos.

In this episode of the Local Energy Rules Podcast, host John Farrell speaks with Ben Paulos of the Berkeley, Calif. Energy Commission. Paulos and the commission have given the community a chance to put its money where its mouth is with a “climate equity action fund” on the ballot this November. Farrell and Paulos discuss how voting yes to Measure HH is a step toward the city’s zero carbon emissions goal — all while centering energy equity.

Listen to the full episode and explore more resources below — including a transcript and summary of the conversation.

Episode Transcript

Already a Leader in Ambitious Climate Policy, Berkeley Hopes to Handle Remaining Emissions

Berkeley, Calif. gets its electricity from East Bay Clean Energy (EBCE), a community choice energy entity. EBCE provides fossil fuel-free electricity to its customers, including Berkeley.

Hear East Bay Clean Power Alliance Coordinator Jessica Tovar explain how EBCE was established, and what it does for the community, in episode 98 of Local Energy Rules.

Having a clean electricity supply, Berkeley is left to address its transportation and building emissions — and the city can only do so much. Some of the clean energy transition must be carried by individuals, households, and businesses.

Ben Paulos, an energy professional, joined Berkeley’s energy commission after the city announced it would be fossil fuel-free in 10 years. He hopes to help the city get there — but how? By creating a fund for energy equity and climate action.

We need some money to pay for all of these great things that the city says they want to do… that was really the genesis for the Climate Equity Action Fund, to put our money where our mouth is.

Solar Arrays in Berkeley, Calif.

Ballot Measure HH

Berkeley Ballot Measure HH creates a fund to fight global warming by taxing utility sales. Called the Climate Equity Action Fund, the money raised will create electrification, energy efficiency, and clean energy incentives in Berkeley.

The best way to solicit action from the public is to offer them cash incentives

Utility customers in Berkeley are already charged a 7.5% utility user tax. To increase equity, Measure HH exempts low-income customers from this tax and increases it for everyone else. Low-income households will be identified by their subscription to California’s CARE or FERA rate discount programs. Paulos estimates that the tax exemption will save 5,000 utility customers $160 each.

Increasing the tax on other customers — to reach approximately $4.00 per month, depending on energy use — will raise about 2.5 million dollars a year. Plus, as Paulos reiterates, this money will be returned to the customers as rebates for their electrification, clean energy, and energy efficiency improvements.

It’s really a collective action to get ourselves to take responsibility and to move on climate change.

Beyond reducing taxes for low-income households, Paulos hopes that Measure HH will further equity by creating clean energy job training and cutting local pollution.

Berkeley Tackles Building Emissions

Berkeley was the first city in the country to ban gas hookups to new, multi-family buildings. However, Paulos says that there is little new construction in Berkeley. To be truly fossil fuel-free, the city needs to address gas use in existing buildings.

The Climate Equity Action Fund can support homeowners, and others, who are willing to trade out gas appliances for their electric counterparts. The fund could also pair with energy efficiency support from the state of California, which now recognizes the value of fuel switching.

Learn more about Berkeley’s revolutionary gas ban from Kate Harrison, City Council member for Berkeley, Calif., and Sean Armstrong, Zero Net Energy Designer and Managing Principal at Redwood Energy.

Widespread Support, Little Opposition

The Sierra Club, Greanpeace,, Citizens Climate Lobby, East Bay Working Families, the Berkeley Tenants Union, and the League of Women Voters have all endorsed Measure HH. Paulos also lists several “notable citizens” (business and thought leaders) of Berkeley who support the measure.

Stubborn utility companies often present a barrier to progress, but in this case, utilities are unopposed. Paulos explains that since Pacific Gas & Electric is both a gas and electric utility, it does not fight fuel switching — it will make up losses in gas sales with more electricity sales.

One anti-taxing group opposes Measure HH, but Paulos says that “here in Berkeley, that’s practically an endorsement.” He believes Berkeley residents are unafraid of taxes — provided the city does good things with their money.

Local Clean Energy Taxes are Trending

Many cities are utilizing taxes and fees to create funds for their climate and clean energy goals.

Farrell draws attention to several, including Minneapolis’s Franchise fee (a fee on the utility), the Portland Clean Energy Fund (a surcharge on big businesses), and Seattle’s JumpStart Tax (a payroll tax on high-level corporate employees). Paulos adds that Denver has a climate fund sales tax on the ballot this fall.

If we could count on the federal government to do all of this for us, if we had a national carbon tax and national renewable energy laws and EV policies and so on, then they’d probably be a lot less concerned at the local level — but that is absolutely not happening.

Stay tuned for an upcoming episode of Building Local Power featuring Abigail Juaner and Jill Mangaliman, advocates for Seattle’s JumpStart tax.

How Should Cities Use their Clean Energy Funds?

Cities take action reflective of their values, says Paulos. Berkeley Measure HH, if passed, will demonstrate the city’s commitment to advancing equity as it decreases its carbon emissions.

Once Berkeley has the money, it will have to plan how to use it. Paulos believes that the commission should review outside proposals, taking care that everyone gets the opportunity to pose an idea — not just the loudest or most connected individuals.

Climate change is not a problem in the future. It’s a problem that’s here right now and it’s in our faces and it’s in our lungs.

Paulos hopes that the Berkeley Climate Action Equity Fund demonstrates a “next step” for other cities that, like Berkeley, have clean energy goals or climate emergency declarations.

Episode Notes

See these resources for more behind the story:

For concrete examples of how cities can take action toward gaining more control over their clean energy future, explore ILSR’s Community Power Toolkit.

Explore local and state policies and programs that help advance clean energy goals across the country, using ILSR’s interactive Community Power Map.

This is episode 115 of Local Energy Rules, an ILSR podcast with Energy Democracy Director John Farrell, which shares powerful stories of successful local renewable energy and exposes the policy and practical barriers to its expansion.

Local Energy Rules is Produced by ILSR’s John Farrell and Maria McCoy. Audio engineering by Drew Birschbach.

This article originally posted at For timely updates, follow John Farrell on Twitter, our energy work on Facebook, or sign up to get the Energy Democracy weekly update.

Solar array image credit: Firstcultural via Wikipedia (CC0 1.0)

NREL Challenge: Solar District Cup 2021

Author: DOE Office of Technology         Published: 10/26/2020        DOE

Challenging multidisciplinary student teams to design and model optimized distributed energy systems for a campus or urban district.

Welcome to the U.S. Department of Energy Solar District Cup Collegiate Design Competition!

The Solar District Cup challenges multidisciplinary student teams to design and model optimized distributed energy systems for a campus or urban district. These systems integrate solar, storage, and other distributed energy capabilities across mixed-use districts, or groups of buildings served by a common electrical distribution feeder. The competition engages students across the engineering, urban planning, and finance disciplines to reimagine how energy is generated, managed, and used in a district.

Teams compete in one of multiple divisions, each structured around a distinct district use case. A winner is selected for each division, based on the quality of their solar energy system design. The strongest designs provide the highest offset of annual energy and greatest financial savings. This will be determined by a techno-economic analysis conducted by students and evaluated by judges. The goal is to design, model, and present the most reliable, resilient, and cost-effective system possible.

Students will present their solutions to judges at a virtual live competition event, from which the winners will be selected and announced.


The Solar District Cup is designed to inspire students to consider new career opportunities, learn new industry-relevant skills, engage with the professional marketplace, and prepare to lead the next generation of distributed solar energy. As competitors, students:

  • Build experience with innovative renewable energy design
  • Develop real-world solutions that shape the future of solar energy
  • Engage with industry professionals to forge relationships and connections that aid participating students’ transition to the solar energy workforce upon graduation
  • Compete to earn national recognition upon winning a Solar District Cup and/or being selected as an industry choice winner.

The Solar District Cup encourages collaboration between academia and industry. The program seeks to establish public-private partnership and demonstrate corporate and nonprofit industry co-sponsorship.

2020 AND 2021 PROGRAMS

The Solar District Cup Class of 2020 was the inaugural cohort of the competition. Students competed from September 2019 through April 2020. Further details about the 2020 competition, including a list of winners, can be found here.

The Class of 2021 program was launched on April 30, 2020, and will span the 2020-2021 academic year. Choose “follow” at the top of this page to be sure that you hear about the program and select “submit your solution” if you’re planning to be part of a collegiate team.


To learn more about the program and the current competition:

To learn more about the Class of 2020:

The Solar District Cup is directed and administered by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and is funded by the DOE Solar Energy Technologies Office. Learn more.



Small Businesses with Million-Dollar Ideas

Author:   DOE Office of Technology         Published: 10/26/2020                DOE


Meet the seven small solar companies that received about $1 million in fiscal year 2019 to develop their prototypes through the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer program. Their innovations address cybersecurity, communication, hardware, and more. After completing a feasibility study and developing a proof of concept with Phase I program funding, the companies will use these awards to develop their prototypes. Learn more about each project:

Power Outage Safety and Preparation: What to Know Before the Electricity Shuts Off

Author: Ryan Tollefsen                      Published: 10/23/2020             Unity Home Group

Power Outage Information for Households

A power outage is a fairly common event, and it can happen to anyone at any time. This type of outage describes an interruption of power, however temporary, that causes a loss of electricity to a building. Although power outages can be over in an instant or last several days, the average is a little less than two hours. This depends on the area in which people live, as well as the time of year and the current weather.

Preparing for a power outage may seem like an impossible task, but the work often pays off with lower stress and less damage to the home. People can ensure their own safety, as well as that of their children and pets, by paying attention to the situation as it unfolds. They can also make the experience less troublesome by taking several steps to prepare for the possibility. Power outages are common enough that people may not take them very seriously. However, the type of power outage, as well as its cause, can put humans and pets at risk. These tips help people know what is going on, what they need to do, and a few things they can do in advance.

