Get Your Green Company Into the Classroom: The Lexus Eco Challenge

How can your company get involved in promoting sustainability for the next generation? Lexus seems to have gotten it right with its “Lexus Eco Challenge.” While Lexus has established itself as the leading luxury green automotive line, it is also a leader in developing a stellar environmental educational program for students in the K-12 system.

So how does the Lexus Eco Challenge work and what are the four main ingredients to build your own corporate sustainability education program?

Now in its fourth year, the Lexus Eco Challenge has enlisted the participation of 15,000 middle and high school students nationwide to  implement real-world solutions for sustainability. “The idea was to give kids the tools and the inspiration to help change the world…and they have.  It’s amazing how this program helps stir up passion and foster teamwork among the students,” says Nancy Hubbell, of the Lexus Communications team.

Based on the Lexus experience, I have identified four main ingredients to develop your own corporate green education program:

1- Team up with an established educational channel to maximize program exposure, facilitate teacher buy-in, and take advantage of the channel’s core competency in pedagogy.  Lexus partnered with Scholastic to develop the Lexus Eco Challenge. On their joint website, teachers and students find detailed resources that are tailored towards enhancing conventional classroom content and learning standards.

2- Create a challenge with a purpose and local applicability. In the Lexus Eco Challenge, student teams design and implement their own action plan to address a specific environmental issue that they care about in their community. A teacher of a previous winning team, Bebi Davis, say, “Students perform at their best when they are motivated by a sense of purpose. I am inspired by the diligent work of my students and their drive to make a positive difference in their community and the world.”

3- Establish a platform for exposure. In addition to the program’s official site, the Lexus Eco Challenge has a blog component where students and teachers can report their experiences.

4-Reward with a prize that inspires into the future. Lexus plans to award $10,000 to 16 winning teams this year– eight middle school and eight high school teams.  The prize of $10,000 will be awarded in the form of scholarships and grants to be shared each team to further their educational development in sustainability and environmental stewardship.

Creating a worthwhile corporate program for eco-education is not only a solid investment in philanthropy, it is also a way to ensure that the same values that motivate your green company are sustained into the future. Lexus has created a stellar model for eco-education and I look forward to hearing about further corporate endeavors in this direction.

Shannon Arvizu, Ph.D., is a clean-tech educator, researcher, and consultant. Find out more at

Shannon Arvizu, Ph.D., is a clean tech educator and cutting-edge consultant for the auto industry. You can follow her test drives in the cars of the future at

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