Colorado launches $65M electric school bus grant program

Media Contacts
Alexandra Simon

Former Public Health Advocate, CoPIRG Foundation

New buses will benefit kids’ health and air quality

DENVER – Colorado is rolling out a new statewide grant program today that will provide funding to school districts to purchase new electric school buses in an effort to accelerate the adoption of electric buses across the state. The program is funded through last year’s bill SB22-193, which allocated a monumental $65M for the purchase of new electric school buses as well as charging infrastructure and associated electrical upgrades.

By eliminating internal combustion engines and tailpipes, electric school buses do not emit harmful air pollution and produce much less carbon emissions, reducing exposure by children and drivers to toxic fumes while helping improve air quality. 

The program will offer school districts up to $375,000 for each type C-D school bus, $275,000 for each type A-B bus, and $10,000 for non-bus student transportation (like minivans). School districts can also receive grants ranging from $3,000 – $72,000 to cover charging infrastructure for a single or dual port charging station. 

Applications will be prioritized based on the number of students living in disproportionately impacted communities, schools located in nonattainment areas, and schools that have a percentage of students receiving free or reduced lunch. Districts that receive funding will be required to retire or convert a minimum of 20% of the vehicles requested, per application, ideally prioritizing pre-2009 diesel buses without modern pollution controls.  

The health benefits for vulnerable children riding the bus, bus drivers, and everyone experiencing the associated ozone pollution caused by the burning of fossil fuels have earned electric school buses attention both locally and nationally. Advocates for the conversion of diesel buses to electric include Colorado-based organizations like Mountain Mamas, Green Latinos, SWEEP, CLEER,  and CoPIRG as well as Vice President Kamala Harris in a recent visit to Colorado

Electric school buses can also save districts money over the long term through lower maintenance and fueling costs – an analysis of the fuel costs for the electric school bus in Kremmling, Colorado found it was three times cheaper to fuel than the diesel version. 

Applications for school districts open today, March 29th, and close on June 30, 2023 and districts can learn more on the CDPHE Electric School Bus website or Electric School Bus grant program guide

The following groups issued statements on the program rollout: 

  • Alex Simon, Public Health Advocate, CoPIRG (Colorado Public Interest Research Group): “By eliminating toxic diesel emissions, electric school buses provide a safer alternative for transporting our children while also reducing ozone pollution. This is an exciting opportunity for Colorado to make significant progress in transitioning our school bus fleet to 100% electric, vastly improving our air quality and associated public health impacts.” 
  • Sara Kuntzler, Colorado Program Manager, Mountain Mamas: “Approximately 300,000 children ride the bus to school every day in Colorado and almost all of those buses are diesel-fueled. Because the air on diesel buses is up to 10 times more polluted than ambient air, we’re putting those kids at risk. What’s more, diesel pollution can harm not just the children on the bus but also those playing on the playground next to idling buses and the community they drive through. Colorado moms want more clean, electric school buses to protect our kids.” 
  • Nissa Erickson, Federal Funding Coordinator for the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP): “Thanks to this program, kids all across Colorado will be able to get on board a clean, efficient, electric school bus. That will mean cleaner air for kids to breathe, a safer climate for Colorado, and meaningful budget savings for school districts, so they can spend more on teaching and less on transportation.”
  • Mary Harlan, Transportation Program Associate, CLEER: “The inside of diesel school buses poses as much threat to children’s health and well-being as the outside. According to an original study published in the Journal of Health Economics (September 2011), diesel air pollutants not only affect ambient air, but are found to be ten times higher on the interior of the bus in its cabin. Illnesses related to air quality such as asthma and bronchitis were significantly lower when diesel particulate matter was not present on the interior of the school bus. We strive for clean air outside; we should expect clean air on the inside of our buses.”  
  • Juan Roberto Madrid, Clean Transportation and Energy Policy Advocate, GreenLatinos: “This program is a step in the right direction to improving air quality for black, brown, and indigenous children living in disproportionately impacted communities that currently suffer the greatest health impacts from severely degraded air quality in the Denver Metro area and across Colorado.”


CoPIRG (Colorado Public Interest Research Group)  – through research, public education and outreach, we serve as counterweights to the influence of powerful special interests that threaten our health, safety or well-being. 

Mountain Mamas protect our air, water, climate and public lands for future generations. Learn more at 

The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) is a public interest organization promoting greater energy efficiency and clean transportation in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. 

Clean Energy Economy for the Region (CLEER) is a Carbondale, CO-based organization that works regionally in Western Colorado to accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy, increase energy independence, and reduce our contribution to climate change.

GreenLatinos is an active comunidad of Latino/a/x leaders, emboldened by the power and wisdom of our culture,  united to demand equity and dismantle racism, resourced to win our environmental, conservation, and climate justice battles, and driven to secure our political, economic, cultural, and environmental liberation.