What Causes a Power Outage?

In many cases, people can learn to anticipate the possibility of a power outage based on the most likely causes. Power does not shut down arbitrarily, although it may be difficult to find the source. Common causes include:

  • Weather
  • Falling trees
  • Animals
  • Planned outages

If people understand how this event can affect their access to power, they can plan for it so that it has less of an effect on their lives.

The idea that weather can cut power may be fairly easy to understand. The typical weather events that may trigger an unexpected loss of power are:

  • Excessive wind
  • Lightning
  • Snow or ice
  • Flooding caused by runoff or excessive rain

Although most of these can be somewhat predictable, wind may be the most difficult to anticipate. Even slight winds can cause power lines to sway or touch other objects, which would trigger a temporary short in the circuit. People expecting extreme winds can plan in advance, but it does not necessarily require a tornado or hurricane to cause this problem.

Outages caused by precipitation, like snow, ice, or rain, may be temporary or could possibly last up to several days. It is important to note that flooding can cut power to underground lines as well as above-ground ones. People should consider the effect of long-lasting storms with heavy precipitation throughout the year. This may help them identify a plan of action that provides extra protection during those seasons. Likewise, lightning storms have a certain degree of predictability. Lighting strikes the closest source, which means that taller objects are at greater risk. A falling tree can take down a power line, triggering an outage.

Other Causes of Power Outages

Other possible causes of a power outage depend on the location of the power source. For example, a vehicle accident that knocks out a utility pole may temporarily shut down power to homes and businesses that rely on power going through that particular line. When only a small portion of a neighborhood has a power outage, these causes are more likely to be the trigger. Small animals may also be the culprit, since they are more likely to run up and down a utility pole and accidentally touch a transformer.

For power lines that are above ground, falling trees may be one of the biggest issues. Many things can cause a tree to fall down, including:

  • Weakness of the tree’s structure
  • Car accidents
  • Heavy snowfall or wind

Even a tree-trimming or landscaping service making a mistake could cause a limb to fall on a power line.

Ultimately, people should pay attention to their surroundings, especially the weather forecast. Power outages range from a few minutes of inconvenience to days of struggle. They can even be life-threatening if they last a long time or come when weather is extremely hot or cold. Having a plan for power outages that is tailored to the season and the family’s needs is the best way to ensure a better outcome.

Types of Power Outages

Along with different causes, there are several different types of power outages that people should consider:

  • Blackout
  • Brownout
  • Permanent Fault

A blackout indicates a complete loss of power. By comparison, a brownout indicates a decrease in the amount of available power. Its name describes the way the access to lighting changes, instead of simply having the lights go out. Brownouts may indicate the possibility of a future black out. They may also be very short in duration, lasting as little as a few seconds. A permanent fault indicates an actual problem with the line, such as a downed power line. The power restores once the problem is solved.

Rolling blackouts are a common approach taken by cities to control high electricity needs at specific times of the year. For example, in an area with very hot summers, utility companies may plan to have rolling blackouts during peak-use times of the day. This creates a short-term hassle for people without power during a specific time. It is designed to avoid overwhelming the grid, which could trigger a longer outage. Although rolling blackouts are more common in less-developed areas, they can be a prominent feature of cities with a large population as well.

How to Prepare for a Power Outage

Power Outage Home Preparation

In order for a power outage to have the least effect on people, they need to know what is likely to happen during a power outage and how they should prepare. Some outages are very brief and may not require activation of a long-term plan to cope. Others could last for days and require significant changes to family life during the outage. These aspects help people determine precisely how an outage is likely to affect them personally so they can take steps to decrease the long-term effects and possible damage.

Make a Disaster Kit and Plan

As a general rule, government organizations recommend that families have a disaster kit designed to provide for their basic needs for three days. What needs to go in the kit depends greatly on the number of people in the household, what and how much they need to consume, and other needs they may have. Experts strongly suggest gathering supplies that will accommodate pets, since food and shelter may be even more difficult to achieve for them. Although a disaster kit is designed to provide for people during a power outage while they remain in their homes, people may also want to plan for the possibility that they need to evacuate.

People should put the following items in a safe place:

  • One gallon of water per person per day
  • A three-day supply of non-perishable food, preferably items that need little or no preparation or cleanup
  • Radio that runs on batteries
  • Prescription medications in current bottles
  • First aid kit
  • Lighting, including flashlights or LED candles
  • Charging sources for phones and other devices
  • Matches
  • Personal hygiene supplies like toilet paper, soap, or menstrual products

For their pets, they should include:

  • Pet food and water
  • Familiar beds
  • Small, lightweight toys
  • Portable housing for pets if they need to be moved to another location

Although people may want to keep kits like this on hand for any disaster, some of these items will need regular rotation. For example, canned goods can last for years but not necessarily decades. Medications will require a regular update.

Preparing for a possible evacuation may be a necessity, and not just for power outages. The cause of the outage, like a flood, might require people to move to safer ground. Families should create an evacuation plan they can use when all of them are at home as well as evacuating when they are at work, school, or another location. The plan must identify:

  • Common places to go for safety
  • A couple of ways to get there, in case one is blocked
  • Ways to communicate with each other in the event people are separated

People may want to designate a family member who does not live in the area to receive and distribute communications. This can help ensure that everyone can find each other and learn if the other family members are in a safe place.

Consider Buying a Generator

When people have to consider the possibility of a power outage that lasts for several hours or longer, they may want to think about alternatives that can help them keep crucial systems running. Battery-operated devices are helpful and generally quite affordable. However, they are limited in scope and require a regular supply of batteries. Instead, it may be worth considering a generator to provide supplemental power during the outage.

Generators typically run on fuel that is easily accessible such as gasoline or propane. The fuel runs a system that produces electricity for the generator, not unlike a car’s engine. Power provided depends on the size of the generator. Some products can manage high-energy systems like an air conditioner, while others may just be enough to power a few basic outlets. The generator can be connected directly to the homes electrical system to provide a continuous current of power. There are also generators available for portable use. People should keep in mind that any system using fuel and generating exhaust must be properly ventilated outside.

Know When to Toss Food in the Fridge

Once a power outage passes the first couple of hours, people should consider what they will need to do with perishable food and other items in the home. The way that food goes bad depends on:

  • The food item
  • How it is stored
  • What kind of refrigeration devices people have

For example, fresh milk will spoil much faster at room temperature than cheese that has been aged for 1-2 years. People should keep in mind that the temperature of the refrigeration device will stay colder if they can minimize the number of times that they open it.

As a general rule, deep freezes will keep food cold longest. The items at the bottom of a chest freezer will be the last to defrost in most cases. An upright freezer may be able to keep items at a maximum acceptable temperature for a day or two. A standard refrigerator can keep most foods cold for about four hours. After this time passes, people may need to consider throwing out the food. Keeping the storage compartments as full as possible will slow down the defrosting process. If people suspect a power outage coming in several hours or days, they may want to fill containers with water and freeze or refrigerate them in advance to help keep the interior colder.

Have Light Sources Ready

Although power outages can happen at any time of the day or night, having access to adequate lighting is a necessity every time. Candles have been a popular option for decades, but people should keep in mind that products that use wax and a flame may not be the most appropriate choice. Instead, people should invest in flashlights, battery-operated button lights, and lanterns they can use. Lighting systems that use LED bulbs consume significantly less energy, which allows them to last longer on the battery. At least one light source should be easy to find at any time—even in the dark.

Minimize Extreme Weather Concerns

In extreme weather circumstances, people may need to take extra care during a power outage to ensure they do not put themselves or the other members of the household at risk. The steps they should take depend on the weather circumstances. For example, a power outage during extremely high heat may require people to open doors and windows, or use other means to keep the home from becoming hotter than the air outside.

By comparison, a power outage of more than a few hours during a very cold winter may call for people to stay inside and minimize opening any doors. This helps to keep some of the ambient heat in the home inside. They may also need to consider alternate heating sources, although fuel-based options may not be safe or realistic to use during a power outage.

People should also keep in mind that other parts of the system can be affected by cold weather. Running faucets on a slow drip can keep the water in the plumbing from freezing and bursting the pipes. Ultimately, the best thing that people can do during a power outage with extreme temperatures is to know when they should evacuate to a place that has power and access to heating and cooling. Staying in a home that is at or below freezing temperatures for days can be just as deadly as remaining in a home with temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Find Ways to Stay Occupied

In a world where people rely heavily on electronic devices for work, school, and entertainment, finding other ways to pass the time is important. Although people can certainly use smartphones so long as service is available, they may want to have a backup of energy-free options. These might include:

  • Books
  • Board games
  • Playing cards

To help children avoid boredom, parents may want to keep a small number of toys and books out of their children’s regular rotation ready for such a situation. This makes it easier to ensure that the children are sufficiently engaged by the items and will spend more time interacting with them.

Know How to Report a Power Outage

Utility companies have a variety of things they can offer people dealing with a power outage. This is something that people will want to research in advance. It can also make them more aware of things like planned outages relating to upgrades to equipment. It is easy to assume that someone will report a significant power outage to the utility company so that they can work on fixing it. This is not always the case, however. People should plan to call the utility to report the outage as soon as possible. They can also look online to see if the company offers updates on their progress toward solving it.

Minimize Potential Damage

A power outage, even one that lasts only for a few minutes, can cause damage to equipment as well as putting people at risk. It is important to consider the possible loss of equipment or data as a factor in people’s preparation plans. Just as people would put their sensitive documents into a firesafe or waterproof container in case of a house fire or flood, they should be careful about what can happen to their computers or data backups from a power outage.

Systems that run on electricity are generally designed to minimize how much power goes through the circuit. This makes sense because if the systems could not control that power, then it would be very easy to send too much power to a piece of equipment and destroy it. However, around a power outage, there may be cause to suspect that the system could fail.

