MN350’s Campaign for Electric School Buses

The opportunity to transition diesel school buses in Minnesota to clean, zero-emission school buses is right now! With the recent announcement of $1 billion annually in funding from the EPA beginning in Spring 2022, schools will be able to apply for help to make zero-emission school buses a reality in our communities.


If you’re on this page because you’re a school employee or contractor interested in applying for the EPA loans, check out our Resources for Electric School Bus Applications. Our team is happy to meet with you to connect you with any resources you may need. 


Questions on anything? Don’t see the information you need on this webpage? Email — We’re more than happy to help!


About MN350:


MN350 is part of the Coalition for Clean Transportation, a team of Minnesota-based clean energy, environmental, and social justice advocacy groups working on transportation improvement. As part of this coalition, MN350 wants to support schools in the transition from dirty diesel buses to zero-emission school buses as part of a larger goal to transition all vehicles large and small to zero emissions. That’s why we created this page as a resource. We want to support schools, contractors, tribes, and communities interested in electrifying their school bus fleets.


As part of our advocacy, our team approached Governor Walz, the MPCA, and MNDOT to discuss how to make it easier for schools to apply and receive grants, but there’s little political will right now in Minnesota to fully support the school bus application process, so we wanted to focus instead on connecting: 


1) people that want to see their school districts take advantage of this funding opportunity and

2) schools to resources that will help them to apply and receive the available grants.


If you have any questions or want to connect with others in your school district on electric buses or need advice on how to approach your school board, please reach out to our team at this email:


Information For Electric School Bus Supporters:


Why Transition to Electric Buses? Key Facts:


Electric School Bus and Health:

  • Transitioning to clean electric buses reduces harmful greenhouse gas emissions1, improves children’s health2, and positively impacts academic performance.3
  • Diesel exposure on school buses lowers academic scores 3 and increases school absenteeism.4
  • Students on school buses are exposed to 5 to 15 times the levels of particle pollution than at nearby monitoring sites5 and up to 4 times the levels of a nearby car.


Economic Benefits:

  • Electric vehicle manufacturing provides more than 1,000 jobs in Minnesota, most of which are seen at the New Flyer (St. Cloud, MN) and Zeus Electric Chassis (White Bear Lake, MN) facilities. Most of the vehicles produced in Minnesota are shipped to other states with more ambitious climate goals.
  • Zeus Electric Chassis uses many Minnesota-based parts suppliers to build its electric vehicles, including electric school buses being developed. These parts suppliers are local and support communities in our state.
  • Lion Electric, one of the biggest manufacturers of electric school buses on the continent, is creating a new facility in neighboring Iowa, which will employ 750 people.
  • Decreased reliance on oil and fluctuating commodity prices for schools. There have already been issues with bus driver shortages to increase transportation costs. Taking diesel fuel costs out of the budget is a win for schools.
  • Some schools have already invested in solar panels to power their buildings. Pairing solar power with electric buses is a win for schools that could charge buses with local solar energy.
  • The total cost of ownership (TCO) of an electric school bus is only 10% higher over the buses 12-year lifespan, so affordability is less of a concern.10


Other Interesting Facts:

  • Replacing all of America’s school buses with electric buses could avoid an average of 5.3 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year which – the equivalent of taking about a million cars off the road.1
  • Several states and cities across the country, including Minneapolis, have targets to 100% electrify their school bus fleets by 2040.9
  • The Biden-Harris Administration has a goal to ensure all new school buses are US-made and 100% emission-free by 203013.
  • The $1 trillion bipartisan federal infrastructure bill includes $7.5 billion in funding to electrify school and transit bus fleets, including $2.5 billion specifically allocated to electric school buses15.
  • School bus manufacturers have resources to help schools plan for bus fleet electrification and apply for electric school bus grants16.


How Do I Contact My School?


For those looking for a template letter to contact their school board, superintendent, and transportation manager, here’s a link to a template letter.


