Washington State University Tri‑Cities was named a winner in Phase One of the Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize by the U.S. Department of Energy. This first-of-its-kind competition aims to further climate and environmental justice during the transition to a net-zero-carbon economy by directly funding disadvantaged communities. As one of 18 winners, WSU Tri‑Cities was awarded $200,000 to implement its Empowering the Future Energy Workforce plan.
The Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize supports grassroots innovation, community-centric networks, and ground‑up solutions to accelerate climate and clean energy technology advancement alongside disadvantaged communities.
During Phase One, the WSU Tri‑Cities team was one of 266 to submit an impact plan detailing their experience in engaging and supporting disadvantaged communities.
Jillian Cadwell, adjunct professor of civil engineering at WSU Tri‑Cities and the team lead for the grant said, “The DOE prize will be a catalyst to develop new academic programs, research collaborations and entrepreneurial activities in the areas of clean energy and climate innovation including a research-based course with industry mentors and incubator integration aimed at engaging, retaining and empowering Hispanic/LatinX students.”
Cadwell spearheaded the grant proposal alongside Kathleen McAteer, vice chancellor of academic and student affairs; Sandra Haynes, chancellor; Paul Carlisle, adjunct professor entrepreneur in residence; and Raul Contreras and Martin Valdez Torres from the Tri‑Cities Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Institutional and industry partners that will collaborate on this project include the WSU/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s Advanced Grid Institute and Energy Northwest.
In addition to the cash prize, WSU Tri‑Cities will also receive in-kind mentorship and other support services to help implement the proposed programs and related activities to further meet the community’s unique needs. The grant will also help establish the Institute for Northwest Energy Futures, a new applied-research center to help address the increasing demand for resilient, safe and affordable energy systems, including low‑carbon electricity and transportation fuels.
Phase Two of the Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize is anticipated to close in April 2023 when up to six teams will receive awards from a prize pool of $1.5 million. To learn more about WSU Tri‑Cities’ winning concept, and to follow its progress visit the Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize website.