People may be able to minimize damage resulting from this by using tools like surge protectors or GFCI outlets. Surge protectors act as a kind of last-ditch effort to minimize the energy current. If there is a power surge due to something like a lightning strike, then the surge protector may be able to protect equipment from becoming the target of that surge. Ground fault circuit interrupters are designed to shut down the outlet as soon as the current exceeds a specific amount. This can reduce the likelihood that a surge could damage the equipment or injure the people standing nearby.

An uninterruptible power supply is one way that people can give themselves time to shut down devices without an immediate loss of power. This acts as a temporary battery for the machine and is usually built in. It is not like using a generator to charge a laptop battery, however. The UPS will run out relatively quickly, and people may end up with the same problem if they do not act to shut down the computer early enough.

People can also minimize the likelihood of damage by keeping regular backups in more than one place with one of those options maintained outside of the home. These days, cloud storage is relatively easy and cheap to access. Many people choose to keep most or all their backups through a company that provides storage space. They must periodically check on the backups to confirm they are working properly and not corrupted. Saving one bad file in a backup can make it difficult or impossible to retrieve any of the data.

Keep Phones and Electronics Charged

Charging phones and electronics that run on batteries regularly is a good way to keep communication working throughout the power outage. This means that people may not want to wait until they go to bed to charge their devices. Keeping phones or other communication tools at a battery level that will provide at least a couple of hours of use at all times can better ensure that people will have it until they get power back or can move to a place with power sources available. This also applies to backup battery options like a USB battery bank.

During a Power Outage

What to do When the Power Goes Out

In some cases, a power outage is simply a short period of time in which people may need to find other forms of entertainment. In other cases, people need to take great care to avoid hurting themselves or others during the outage. Some time-honored approaches that feel natural, like lighting a bunch of candles or running a hot bath, may not necessarily be the safest or the most practical ideas. People should take steps to ensure that they have the least amount of risk until the power is back on.

Don’t Light Candles

The idea of lighting a bunch of large candles and playing board games during a power outage holds fond memories for many adults. However, candles are a significant fire risk. Some of the ingredients in highly scented candles may not be safe for people to inhale in a home where the ventilation is currently shut down. Instead, people should plan to use LED candles or flashlights. If regular candles are the only option, they must be under constant adult supervision so that kids or pets do not knock them over.

Don’t Leave Things Plugged In

Although GFCI outlets and surge protectors are designed to control the current that goes through an outlet, this does not mean that equipment and appliances are safe to remain plugged in during a power outage. A surge can happen at any time, and an untested surge protector may not be able to prevent damage. Instead, people should plan to unplug their electronic devices in advance of the power outage or as soon as they become aware of it. This will help to ensure the equipment remains ready for use. Leaving a lamp or other light plugged in and turned on makes it easier to know when the outage is done.

Don’t Open the Fridge or Freezer (Unless Necessary)

While it may be tempting to delve into the freezer and eat all the ice cream before it melts, it is much better for people to leave the fridge and the freezer closed as long as possible. Refrigerators and upright freezers devote a large amount of surface area to the door, which means that every time someone opens the door, a significant amount of warmer air from the room can enter. People should keep at least a small amount of non-perishable goods and water they can use for eating, drinking, and cleaning until the power comes back on.

Don’t Grill Indoors or Use a Generator in Your Garage

People may not be aware that their homes have a significant number of ventilation systems designed to protect them. Most of these systems require electric power, which means they do not work during a power outage, so people need to be careful about the alternatives they might use to provide power or heat while they wait for the power to return. For example, anything that runs on fuel can generate exhaust. This exhaust is high in carbon monoxide, which can be deadly to humans and pets. It is also colorless and odorless, so people may not realize that they have a problem until they are in very serious trouble.

To reduce the likelihood that this could become a problem, people should plan to avoid using any heat or power sources that run on fuel inside the home or the garage, including:

  • Outdoor barbecue grills
  • Generators
  • Fuel-based space heaters and other equipment

People using a generator to run something like a gas furnace should also be careful. Even though both of these systems may have built-in ventilation outside, it might not be as effective. Installing carbon monoxide detectors around the home can help alert people when there is a problem. Providing shelter for the generator while it is outside may protect it from excess wind or precipitation.

Don’t Use Up All Water at Once

Hot water heaters that use a tank need electricity to start the burner or heat the water. Without power, the water in the tank will eventually become cold. However, people should be wary of how much water they use during an outage. If they are not sure of the cause, they may not know if the water supply is also at risk. A power outage caused by flooding could also mean the water supply is contaminated and unsafe for use. It is better for people to rely on bottled water for drinking and sanitation until they have more information.

Staying Comfortable With the AC or Heater Out

Even if the outside temperature isn’t at a critical level, people may still struggle to stay adequately cool or warm without access to an air conditioner or heater. In hotter temperatures, they can avoid feeling miserable or getting sick by:

  • Keeping doors and windows closed while it is hot outside
  • Using doors and windows to draw in cooler temperatures at night
  • Purchasing a battery-operated fan
  • Wetting a hand towel and leaving it to dry in the center of a room
  • Spending time in the basement or main floor, avoiding the highest level of the home

These suggestions may not prevent someone from getting heat sickness in high heat, but they can minimize most people’s discomfort for a few hours.

In cold weather conditions, households might consider heating things up by:

  • Using the fireplace or a wood burning stove (safely).
  • Wearing layers of warm clothing and using blankets.
  • Sealing their home and closing doors.
  • Using hand warmers.
  • Huddling together in the same room.

Stay Away from Pooling Water

Since storms with heavy precipitation are such a common cause of power outages, people should be aware of the dangers related to pooling water. An outage does not necessarily mean that there is no electricity in the area, just that there is some kind of fault in the circuit. Downed power lines nearby with large puddles of water from a rainstorm may create a very dangerous situation if people are in the water. Similarly, pools of water that are left standing for days may breed contaminants that could make people sick if they submerge in it or drink it.

After a Power Outage

After a power outage, people should take stock of their current situation and make plans to get back to normal. Before doing anything else, adults should research online and investigate the area. They must confirm that it is safe before allowing children or pets outside or unattended. Just because the power is back at home does not mean that everywhere is safe to go. During their inspection, people should take note of any damage inside or outside the property. They should keep close records, including pictures, if possible. This will make it easier to file a claim with insurance, if necessary.

Otherwise, people can prepare to get back to their typical daily activities. Going through the refrigerator and freezer and throwing out any food that is no longer safe for consumption should be one of the first steps. If people shut off the water supply out of concern for flooding, then they may be able to turn it back on if the city has not placed any restrictions. They should inventory any items that they used from an emergency kit, and plan to restock anything that was used up. This is also a good time to think about items that were not included but turned out to be necessary or useful.

General Energy Conservation Tips

Conserving Energy at Home

Many broad-scale power outages result because the energy demands for the area exceed the supply and electricity in reserve. People may be able to minimize the likelihood of blackouts or rolling blackouts by changing the way they consume energy in the home. Even a handful of minor changes could cut someone’s energy consumption by 10 percent or more. This is true for businesses as well as residences. If everyone in an area took similar steps, they could significantly cut the energy load without necessarily compromising on their most important needs.

When people start to think about energy conservation, they need to consider what they use as well as when they use it. There are many devices throughout the home or office that might consume more power than expected, like a box for cable or satellite television or a laser printer. Equipment can use energy even if it is turned off. Disconnecting these devices from power when they are not in use can decrease the amount of energy used by the household as a whole. If people are considerate, they may be able to unplug more than 10 devices.

The time of day that people use energy is also extremely important. For example, during the hottest part of the summer, energy needs will be highest during the hottest part of the day. This means that people are more likely to deal with a blackout in the afternoon, because more people are running resource-intensive air conditioners at that time. Adjusting thermostat settings on an air conditioner to a minimum 78 degrees Fahrenheit can cut down on the amount of energy that people need to run it. This also helps to avoid taxing the grid. Business owners could consider relaxing dress requirements so that their employees can wear clothing that is comfortable in higher temperatures.

People can also choose to run appliances during off-peak hours of the day or night. Many utility companies offer a discount to account holders who operate appliances like the oven, dishwasher, or clothes dryer at night. This helps to spread out the energy load that the city needs at any given point in time, helping them to provide power more consistently to everyone. If people do choose to run equipment in off-hours, they may not notice a decrease in their energy consumption. However, the benefit of steady power is usually enough of a reward to keep doing it.

The right choices for people depend on what they need from electricity. As a general rule, they may get extra benefits if they:

  • Find ways to stay cool other than the air conditioner
  • Rely on building ventilation instead of opening doors and windows
  • Use curtains to allow light in or keep heat out
  • Switch to LED bulbs instead of incandescent

Energy conservation is not an all-or-nothing proposition. If people plan to do a handful of things as they can, they are likely to see improvements in their energy bills as well as reducing the chances of power outages.

Staying Safe

Few people enjoy having to deal with a power outage. The longer it lasts, the more likely it is that members of a household will have to handle limited access to technology, throw out food, or consider evacuation to a building that has steady power. In most cases, people may not need to take steps to protect themselves. They only need to wait and avoid causing damage while they get updates and prepare for the power to come back on.

Since many power outages do not come with an early warning, preparation in advance is key to helping families avoid hassle or serious complications during the outage. This includes creating a plan with a kit of supplies to provide basic needs for residents and pets, as well as an evacuation plan in case of emergency. It also involves making basic upgrades to the home and buying equipment that will allow people to remain safely at home for the duration. Safe practices during the outage also make sure that everyone gets to the end with a lower risk of sickness or injury. Knowing what to do helps people to feel less worried when a power outage happens to them.