Information For Schools:


As our advocacy team has spoken with schools, school boards, and others about this funding opportunity for zero-emission buses, we’ve received a few responses that show there are misconceptions about the new EPA program. We want to address these concerns so that schools and contractors don’t have believe that this funding is out of reach for their community.


Common Misconceptions:


  • This is NEW funding, not Volkswagen money connected with the MPCA.  
  • There are no environmental justice requirements to receive this money. Funds are distributed via a lottery system. Minnesota benefits if as many schools as possible apply. 
  • Buses and chargers are fully paid for by the federal government.
  • Even if your district gets buses through a contractor, you can still apply. Two-thirds of buses in Minnesota are owned by contractors, but all these buses are eligible. The school needs to play a part in the process however. More details on the application process are in the EPA’s website.


Now that we’ve talked about misconceptions, it’s important to note a few guidelines from the EPA on the program (based on EPA Webinar Info from 3/23/2022):


  1. This funding differs from past funding opportunities and doesn’t have the same requirements as previously announced funding from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). This new funding is available to all schools but funding grants will first be prioritized for an EPA-generated list of schools that serve:


-high-need school districts

-tribal schools

-rural and low-income areas


  1. Interested schools should know that qualified applicants aren’t limited to schools themselves. Eligible applicants include:


-State and local governmental entities responsible for: 1) providing bus service to 1 or more public school systems; or 2) the purchase of school buses

-Indian Tribes, Tribal Organizations, or tribally controlled schools that are responsible for: 1) providing school bus service to 1 or more Bureau of Indian Affars-funded schools; or 2) the purchase of school buses

-Nonprofit School Transportation Associations

-Eligible contractors


  1. The funding comes in the form of a rebate. Applying schools are entered into a lottery once the application period is closed. Each fiscal year (2022-2026), the program will offer $500,000 for zero-emission buses only and another $500,000 for clean school buses and zero-emission buses. The total of each State’s grant awards each fiscal year cannot exceed 10 percent of the total amount awarded each fiscal year.


Electric School Bus Pilots in MN


In Lakeville, MN, Schmitty & Sons is the first Minnesota bus company to invest in an all-electric bus and has been successfully transporting Lakeville ISD 194 students in their zero-emission bus since 20177. In addition, the MPCA has awarded 5 school districts $2.1 million in grants to purchase 8 electric school buses.11 As part of the Volkswagen Settlement, applications for an additional $4.7 million in MPCA school bus replacement grants will be available12. Note that while the MPCA money is available to only some schools, the new funding is available to all schools. Another important takeaway is that electric school buses are already being used in Minnesota, so we can build on their knowledge and best practices to successfully transition other schools to electric school buses.


How to Apply for EPA Funds:


To learn more about the EPA program, you can visit 


The EPA Clean School Bus website offers information on the program and how to apply. The application window hasn’t been officially announced, but the EPA has tentatively said it will accept applications starting in May 2022 for a 3-month period. To learn more about requirements and what’s needed to apply for these grants, you can view past webinars or register for upcoming sessions that detail the program. Bookmark this page to keep up with the latest news on the program and sign up for updates from the EPA at this website.


We want to ensure that your school is prepared to apply for the grant money and that we can support schools across the state, so here’s a summary of the initial recommended steps prior to applying for the EPA grants and how to share your district’s info to help us assist other schools in this process: 


  • Ensure your school district has applied for federal unique identity number at which is necessary to receive federal rebates and grants.
  • Complete the EPA school bus fleet inventory spreadsheet at 
  • In order to support schools across Minnesota, MN350 is collecting data on school bus inventories. Once completed, please send your inventory spreadsheet to Madi Johnson at  
  • Set up a meeting with the district’s electric utility to discuss charging infrastructure and potential partnership to use vehicle to grid (V2G) to sell electric school bus power back to the grid during peak energy use hours.


Remember that the more Minnesota schools that apply, the more likely that Minnesota will be granted funds!