American Marketer

Events / Causes

Lexus Eco Challenge spurs students to create environmental solutions

September 5, 2013


Toyota Corp.'s Lexus is encouraging students to devise creative solutions for environmental problems with the possibility of winning a share of $500,000 in grants and scholarships.

The Lexus Eco Challenge calls for students in the United States to develop strategies in response to land and water or air and climate issues. Through this initiative the brand is demonstrating its investment in the future of the environment and science by supporting young scientists.

"Through the Lexus Eco Challenge we inspire students to look at their world and find creative solutions to improve it," said Nancy Hubbell, prestige communications manager at Lexus, Torrance, CA.

"If we can encourage teens to improve the world around them now, it’s something they will embrace and act upon in the future, as well," she said.

The Lexus Eco Challenge was developed with Scholastic Inc. The challenge has attracted the participation of more than 25,000 students since its introduction while awarding more than $4 million in scholarships and grants.

All the elements

The Lexus Eco Challenge is open to teens across the U.S. in grades 6-12. Teams can enter challenges focused on land/water or air/climate.

Lexus Eco Challenge

Teams seeking to enter must follow four steps to be considered.

First, a teacher employed by a specific school selects 5-10 students. Next, the team selects a topic that impacts its community.

Possible land/water topics include landfills, waste management, recycling, forest destruction, endangered species and loss of biodiversity. Air/climate topics will be unveiled Oct. 11.

Submissions deadlines are Oct.7 for land/water topics and Nov. 11 for air/climate topics.

Lexus Eco Challenge

Then, the team implements a plan and reports the results. Entries are submitted via Power Point or an online tool.

Each plan takes approximately six weeks to complete. Lexus offers students a challenge plan to help structure their project.

The Lexus Eco Challenge Web site provides interested students and teachers with a FAQ sheet, tool kit and additional resources.

The winners from both challenges will face-off in a final challenge that asks teams to look beyond their immediate community to a more universal issue. Two grand prizes of $30,000 will be awarded to the final two teams.

Lexus Eco Challenge

Forty other teams will receive prizes ranging from $10,000-15,000.

Previous winners included a New York-based team that evaluated the spread of Lyme Disease and worked with the Center for Disease Control to improve awareness, a California-based team that identified the impact of illegal marijuana farming on the environment and a Kentucky-based, middle school team that started a campaign for students to use one towel each week for less impact on the environment.

Standards-based supplementary educational materials encourage teachers to integrate creative lesson plans into their classrooms to help teach students about the environment.

Propelled to learn

Lexus has shown a knack for organizing events that welcome and inspire large groups.

For instance, Lexus is promoting the 2014 IS vehicle with a collaboratively created, stop-motion Instagram film that draws on the perspectives of 212 fans to show the vehicle in a range of angles and tones.

Under the orchestration of a directorial team during Instagram’s #WorldwideInstameet, car enthusiasts and Intagram users from a variety of background blended their personalities in a film that colorfully animates the IS. By leveraging Instagram in this unifying fashion, Lexus will likely grab the attention of a younger demographic and potentially trigger more collaborative, stop-motion films (see story).

The Lexus Eco Challenge strives to bring students together for a life of learning.

"While certain projects have been very involved, others have taken a simple idea and shared it with a wide audience," Ms. Hubbell said.

"It’s a program many schools look forward to participating in each year," she said.

Final Take

Joe McCarthy, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New Yrok