DCSEU – DC SEU Wards 7 & 8 Solar Initiative



Author: DCSEU        Published: 10/20/2020                     DOEEDCSEU Releases Solar for All RFPs to Bring More Solar to Low Income DC Residents

The DCSEU recently released two Requests for Proposals (RFPs) for the FY 2021 Solar for All program. The DCSEU is soliciting bids from contractors and development teams that enable the DCSEU to extend the benefits of solar power to District residents meeting specified income levels – including seniors, veterans, and residents and families with limited incomes. Selected bidders will receive incentives to install solar on single family residential homes and at community solar host sites with all output designated to low income residents.  Over the past two years, the DCSEU has partnered with contractors and developers to install 220 solar PV systems on income-qualified residents’ homes, and has built approximately 14 MW of community solar that is delivered to residents through credits on their utility bills.

Join us for two information sessions to learn more about these RFPs and how you can work with the DCSEU to bring solar to more income-qualified families in DC:

Seeking contractors to develop community solar PV projects in DC
October 20, 2020
1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Register for the CREF webinar →


Seeking contractors to install solar PV on single-family homes in DC
October 21, 2020
1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Register for the single-family webinar →

Solar for All is a program of the District Department of Energy & Environment that aims to bring bring the benefits of solar energy to 100,000 low to moderate income families in the District of Columbia.


Google To Provide Digital Skills Training At HBCUs As Part Of $15 Million Pledge

Author:  Ruth Umoh         Published: 10/202/2020             Forbes

Bowie State's new Center for Natural Sciences, Mathematics and Nursing

The Covid-19 pandemic has placed a spotlight on the deepening digital divide in the U.S. as students move to online learning. For Black college students, the unequal access to digital literacy has a direct impact on their job prospects upon graduation.

In an effort to bridge the digital skills gap, Google announced on Tuesday a partnership with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund to provide 20,000 students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) with access to digital skills training starting in November.

The tech giant will launch a Career Readiness Program through a $1 million grant that will embed its national online skills training initiative, Grow with Google, and custom workforce readiness workshops into the career centers of 20 schools, with the goal to eventually reach all 101 HBCUs and the nearly 300,000 students that are enrolled in them by fall 2021.

The first four schools in the program are Bowie State University in Maryland, Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina, Southern University A&M College in Louisiana and Virginia State University.

The initial $1 million investment is part of a $15 million fund to upskill Black job seekers, which Google announced amid a wave of antiracism activism in June as part of its larger $175 million commitment to racial equity.

Nearly two-thirds of the 13 million new jobs created in the U.S. between 2010 and 2018 require medium or advanced levels of digital skills, such as data analytics or social media and content marketing. But about half of Black job seekers lack the required digital competencies employers seek, hampering their economic mobility and exacerbating wage disparity.

“We’re seeing this digital transformation and acceleration occur, and so we’re making sure that the career centers within these educational institutions have the ability to immediately provide access to skills training,” says Bonita Stewart, vice president of global partnerships at Google and a graduate of the Washington, D.C.-based HBCU Howard University.

The HBCU Career Readiness Program will offer content that includes topics like design thinking, project management and professional brand building.

Google already has ongoing partnerships with HBCUs, most notably through initiatives like its Tech Exchange, a pilot that began in 2017 as a three-month computer science residency for Howard University students but has since expanded to serve students from about a dozen Black and Hispanic-Serving Institutions.

HBCUs play a significant role in the creation of Black science degree holders. Though they represent just 3% of all colleges and universities in the U.S., HBCUs produce almost 30% of Black students with bachelor’s degrees in STEM fields.

Still, many lack the technological infrastructure and financial resources to prioritize digital skills training. HBCUs receive a fraction of the average size of endowments that historically white colleges and universities receive and more than 75% of students at HBCUs rely on Pell Grants—a federal subsidy program for individuals with exceptional financial need—to meet their college expenses.

“At the fund, we leverage corporate partnerships that provide students from communities like these with the opportunity to access resources they wouldn’t normally have access to, especially those who are first-generation college students or first-generation corporate professionals,” says Harry Williams, president and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.

“This is a unique opportunity to give these students a competitive advantage and help them advance their skills in technological areas.”

COVID-19 Partner Update October 19, 2020: Campus Guidebook – Slowing the Spread at US Colleges and Universities

Author: U.S. Department of Education      Published: 10/20/2020            US Dep. of Edu.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention





DOE and National Lab Partners Will Join Forces with Local Organizations to Upgrade Energy Systems

Author: Solar Energy Technologies Office     Published:  10/20/2020                   DOE

Energy dot gov Office of Energy Efficiency and renewable energy

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the Energy Transitions Initiative Partnership Program (ETIPP), a new partnership that will provide resources and access to on-the-ground support for remote and islanded communities in the United States seeking to transform their energy systems and lower their vulnerability to energy disruptions.

This cross-sector initiative will build on tools developed by DOE, pool the technical assets of community-based organizations, and engage DOE’s national labs to work alongside communities pursuing energy transitions. Together, this broad coalition will empower competitively selected communities to plan for, withstand, and recover from energy disruptions.

“Remote and islanded communities face some of the highest energy costs in the United States and are often most vulnerable to disruptions,” said Daniel R Simmons, Assistant Secretary of the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “By leveraging, refining, and building on the technical assets and resources of the Department of Energy, and working in partnership with these communities, we believe that this program can enable communities to plan for a more resilient future with more affordable energy.”

ETIPP will combine deep energy sector experience with specialized local expertise to address energy challenges, build capacity, and accelerate the sharing of best practices and innovations. Drawing upon DOE’s holistic, community-driven approach to building resilience, this coalition will provide technology-neutral technical assistance that prioritizes local challenges, values, and goals. Working collaboratively with communities, the ETIPP network will identify and advance strategic, tailored technological solutions designed to bolster community resilience and reduce economic risk.

To compound the impact of the Energy Transitions Initiative’s proven resilience framework, ETIPP will leverage the support, experience, and expertise of:

  • DOE Office of Strategic Programs
  • DOE Water Power Technologies Office
  • DOE Solar Energy Technologies Office
  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory
  • Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
  • Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
  • Sandia National Laboratories

ETIPP will combine deep energy sector experience with specialized local expertise to address energy challenges, build capacity, and accelerate the sharing of best practices and innovations. The team selected the following community-based partners to work with communities on stakeholder and capacity development:

  • Alaska Center for Energy and Power DOE Office of Strategic Programs
  • Coastal Studies Institute
  • Hawaii Natural Energy Institute
  • Island Institute
  • Renewable Energy Alaska Project

The ETIPP network will provide technology-neutral technical assistance that prioritizes local challenges, values, and goals. The program will support at least three cohorts of communities, with an anticipated 12-18 month project per community. In winter 2020, communities will be able to apply to participate in this collaborative effort to achieve their resilience goals.


Energy Department Announces Solar Desalination Prize Competitors

Author: DOE Solar Energy Technologies Office         Published: 10/19/2020             DOE

Energy dot gov Office of Energy Efficiency and renewable energy

Solar Desalination Prize

Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the 19 quarterfinalists who will advance to the next contest in the $9 million Solar Desalination Prize. Part of DOE’s American-Made Challenges, the Solar Desalination Prize is designed to accelerate the development of systems that use solar-thermal energy to produce clean water from salt water for municipal, agricultural, and industrial use.

Chosen from more than 160 applicants, the 19 quarterfinalists will receive $50,000 in cash and advance to the second contest of the competition. The competitors come from 12 states and represent universities, industry, and national labs. They have proposed diverse solutions for creating low-cost solar-thermal desalination systems and a pathway to commercialization. The DOE Solar Energy Technologies Office, with input from a panel of industry experts, judged the submissions. In the second phase they will establish their teams, including commercial partners and a host facility, to realize their plans to build a fully operational test system.

“Water is one of our most critical resources, but so is American ingenuity,” said Deputy Secretary of Energy Mark W. Menezes. “These competitors are working to develop innovative solutions that will help give American families, farmers, and businesses greater access to clean water.”

Solar-thermal energy has the potential to cost-effectively purify water with very high salt content that can’t be treated with conventional desalination technologies. The quarterfinalists are developing a variety of innovative desalination methods to extract clean water from nontraditional water sources, such as water produced from extracting oil and gas, and brine from inland municipal desalination facilities.

During the competition, the quarterfinalists will have access to support and technical assistance through the American-Made Network, a group of National Labs, incubators, investors, and industry experts. The Network will help accelerate the development and commercialization of these systems by facilitating connections with venture capital firms, industry representatives, and others.

The teams being chosen today will advance to the third contest, where they will develop a detailed, feasible system design.

This prize is part of the Water Security Grand Challenge, a White House-initiated, DOE-led framework to advance transformational technology and innovation to meet the global need for safe, secure, and affordable water. The prize is also part of DOE’s American-Made Challenges, a series of prizes that incentivize the nation’s entrepreneurs to strengthen American leadership in energy innovation and domestic manufacturing.

DOE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy has partnered with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to administer the Solar Desalination Prize. Learn more about the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

WHITE HOUSE INITIATIVE ON HISTORICALLY BLACK COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES ED logo COVID-19 (“Coronavirus”) Information and Resources for Schools and School Personnel

Author: US Department of Edu.             10/9/2020              WHIHBCUs




ED logo

COVID-19 (“Coronavirus”) Information and

Resources for Schools and School Personnel

HBCU Announcements

National trust

The National Trust for Historic Preservation is now accepting applications for funding through the HBCU Cultural Heritage Stewardship Initiative.

The HBCU Cultural Heritage Stewardship Initiative is a central component of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund and is supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Ford Foundation, the JPB Foundation, the J.M. Kaplan Fund, and The Executive Leadership Council. This program intends to strengthen the stewardship capacity of HBCUs and ensure these vital institutions are equipped to preserve and maintain their deeply significant historic buildings, landscapes, and other assets.

