Lexus Marks Back-to-School Season with Launch of New Environmental Education Program

September 12, 2007

September 12, 2007 – Torrance, CA - Teachers and students looking for a new challenge have a significant opportunity available to them. Today, Lexus announced the launch of the Lexus Environmental Challenge, a program designed to educate and empower students to take action to improve the environment. This all-new program encourages middle and high school students nationwide to develop and implement environmental programs that positively impact their communities. More than $1 million in scholarships and grants will be awarded to students, teachers and schools.

Lexus, the luxury automaker, has joined with Scholastic, the global children's publishing, education and media company, to create the program. The Lexus Environmental Challenge has two distinct elements: standards-based supplementary educational materials and a contest to reward environmental action. The educational materials encourage teachers to integrate creative lesson plans into their classrooms to help teach students about the environment. The contest helps young people apply what they've learned in class through the program and empowers them to make improvements in their community by participating in any of the four environmental team challenges.

"This is an opportunity to help students see for themselves what needs to be done to improve the environment and to inspire them to take action," said Jim Farley, Lexus group vice president and general manager. "If small steps are taken around the country, the collective impact could be amazing. We're excited about tapping into the creativity of young people to see what they will make of this challenge."

The Challenges and Rewards
The Lexus Environmental Challenge launched on Sept. 10, 2007 and concludes with the announcement of the finalist and grand-prize-winning teams on Earth Day, April 22, 2008. Middle and high school teams, comprised of 5-10 students and one teacher advisor, are invited to participate in four initial challenges, each addressing a different environmental element – land, water, air and climate.

For each of the challenges, teams will define an environmental issue that is important to them, develop an action plan to address the issue, implement the plan, and report on the results. In addition to submitting their entry online via a specially designed template, the teams will also be encouraged to provide visual documentation, including digital photos, videos, Web pages and PowerPoint presentations. Teams are invited to participate in as many of the four challenges as they choose. Submission deadlines are: Challenge #1 (Land) – Oct. 5, 2007; Challenge #2 (Water) - Nov. 5, 2007; Challenge #3 (Air) – Dec. 5, 2007; and Challenge #4 (Climate) – Jan. 7, 2008.

Each of the four challenges will have 16 winning teams – eight middle school and eight high school teams. The winning teams, to be announced approximately one month after the submission deadlines, will each receive a total of $3,000 in scholarships and grants. In addition, the winning action plans will be featured on a special Web page to inspire other students to take action in their communities.

In mid-February, the 64 winners of the first four challenges will be invited to participate in the Final Challenge, where teams will develop an environmental program with the potential to impact the world in a dramatic way. The specific topic for the Final Challenge will be announced online in February 2008. Teams will submit their plans online in the form of PowerPoint presentations. From the Final Challenge entries, 14 finalist teams and two grand-prize-winning teams will be selected. Each of the 14 finalist teams will receive a total of $50,000 in grants and scholarships, and the two grand-prize-winning teams will each receive $75,000. The money will be shared by the students, teacher advisor and school.

Judging Criteria
All entries for the initial four challenges will be judged on a variety of criteria, including the overall action plan and team effort, the quality of writing, and supporting materials. A select panel of judges will consider questions such as: does the action plan show the team's clear understanding of the environmental issue; does the action plan clearly describe the results; does the action plan communicate a persuasive argument; and does the action plan communicate team effort?

Full program information including rules and entry details can be viewed at beginning in September.

Specially Designed Standards-Based Program
The Lexus Environmental Challenge educational materials developed with Scholastic are designed to align with national teaching standards for science, social studies, civics and language arts.

In addition to providing teachers with the information necessary to participate in the challenges, the Web site ( also has extensive tools for them to use in their classrooms. For each challenge, the Web site has lesson plans and teacher instructions including questions to help guide a discussion about the current challenge topic, facts about the topic, and guidelines for a specific classroom project.

For example, for the first challenge topic, "Protecting the Land," students learn how healthy soil helps create a healthy environment. The class-wide project suggests students present a persuasive argument about the cause-and-effect cycle of soil health. Similarly, for the fourth challenge topic regarding the climate, students study global warming and the different perspectives surrounding this topic, which are currently in the news. The class-wide project suggests students conduct a short survey to discover what their community knows about global warming and what steps they are willing to take to reduce the production of greenhouse gases.

Lexus' Environmental Efforts
Lexus has been a leader in the hybrid automotive world since the 2004 debut of the
RX 400h, the world's first luxury-hybrid vehicle that Lexus estimates saves 300-350 gallons of gasoline per year compared to comparable luxury SUVs. The debut of the GS 450h, the first-ever luxury hybrid sedan, and the launch of the LS 600h L, the hybrid version of the brand's flagship sedan, illustrate Lexus' level of innovation and distinctiveness unique to the industry.

As the luxury division of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., Lexus and its parent company are dedicated to environmentally sustainable transportation. In addition to the company's commitment to hybrid technology and to the research and development of other advanced and alternative-fuel vehicle technologies, Toyota and Lexus' environmental commitment extends beyond its automotive products to its manufacturing sites, processing facilities and even to its environmental award-winning office buildings.

The Lexus Environmental Challenge is part of The Lexus Pursuit of Potential, a philanthropic initiative that generates $3 million in donations each year for organizations that help build, shape and improve children's lives.

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