The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) received funding to launch MassCleanDiesel, the nation’s first fully funded statewide program to install pollution controls (a preferred pollution reduction option at the time) on every eligible diesel-powered school bus operating in the state. But with more than 2,000 eligible buses, more than 100 different school bus owners, and several equipment vendors, designing, implementing, and sustaining the program was a highly complex task. MassDEP hired ERG to provide outreach, communications, information technology, and grant administration support for all project phases.
Before the official program launch, ERG worked with MassDEP to develop a “process flow” for administering funds. We also prepared an outreach and communications plan, engaged with key stakeholders, developed program eligibility criteria and legally binding contract terms, coded the program’s public facing website, prepared promotional materials, and developed a novel web-based application that MassDEP, school bus owners, and equipment vendors used to facilitate the bus upgrade and payment process.
We were then ready to start! ERG helped organize and publicize a program launch event, where the Governor of Massachusetts touted the program’s air quality benefits and encouraged all school bus owners to participate. From there, ERG’s grant administrators stepped in to promote the program to school bus owners, staff a telephone and e-mail help line to answer questions, monitor the status of agreements and equipment upgrades with more than 120 school bus owners, and identify and troubleshoot unforeseen problems. By the end of the program, more than 2,000 diesel-powered school buses were upgraded with air pollution controls (“retrofits”)—at no cost to bus owners. MassDEP noted that the 2-year program resulted in “cleaner rides for kids and healthier air for everyone.”