HBCUs are invited to apply for funding to support the development of new Cultural Heritage Stewardship plans for their historic campuses, buildings, and sites. Through the Initiative, the National Trust seeks to partner with up to eight HBCUs to provide targeted assistance to increase their capacity for preserving and improving campus facilities.

Interested applicants are invited to learn more during the HBCU Cultural Heritage Stewardship Initiative Webinar on October 16, 1 p.m. (EST). Register online.

Learn more about how to apply to the HBCU Cultural Heritage Stewardship Initiative grant program, or contact

U.S. Department of Energy

Interest and Access: National Laboratories Fall Session  

OCT 27, 2020 | 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm EST

An opportunity for Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) and Minority Businesses to engage the DOE National Laboratories and learn about FY 2021 initiatives that will benefit each group.

idustry day

Career Vacancies


Special Career Announcement

Fish Biologist Positions Announced! Application Deadline October 13 or first 350 applications

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service announced dozens of Fish Biologist vacancies (GS-7/9/11) across the United States in Ecological Services Field Offices, Fish & Wildlife Conservation Offices, Fish Hatcheries, and one Regional Office. Qualification requirements are listed in the vacancy announcement.

Click here to view the vacancy announcements.

Student Opportunities

film school fridays

U.S. Fish and Wildlife

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month by Working Toward a More Diverse Future


Jailene’s fellowship is one of several offered through a joint partnership between FWS and Hispanic Access Foundation’s (HAF) MANO Project. That partnership is connecting talented college students and recent graduates to careers at FWS, and it’s helping to build the next generation of conservationists that’s more reflective of our ever-changing population.

“Engaging young people and diverse communities to explore careers with agencies like FWS is important to the long-term future of our nation’s refuges and other public lands,” says Michelle Neuenschwander, director of the MANO Project. “Our work is about the next generation. We need to create experiences and opportunities today in order to cultivate the passion and workforce for tomorrow.”

During our program, interns are introduced to a variety of real-world public education, interpretation, conservation, and rehabilitation activities. The activities take place through work assignments at FWS sites and through informal and formal training sessions by FWS employees. While working with FWS, participants also receive specialized training, mentoring and ongoing support from HAF to effectively carry out their assignments and to build or enhance skills in a manner consistent with local site priorities. Interns gain an understanding of the opportunities for careers in natural resources and build skills and experience required for success in these careers.

Internships and fellowships through the partnership have taken place  across the country at FWS sites such  as  San Luis National Wildlife Refuge Complex in California, John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum in Pennsylvania, Silvio O. Conte National Fish and  Wildlife Refuge in New  England and Makah National Fish Hatchery in Washington state. Interns and fellows also work at various regional offices and, as in the case of Jailene, at the national headquarters.

“I was fortunate enough to visit the National Wildlife Refuges [at] Occoquan Bay, Back Bay and Great Dismal Swamp while it was safe to travel,” Jailene says. “The beautiful natural resources, and stories of black and brown kids having meaningful experiences on refuges, inspired me to commit wholeheartedly to the work behind the scenes and work my way towards implementing the Urban Wildlife Conservation Program myself someday.”

Wildlife conservation extends beyond habitat protection and species recovery; connecting people with nature is also a critical component. Through this partnership, together FWS and HAF are connecting people to our public lands, offering unique opportunities to young people, strengthening its workforce and embracing the future.


Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program

Are you a rising leader interested in confronting the nation’s most pressing challenges through public service? Apply for the 2021 Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program. PMF is the Federal government’s flagship leadership development program for advanced degree candidates. The two-year fellowship offers full salary, benefits, and leadership training to develop a cadre of future government leaders. All academic disciplines are encouraged to apply. Don’t miss your shot to become a PMF!

The PMF Class of 2021 Application is NOW OPEN until 12:00pm (Eastern Time) October 14, 2020. Visit for more information.

The announcement can be found on USAJOBS ( by searching for “Presidential Management Fellows” or by clicking the following link: Eligible individuals can apply by going to the “How to apply” section of the announcement and following the instructions. NOTE: You do NOT need a account in order to apply for the PMF Program.

To learn more about eligibility and how to apply, please review the “Become a PMF” section on the PMF website at This section also provides a number of resources, including a “PMF Applicant Handbook,” which details the annual application process, explains eligibility requirements, and required documentation, and the “Assessment Preparation Guide,” which prepares applicants for the on-line assessment. These resources, along with our “Apply Brochure,” can be found below.

National and Federal Opportunities


U.S. Department of Education

You are invited: Invention Education Webinar

Register today and plan to join us October 27, 1:30-3:00 PM ET, as we hear from Inventor Hall of Fame Inductee Dr. Radia Perlman plus invention, innovation and entrepreneurship education content specialists and practitioners.  In collaboration with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office and The Lemelson Foundation, we are excited to feature these speakers and to share helpful resources with you.


American Association for the Advancement of Science

New Emerging Researchers National (ERN) Webinar

The AAAS Emerging Researchers National (ERN) Conference team has released their most recent webinar, Back to School and “Out” of School in a New Paradigm of Teaching, Learning, and Conducting Research for viewing on demand. The latest in a series of webinars features a trio of panelists from the education sector to discuss approaching the current school year given the current climate. Throughout the webinar, participants learned of a variety of resources for strategies, research, and funding.

Gregory Triplett of VCU opens to discuss open research and simulation opportunities. These topics get refined by Linda Akli of SURA as she presents on the resources available from XSEDE. Mary Ann Leung, co-founder of SHI, closes out our presentation a slew of additional resources and programs students can apply for.

The webinar can be viewed for free here. More information, including slides, are available on the event page. Alternative viewing options are available upon request. Previous entries in the series can be found on the ERN webinar listing. You can engage in the community via @ernconference on Twitter and on LinkedIn company page.

energy logo

U.S. Department of Energy

DOE Requests Responses to Bioeconomy Workforce/Career Development Request for Information

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) has released a bioeconomy workforce/career-development Request for Information (RFI). The RFI intends to identify existing bioenergy workforce development assets and gaps in the bioenergy industry and academia. BETO supports groundbreaking technologies to produce biofuels, bioproducts, and biopower (bioenergy) from non-food sources of biomass and waste resources.

One example of how BETO has been instrumental in supporting cutting-edge technology is through the groundbreaking collaboration between DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), LanzaTech, and Virgin Atlantic. This collaboration led to Virgin Atlantic’s ability  to fly the first commercial flight fueled by recycled waste gas from a steel mill. LanzaTech first converted the gas to ethanol and then, using technology developed by PNNL, upgraded the ethanol to fuel that has been approved for commercial aviation—an alcohol-to-jet synthetic paraffinic kerosene. You can read more here.

To better understand how to prepare a skilled and diverse future bioenergy workforce, BETO is reaching out to our academic and industry partners to aid in identifying existing bioenergy workforce successes within the bioenergy industry and academic learning environment, as well as gaps that impede skill development and/or recruiting qualified individuals.

The RFI can be found on the BETO website. Feel free to use the RFI Template Word document to respond to the RFI questions. Additional comments and recommendations are welcomed. Submit your response to no later than 5:00 p.m. Eastern, November 2, 2020.


U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Solicitation of Volunteers to Serve as Grant Proposal Reviewers

The NRC is soliciting volunteers to serve as grant proposal reviewers.  Proposal reviewers are needed for the following subprogram areas:  faculty development, scholarship, fellowship, and trade school & community college scholarship.  Each reviewer will be assigned 5 – 8 proposals to review and be expected to participate on a review panel teleconference.  Proposals will be evaluated and rated against specific review criteria outlined for each subprogram area.  All proposal reviewers must certify no conflicts of interest for the proposals they will evaluate.  This review process will begin in the next few weeks.  We ask that only serious and dedicated individuals volunteer to assist us, as we will be on a tight review schedule.

Please note, just because you submit a proposal for a particular program does not preclude you from reviewing proposals submitted from other institutions for the same program.  All reviewers must certify no conflicts of interest for the proposals they will evaluate.  If you are interested in serving on a panel as a reviewer, please respond to this message with the program you’d like to review for (i.e., faculty development, scholarship and fellowship, trade school & community college scholarship).  If you have a known conflict, please provide that information as well.

Feel free to forward this message to others that may be interested.  Please contact Nancy Hebron-Isreal (information below) with any questions.

Nancy Hebron-Isreal;; 301-415-6996

Program Manager, Sr. Grants Administrative Specialist 

Program Management, Policy Development and Analysis


Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Webcast

In case you missed the first webcast.  The information will be repeated.

The White House Initiative on the Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) in conjunction with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) invites you to attend the “Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program in the Midst of a Pandemic” webcast.  The repeated webcast will be held Thursday, October 29, 2020, 4:00pm – 5:00pm (EST).  Registration is requested.  To register, send email to:  Please include:

  • Name of University/College
  • Whether the university/college has participated in the VITA Program in the past (Yes or No)

The purpose of the webinar is to share valuable information to HBCUs that would like to provide free income preparation service to their students and community which it serves.  Although the VITA Program is mainly a vehicle used for students to receive free income tax preparations, the program also provides an opportunity for financial education and ensures that the university/college receives outreach messages from the IRS; such as updates to the CARES Act.

The IRS is keenly aware that due to COVID-19 the VITA Program will have to be delivered differentially than it has been in the past.  Whereas, in the past, the Program was delivered in a face-to-face format.  During the webcast, the IRS will share ideas on how to deliver the program via a non-contact, virtual model.  These models can be enacted even if students are not on campus.  The IRS’ goal is to maintain the safety those that volunteer in our sponsored programs while providing a valuable service.

The White House Initiative and IRS look forward to your presence on the webcast

U.S. Department of Energy Provides $65 Million for ‘Connected Communities’

    DOE Solar Energy Technologies Office    Published: 10/13/2020          DOE

U.S. Department of Energy - Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Solar Energy Technologies Office


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced up to $65 million through its Connected Communities funding opportunity announcement (FOA) to expand DOE’s network of grid-interactive efficient building communities nationwide.

