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EPA's P3

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EPA's P3: People, Prosperity, and the Planet




EPA’s P3 – People, Prosperity, and the Planet – is a research grant competition for student teams to propose and develop sustainable solutions to current and future problems. Eligible research areas include: water, energy, agriculture, built environment, materials, chemicals, cookstoves, and green infrastructure.

The program, which was found in 2004, consists of two phases. In the first phase, interdisciplinary student teams are awarded $15,000 to develop ideas. The ideas are then evaluated at the National Sustainable Design Exposition in Washington, DC. If judged to be of high quality, student teams are honored with a P3 award and a grant of $90,000 to commercialize the idea.



The overall purpose of EPA’s P3 program is “to create innovative green technologies designed to advance economic growth while reducing environmental impact and benefit people, prosperity, and the planet” (Facebook, P3). The P3 program fills this overall purpose by:

(1)   “Support[ing] innovative research on projects or designs, and

(2)   Develop[ing] interdisciplinary teams of students that want to improve the quality of life for people, promote prosperity by developing local economies, and protect the planet by conserving resources and minimizing pollution…” (EPA)


Distinct Differences from Other Offerings

EPA’s P3 program’s uniqueness lies in its two-phase design. Not only does the grant fund student teams to develop ideas, it also provides money to commercialize the idea.

 In addition, according to EPA, “the P3 program is unique in that the teams themselves provide both the scientific or technical question (for an environmental problem) and they propose the hypothesis, or design, to address it.”  

The student teams get the opportunity to visit the National Sustainable Design Exposition in Washington, DC, where they can network with colleagues and peers from other institutions and meet potential employers. They can also plug into the P3 Alumni Network (


Impact Achieved for Students and Campus

EPA’s P3 program has been in existence since 2004. Since 2004, the program seem to have had substantial impact and on multiple campuses. The 2013/2014 program winners, their campuses and project titles can be found at Past winners are listed at  


Steps Required to Bring Resources to Campus

Eligibility Criteria: Only institutions of higher education in the United States are eligible to apply for the grant, to support teams of undergraduate and graduate students interested in proposing, developing, and implementing sustainable designs. Universities are allowed to collaborate with others outside the US though. Community colleges are eligible to apply.  Multiple members of the institutions can apply, however, the projects cannot be inter-dependent.  

Applicants (both student members and faculty advisors) MUST be citizens of United States or its territories or be lawfully admitted to the United States. Students must also be enrolled in the college they are representing in the competition.

If you are a student or student team interested in applying to the program, you will need to find a faculty member to submit the grant application for you.

The following steps can be taken if you can interest a faculty member in applying to EPA’s P3 program:

1.      Read the Request for Application (RFA) completely; the RFA is available at (place the current year for “YYYY”)

2.      Highlight sections/phrases that are critical for success.

3.      Draft your proposal

a.       See 5.A.2 of the RFA for criteria External Evaluators will use to judge the technical merit of your project;

b.      See 5.A.3 of the RFA for criteria EPA staff will use to review the programmatic merit of your proposal;

c.       Make sure your team and its work is clearly identified along with a roadmap for implementation of the project in the proposal;

d.      Make sure your projects connects well with funding agencies’ mission and areas of interest.

e.       Identify both immediate (for e.g. reports) and potential (why we do care for this project?) outcomes in the proposal

4.      Submit your application (along with other components listed on the RFA) on

More details about the process can be found at (see under How to Apply)


Contact Information

Interested folks can contact the P3 program personal:

Cynthia Nolt-Helms
Office of Research and Development
Washington, DC
Phone: 703-347-8012


Gregory Lank
Office of Research and Development
Washington, D.C.
Phone: 703-347-8128

Alternatively, you can contact personal through the EPA website at: or in the PowerPoint on “How to Apply” tab.

Find EPA’s P3 on Facebook at