“As our Nation’s energy system continues to undergo dramatic transformations, there is a growing need for solutions that integrate and optimize all of our energy resources on the grid to provide Americans with the most reliable and affordable electricity possible,” said Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette. “With today’s announcement, DOE will broaden its capability to evaluate and demonstrate the growing flexibility of one such solution—smart, grid-interactive, efficient buildings—to best serve the needs of building occupants and the grid while reducing energy consumption overall.”

America’s 125 million homes and commercial buildings currently use almost 40% of U.S. energy, 74% of its electricity, and account for the great majority of peak electricity demand. Connected communities can leverage the latest advancements in building science, like state-of-the-art sensors, controls, and analytics, to more flexibly manage and deploy grid-scale energy efficiency and distributed energy resources.

“The integration of emerging technologies and systems is essential to the success of efforts to maximize the effectiveness of advanced building technologies,” said Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Daniel R. Simmons. “Our Grid-Interactive Efficient Buildings Initiative helps the U.S. further modernize its power grid and thus improve reliability, integrate renewable power sources, improve environmental performance, and make electricity more affordable for America’s households and businesses.”

Integration is at the heart of the Connected Communities FOA, and the Building Technologies Office (BTO) within DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) is collaborating with EERE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office and Vehicle Technologies Office and DOE’s Office of Electricity and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to bring together critical technologies and programs. The FOA, first described in a Notice of Intent and later shaped by responses to a Request for Information, could increase by five-fold the number of EERE-supported testbeds like Reynolds Landing in Hoover, Alabama. As a recent report by Oak Ridge National Laboratory shows, Reynolds Landing uses 44% less energy than comparable all-electric communities and 34% less power demand during winter peak hours, leading to lower utility bills for families while in higher-functioning houses.

Teams of broad partners are necessary to undertake this innovative and ambitious endeavor. To learn more about this FOA and its teaming partner list and to submit a concept paper, please visit EERE Exchange. To see what DOE plans to learn about and demonstrate in these connected communities, click HERE.



Authors: Ronald Bethea and Will R. Shirley  Published: 9/11/2020   National Association of Blacks In Solar  T/A  Blacks In Solar






Tue Sep 29, 2020 1pm – 3pm Eastern Standard Time 


The current coronavirus crisis has destroyed millions of American jobs, including hundreds of thousands in clean energy. As Congress,  in the first week of July, started deliberating and debating economic stimulus support for the energy industry, a new analysis of unemployment data showed the biggest part of America’s energy economy – clean energy – lost another 27,000 jobs in May, bringing the total number of clean energy workers who have lost their jobs in the past three months to more than 620,500. It has exacerbated historic environmental injustices. And with all this, we need millions of construction jobs, skilled trades, and engineering workers to build a new American infrastructure and clean energy economy. These jobs will create pathways for young people and for older workers shifting to new professions, and for people from all backgrounds and all communities.

A recent press release by the Biden Campaign is titled, “THE BIDEN PLAN TO BUILD A MODERN, SUSTAINABLE INFRASTRUCTURE AND AN EQUITABLE CLEAN ENERGY FUTURE”. If Biden is elected in November, his administration will make a $2 trillion accelerated investment, with a plan to deploy those resources over his first term, setting us on an irreversible course to meet the ambitious climate progress that science demands, along with the following developments:

1. The cost of shifting the U.S. power grid to 100 percent renewable energy over the next 10 years is an estimated $4.5 trillion, according to a new Wood Mackenzie analysis.

2. Amazon Launches U.S $2.  Billion Climate Pledge Fund Amid Reputation Crisis

3. Microsoft’s New Environmental Sustainability Initiative and $1 billion Climate Innovation Fund, along with Sol Systems and Microsoft, Working Together on Portfolio of 500 megawatts of U.S. Solar Project, and Investments in Communities on the Front Lines of Climate Change.

4. Chicago Launches $200 million RFP to Power City Facilities by Renewable Energy

5. New York’s $701 Million Program for EV Charging, By the Numbers

6. Wells Fargo makes a $200 billion Sustainable Finance Commitment through 2030, with at least 50% going toward renewable energy and clean technology projects. Wells Fargo also provides $5 million in seed funding to create the Tribal Solar Accelerator Fund with the nonprofit, GRID Alternatives, to support solar projects in tribal communities.

7. Wells Fargo announces a renewable energy transaction that will power 400 Wells Fargo properties in Texas from a new utility-scale solar installation in the state.

8. With commitments of  160 cities, more than ten counties, and eight states across the U.S. have goals to power their communities with 100% clean, renewable energy in total. Over 100 million people now live in a community with an official 100% renewable electricity target.

9. Thirty-six years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court examined a toenail on this question—answering it mostly negatively.   In  1976 National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) vs Federal Commission 425, US 662 1976 (“FPC,” FERC’s predecessor) to issue a rule prohibiting utilities from discriminating against their employees based on race. Their proposed rule would have required the Commission to “(a) enumerate unlawful employment practices; (b) require regulates to establish a written program for equal employment opportunity, which would be filed with the Commission; and (c) provide for individual employees to file discrimination complaints directly with the Commission” (as summarized in Chief Justice Burger’s concurring opinion). Citing the Federal Power Act and Natural Gas Act, the NAACP argued that (a) the FPC’s substantive statutes declare the businesses of selling electricity and natural gas to be “affected with a public interest,” and (b) racial discrimination by utilities conflicts with the public interest.  The FPC therefore was both authorized and obligated to bar racial discrimination by its licensees.

The question becomes where is the Green Economic Development Plan for Black America? Many of our southern states are regulated markets, with no  public policy and legislation. The lack of Renewable Energy Standards in many of our southern states make many of the large-scale megawatt solar projects non bankable for solar companies. This was recently the case for Will R. Shirley, E.M.Sc. President/CEO Sundial Solar Power Developers, Inc. of Jackson, Mississippi, the only African American owned solar company in the state of Mississippi. In a recent letter to his solar farm clients, he communicated the following:

“Dear Sir: Sundial Solar Power Developers, Inc. (Sundial Solar), has, over the last 3 years, experienced serious setbacks, and roadblocks in getting projects like yours off the ground. In your case Sundial Solar has explored every way possible to make your project a bankable endeavor; however, your family and other families like yours are being shut out of a 25-year, generational economic opportunity. In our estimation, the main cause of these setbacks and roadblocks is the lack of Renewable Energy Standards in the State of Mississippi. As a result of Sundial Solar’s efforts to service Mississippi landowners like you, we can deliver anecdotal evidence that families like yours have been denied several hundreds of thousands of dollars based on unfair and immoral state policy that economically discriminates against Mississippi landowners”.

This is not just a Mississippi problem, but this is a national problem in regulated markets. This is not an issue for African American Solar design, installation, and workforce development companies but all companies doing business in the United States.

Looking at the data recently put out by the 2019 Solar Foundation Diversity, we have a little over 9,000 solar companies doing business in the United States. But we have been able to confirm only less than 20 African American Solar companies doing business in the United States.

The South, Southwest, East Coast, and major cities and urban markets across the United States where the large percentage of the African American population reside, makes it almost impossible to increase market share for African Solar Design, Installation, and Work Force Development companies to increase their market share.

When we take a look at the Solar Foundation’s 2019 U.S. Solar Industry Diversity Study, the diversity shortfall is not unique to the solar industry. The Government Accountability Office found that as of 2015, women represent only 22% of the technology workforce and African American workers represent only 7%, figures that remained virtually unchanged over a decade (See Below).

As we look at third-party recruiters which are independent recruiters contracted by solar companies to uncover, vet, and hire, the question is how many of the third-party recruiters are African American companies contracted to look for talent from our HBCUs.

When we also take a closer look at upstream solar firms that engage in manufacturing, sales and distribution activities, other solar firms provide finance, legal services, research, advocacy, and not-for-profit education activities. The African American presence in these areas is nonexistent, after 12 years of the solar industry being the fasted growing industry for job growth in United States.

 The Case for a National Organization that Supports Solar in our Neighborhoods

National statistics concerning black people in the solar industry are disappointing as we can see on the following charts (please click to enlarge.)



In the above chart we can see that Black solar worker demographics do not even compete with Latino demographics (please click to enlarge).


Our concern is that we need to prepare our people for full participation in the New Renewable Energy Economy Revolution. If we do not ORGANIZE NOW, our future in the renewable solar energy economy will continue to be relegated to the Consumer Class with low ownership positions and exceptionally low economic benefit for our schools, HBCUs, municipalities, counties, and businesses.

There are many more specific problems that the black owned solar companies face nationwide. These more specific problems can only be addressed and only be solved by a nationally structured, systematic 25-year plan to alleviate solar discrimination and injustices that are prevalent in the solar industry today.

The list of disparities, when it comes to national, state, and local solar policy development for the black community, is unacceptable going forward into the 21st century. Aside from the challenges listed above, below is a list of specific on-going problems that cannot and will not be addressed by the status quo.

  1. The list of the “solar uninformed” in the Black community includes: K-12 school administrators, Black business leaders (small and large), HBCU presidents, Black mayors, Black county supervisors and administrators, and non-profit leaders.
  2. No HBCU strategy exists that will produce new solar business owners, HBCU student solar associations, 25 years of electric utility savings, thereby creating a savings fund (or similar approach) that can be utilized to help address the priority financial issues of each HBCU.
  3. No concerted strategy that re-focuses Workforce Development resources in Black communities. There is no mechanism that associates workforce development dollars in Black communities to solar job training for young black men and women. Question – with no concerted strategy in the black community, how can black solar professionals be created, thrive, and fully participate in the world’s fastest growing industry?
  4. No “Solar-Based Economic Development” strategies exist that deliver effective, long-term solar policies for the Black community. Just as in the case of “Technology-Based Economic Development” that changed the process of how industries, governments, and communities used technology prosper, so can “Solar-Based Economic Development” change the process of how Black communities, governments, educational entities, and businesses can begin to develop strategies that will produce short and long-term economic benefits. If the status quo remains in place for the next 10 years, Black people in America will be totally shut out of the economic benefit, prosperity and affluence that is being realized by others in the solar industry. We as Black people need to use solar power as an economic development tool that will drive high paying jobs in the new green economy
  5.  No targeted job training exists in America that focuses on preparing young Black men and women for careers in the solar industry. As one can see, national solar workforce numbers reveal an unsustainable future. Black owned solar companies in America represent a disappointing percentage of the total amount of solar companies in business.  This percentage reflects badly on black participation in solar from an ownership position in the world’s fastest growing industry. This number also reflects badly on future generational participation in the industry. (National Association of Blacks in Solar Initial Organizing Document July 2020)
  6.  No “means of production” of solar equipment exists in the Black community. When the world is going solar, how is it that there is not one single solar panel manufacturing company, owned by a consortium of Black owners, that can produce full panels or sub-panel components
  7.  Black owned solar companies face a double whammy when it comes to supply chain issues – first, no Black means of production exists (mentioned above) and no purchasing coop/organization is in place that can negotiate pricing on large scale solar panel purchases for Black owned solar companies. Most economists recognize the power of group purchasing opportunities. If the few Black owned solar companies that exist today had an opportunity to buy solar panels at deep discounts via co-op purchasing agreements, great advances could be made in the supply chain that favorably addresses a growing black-owned solar company population in America.
  8.  No national solar consultancy exists to support black institutions in America in realizing the prospects of “Solar-Based Economic Development”. NABS will address this serious issue by establishing a process for evaluating social, political, economic environments and priorities in the development of an individualized long-term solar strategy for HBCUs, Black municipalities, Black county governments, the Black business community, and Black non-profits.


HBCU Five- Year Green Economic Development Sustainability Plan

 Ronald Bethea, President and Founder of Positive Change Purchasing Cooperative LLC. Our cooperative is presently serving as advocate, marketing and funding raising and research. Our organization, working with Lilia Abron, Ph. D, P.E., BCEE President PEER Consultants, has developed an HBCU Five-Year Green Economic Development Sustainability Plan.

This power point presentation is an action plan template drawn up by PEER to serve as a starting plan for colleges and universities interested in making their campuses more sustainable. Please understand the goals, actions, and measures within this sustainability plan are tentative and can be tailored specifically to meet the needs of college and universities after their input. Goals are as follows:

  • To provide a blueprint for economic self-reliance for the solar and renewal energy companies both large and small, along with increasing market share for African American Solar design, installation, and workforce development companies.
  • To address the economic effect of high energy cost for HBCUS.
  • To utilize Black American owned farmlands and HBCU campuses to develop capacity and initiatives for solar installation projects to bring down the numbers of unemployment, under employed young black men and women.
  • Educating the black community locally and nationally about the economic impacts of climate change and the need for environmental education in the black community through black talk radio programs such as “Solar Now and The Future with Its Economic Impact on Black America”.

The proposed National Association of Blacks in Solar shall be organized based on the premise that the Black Community, in every state of the union, is being left out of major solar policy decisions that concern the specific needs of the Black community. NABS will be organized to fill these policy gaps in national, state, and local solar policy development. These problems persist and will continue to persist unless there is a nationally based organizational structure created that can start the process of rectifying the problems listed above. Again, there exist NO Solar Policy Initiatives that support any of our black institutions in a sustainable, long-term basis – the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BLACKS IN SOLAR will begin the process of delivering effective solar planning, policy development and policy implementation for our people.

Charter members of National Association of Blacks in Solar:

Positive Change Purchasing Cooperative       w:


PEER Consultants, P.C.W:


Demand for Residential Solar Expected to Double by 2023

Author: Matthew Mwecure        Published: 2/24/2020                      SEIA

A recent report shows that the U.S. residential solar market reached record highs in the third quarter of 2019, with 713 MW of solar installed, according to the latest U.S. Solar Market Insight report from Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

The U.S. solar market added 2.6 GW of solar photovoltaics in the third quarter, growing the total U.S. solar capacity to 71.3 GW. The increase in residential installations helped the U.S. solar market grow 45% year-over-year and contributed to 15 states having their best quarter ever for residential solar.

States with smaller solar markets, such as Idaho, Wyoming, New Mexico and Iowa, all saw record residential growth due to continued price declines and improvements to the economic competitiveness of solar across the country. Active companies from around the market with current developments include Singlepoint Inc., First Solar Inc., SolarEdge Technologies Inc., Enphase Energy Inc. and Vivint Solar Inc.

“This positive report makes clear that American families are demanding energy choice and solar, and that our industry is ready to deliver,” says Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of SEIA.

“This is the kind of growth and investment we could see going forward if we make smart policy moves, like extending the solar Investment Tax Credit and stopping additional tariffs. Failure to make these policy moves will limit deployment potential and cost jobs,” she adds.

California continues to be the largest residential solar market, installing nearly 300 MW in the third quarter of 2019, breaking its own quarterly record.

Key Figures

  • In Q2 2019, the U.S. solar market installed 2.1 GWdc of solar PV, representing a 7% decline from Q2 2018.
  • U.S. utility PV has seen 11.2 GWdc of new projects announced in the first half of 2019, bringing the utility PV pipeline to a historic high of 37.9 GWdc.
  • Residential solar continues its rebound, growing 3% quarter-over-quarter and 8% year-over-year. Q2 2019 was the fourth consecutive quarter of more than 600 MWdc of installed residential capacity.
  • Non-residential PV saw 426 MWdc installed – a decline from Q1 – as policy shifts in states including California, Massachusetts and Minnesota continue to impact growth.
  • Wood Mackenzie forecasts 17% year-over-year growth in 2019, with 12.6 GWdc of installations expected. In total, more than 6 GW were added to the five-year forecast since last quarter to account for new utility-scale procurement.
  • Total installed U.S. PV capacity will more than double over the next five years, with annual installations reaching 17.6 GWdc in 2021 prior to the expiration of the federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for residential systems and a drop in the commercial tax credit to 10% for projects not yet under construction.

1. Introduction

In Q2 2019, the U.S. solar market installed 2.1 gigawatts direct current (GWdc) of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity, a 7% decrease year-over-year. After residential solar grew 8% in 2018, the sector has continued to stabilize in the first half of this year, with 8% year-over-year growth in Q2 following 7% year-over-year growth in Q1. Conversely, non-residential PV suffered both quarterly and annual declines due to policy transitions and persistent interconnection issues in key commercial markets. The quarter saw 1 GWdc of utility-scale installations – slightly lower than average – but with new project procurement growing the contracted pipeline to a record high of 37.9 GWdc. Across all market segments, solar PV accounted for 36% of all new electricity generating capacity additions in the first half of 2019.


Modest residential growth continues in Q2 2019

After growing 8 percent in 2018, the residential market continued apace over the first half of 2019, with installations trending 7% higher than in the same period last year. This level of growth suggests increased market maturity and a more sustainable growth profile. National installers hold a lower collective market share than in years past and are now operating alongside a mix of local and regional installers, resulting in increased competition. Mature markets continue to see modest to flat growth rates despite consistent volumes, owing to increased challenges in customer acquisition at higher penetration levels. The continued emergence of new markets has helped to sustain steady installation volumes on a national basis.


Non-residential PV enters a second consecutive year of annual decline

Unlike the residential market, a handful of state-specific regulatory cliffs and policy reforms that took effect in 2018 continued to impact non-residential installations in H1 2019. Major policy reforms continued to hamper development in the core non-residential markets of California, Massachusetts and Minnesota. In the case of California, installations were flat on both a year-over-year and quarter-over-quarter basis, which suggests that installation declines stemming from the transition to new time-of-use rates are abating. In Massachusetts, non-residential deployment numbers continue to be impacted by interconnection delays, despite a pipeline of projects sitting mechanically complete. This has resulted in market declines on both a year-over-year and quarter-over-quarter basis.

That being said, positive policy developments in New York, Maryland, Maine and New Jersey in H1 2019 will collectively allow the market to grow in the period 2020-2022 before it declines in 2023 in response to the step-down of the solar Investment Tax Credit under current federal law.

New utility procurement breaks records while 100% renewables targets and offsite corporate demand boost long-term outlook

Utility PV maintained the largest share of installed capacity in the U.S. solar market this quarter. A total of 1.1 GWdc of utility PV capacity came online in Q2 2019, representing 49% of quarterly capacity additions. With a record-high 8.7 GWdc of projects under construction, 2019 is on track to be a strong year for utility-scale installations. An additional 29 GW of contracted projects are scheduled to come online over the next several years. This pipeline positions 2020 to be the largest year on record for utility-scale installations, with 12.6 GWdc expected to come online.

After record-high procurement of 15 GWdc in 2018, procurement has surged to 11.2 GWdc in the first half of 2019, with 6.2 GWdc in Q2 alone. The contracted pipeline has ballooned to 37.9 GWdcthe highest it has ever been in the history of U.S. utility solar. Several utilities, including Duke Energy, NV Energy, Clean Power Alliance and East Bay Community Energy, have announced large solar procurements, and announcements from corporate offtakers such as Starbucks, Microsoft and Anheuser-Busch have also increased.

With the increased demand from corporate offtakers, offsite corporate procurement now ranks as the main driver of 17% of all new projects announced in 2019. As more companies commit to 100% renewable power, offsite corporate procurement is expected to drive more than 20% of new capacity additions from 2019 through 2024. The procurement needed to fulfill the many renewable-energy and zero-carbon commitments recently made by cities, states and utilities is just starting to occur, with significant additional procurement driven by renewable portfolio standards expected in the near to medium term. However, voluntary procurement of utility PV based on its economic competitiveness continues to be the primary driver of projects announced in 2019, accounting for 55% of total announcements. This procurement has been driven by the low cost of utility PV, with recently signed PPA prices ranging from $18 to $35/MWh.


2. Market Segment Outlooks

2.1. Residential PV

Key Figures

  • 628 MWdc installed in Q2 2019
  • Up 8% from Q2 2018
  • Up 3% from Q1 2019

Modest growth in the residential segment over the past several quarters has been led by emerging state markets. In Q2 2019, one-fourth of all residential installations came from state markets outside the top 10, representing the highest total in industry history. These emerging markets are helping to offset low to flat growth in many legacy state markets, which up until recently were the major drivers of residential segment growth. As these states continue to grow past early-adopter consumers, higher costs of customer acquisition will challenge the industry to innovate product offerings and continue to diversify geographically.

From 2019-2021, residential growth will range from 2% to 19% due to both emerging markets with strong resource fundamentals like Florida and Texas, and markets where recent policy developments have increased our near-term forecasts. Maryland’s recent renewable portfolio standard (RPS) increase, the removal of South Carolina’s net metering cap, and new incentive programs such as Illinois’ Adjustable Block Program will provide significant upside and growth to our residential forecasts over the next few years. Meanwhile, California’s new home solar mandate will also help to offset market penetration challenges beginning in 2020.

In the long term, the ITC step-down is expected to pull in demand in both legacy and emerging markets before expiring in 2022 for customer-owned systems. Modest growth resumes in 2023 and continues into 2024 based on economic fundamentals as the market adjusts to less attractive post-ITC market conditions. That said, long-term growth in a post-ITC world will be contingent on geographic diversification outside of legacy state markets, as well as technological and business-model innovation to improve product offerings in the solar-plus-storage space.


2.2. Non-residential PV

Key Figures

  • 426 MWdc installed in Q2 2019
  • Down 2% from Q1 2019
  • Down 16% from Q2 2018

Non-residential installation totals in Q2 2019 were the weakest since Q3 2016. California and Massachusetts continue to see declining volumes due to state-level policy reforms and interconnection delays that limit development opportunities. Overall, the non-residential PV market is on track for another down year as the segment acclimates to a reduced incentive environment across major state markets. However, this will be incrementally offset starting in 2020 as the next wave of states with robust community solar mandates – New York, Maryland, Illinois and New Jersey – experience growth.

Recent policy developments in the Northeast will ultimately spur growth in our long-term outlook. Significant revisions to the Value of Distributed Energy Resources (VDER) docket in New York have bolstered our long-term forecasts for both commercial and community solar. Meanwhile, Maryland and Maine have both passed more aggressive RPS policies, which are expected to boost lagging REC markets. Maine went even further to create a commercial solar tariff and community solar program.

Increasing solar-plus-storage viability will also begin to have an impact on non-residential demand as policymakers and business leaders increasingly consider energy storage in their decisions. New York’s recent development of the Bridge Incentive increases our long-term solar-plus-storage forecasts with further potential upside. By 2023, roughly 30% of total non-residential PV capacity will come from community solar, and 20% of all non-residential capacity is expected to have storage attached.


2.3. Utility PV

Key Figures

  • 1,023 MWdc installed in Q2 2019
  • Utility PV pipeline currently totals 37.9 GWdc

The U.S. utility solar forecast for 2019-2024 has grown by 6.7 GWdc since last quarter thanks to unprecedented levels of procurement. New project announcements are exceeding projects completed as developers and utilities are working to safe-harbor as much capacity as possible before the ITC steps down. We have also seen more utility solar in long-term resource plans and requests for proposals from utilities such as Tennessee Valley Authority, Appalachian Power, Dominion Energy and Hawaiian Electric.

Since last quarter, the 2019 forecast has decreased slightly to 8.1 GWdc. This decrease is due to a handful of large projects that have pushed out target commercial operation dates (CODs) to 2020. But following this year, the forecasts for 2020 and 2021 have been increased by 2.5 and 1.0 GWdc, respectively. While project spillover from 2019 has bolstered the 2020 forecast, the biggest cause of the forecast increase has been new project announcements. There was 6.2 GWdc of new projects announced in Q2 2019, including 2.8 GWdc specifically targeting 2020 COD and 2.3 GWdc targeting 2021 COD.

From 2022-2024, our utility PV forecast has increased by 4.0 GWdc. While a portion of this can be attributed to 2.0 GWdc of newly procured projects with 2022-2024 target CODs, we expect that utility demand for solar will continue to increase. The cost-competitiveness of utility PV has made it the primary resource for utilities seeking additional energy capacity, as well as those looking to meet more stringent RPS targets. This is in part due to utility PV becoming increasingly cost-competitive with wind. As the wind-focused federal Production Tax Credit steps down, solar begins to fall below the cost of wind on a levelized cost of energy basis in many traditional wind states. In states such as Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan and the Dakotas, solar competes with wind on a cost basis by the mid-2020s, while also providing a complementary production profile.

The low cost of utility PV has also increased demand from corporate offtakers – in the first half of 2019, 2.4 GW of utility-scale solar projects with corporate offtakers were announced. Currently, 3.7 GWdc of the projects expected to come online in 2020 have a corporate offtaker, representing 28% of the 2020 forecast. While a short-term increase in demand could be inflated by corporate offtakers securing low-priced power-purchase agreements before the ITC steps down, we believe offsite corporate demand will continue to grow across the U.S. as more corporate and industrial offtakers pledge to become carbon-neutral or powered by 100% renewables. Consequently, Wood Mackenzie expects that corporate demand will drive over 20% of utility solar development from 2019-2024.




3. National PV System Pricing

We employ a bottom-up modeling methodology to track and report national average PV system pricing for the major market segments. This methodology is based on tracked wholesale pricing of major solar components and data collected from interviews with major installers.


In Q2 2019, system pricing fell across all market segments. System pricing fell quarter-over-quarter by 0.7%, 1.1%, 2.8% and 2.5% in the residential, non-residential, utility fixed-tilt and utility single-axis tracking markets, respectively. Prices across all market segments are now at an all-time low: $2.87/Wdc, $1.45/Wdc, $0.90/Wdc and $1.01/Wdc for residential, non-residential, utility fixed-tilt and utility single-axis tracking systems, respectively. Year-over-year system pricing fell by 6.8%, 7.4%, 10.0% and 11.4% in the residential, non-residential, utility fixed-tilt and utility single-axis tracking markets, respectively.

4. Component Pricing

Starting in Q1 2019, the U.S. solar market insight report series expanded its coverage to include pricing information on mono wafers, mono cells and mono modules, in addition to their multi counterparts. In Q2 2019 global spot market pricing for all major components saw little change from the prior quarter except for pricing for polysilicon and mono cells. Polysilicon prices dropped by over 8% in Q2, a continuation of an 18-month-long trend. Mono cell prices also declined, indicating an end to the cell supply shortage. The increased production of mono cells drove up prices for mono wafers by about $0.01/W.

In the U.S., multi-silicon module prices declined slightly to $0.35/W in Q2 2019 from $0.36/W in Q1 2019. Mono PERC module prices increased by nearly three cents to $0.43/W, reflecting strong demand in the U.S. market.


About the Report

U.S. solar market insight® is a quarterly publication of Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables, Inc. d/b/a Greentech Media and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA)®. Each quarter, we collect granular data on the U.S. solar market from nearly 200 utilities, state agencies, installers and manufacturers. This data provides the backbone of this U.S. solar market insight® report, in which we identify and analyze trends in U.S. solar demand, manufacturing and pricing by state and market segment. We also use this analysis to look forward and forecast demand over the next five years. All forecasts are from Wood Mackenzie, Limited; SEIA does not predict future pricing, bid terms, costs, deployment or supply.

  • References, data, charts and analysis from this executive summary should be attributed to “Wood Mackenzie/SEIA U.S. solar market insight®.”
  • Media inquiries should be directed to Wood Mackenzie’s PR team ( and Morgan Lyons ( at SEIA.
  • All figures are sourced from Wood Mackenzie. For more detail on methodology and sources, click here.
  • Wood Mackenzie Power and Renewables (WM P&R) partners with Clean Power Research to acquire project-level datasets from participating utilities that utilize the PowerClerk product platform. For more information on Clean Power Research’s product offerings, visit

Our coverage in these reports includes 43 individual states and Washington, D.C. However, the national totals reported include all 50 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico. The U.S. solar market insight® is offered in two versions – the Executive Summary and the Full Report. The Executive Summary is free, and the Full Report is available individually each quarter or as part of an annual subscription. Detailed data and forecasts by state are available in the Full Report. To find out more, click here.


Note on U.S. solar market insight report title: WM P&R and SEIA have changed the naming convention for the U.S. solar market insight report series. Starting with the report released in June 2016 onward, the report title will reference the quarter in which the report is released, as opposed to the most recent quarter in which installation figures are tracked. The exception will be our year in review publication, which covers the preceding year’s installation volumes despite being released during the first quarter of the current year.

About the Authors

Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables | U.S. Research Team

Austin Perea, Senior Solar Analyst (lead author)
Colin Smith, Senior Solar Analyst
Michelle Davis, Senior Solar Analyst
Lindsay Cherry, Solar Analyst
Xiaojing Sun, Senior Solar Analyst

Solar Energy Industries Association | SEIA

Shawn Rumery, Director of Research
Aaron Holm, Data Engineer
Rachel Goldstein, Research Analyst
Justin Baca, Vice President of Markets & Research

Resource Type