Students Who Learn About Environment and Community Empowerment Awarded $500,000 in Lexus Eco Challenge

TORRANCE, Calif., / Feb. 25, 2014 – It’s a win, win situation! Communities become a better place, and students, teachers and schools have the chance to share $500,000 in scholarships and grants through the Lexus Eco Challenge.

This year, the $30,000 Grand Prize winners are the Pinelands Eco Scienteers from Little Egg Harbor, New Jersey, and the E.T. Electrical Team from Byron Center, Michigan.

The Lexus Eco Challenge is an educational program and contest that inspires and empowers young people to learn about the environment and take action to improve it. High school and middle school teams nationwide 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.

The Pineland Eco Scienteers from Pinelands Regional High School focused on reducing deforestation in third world countries. They developed a machine that presses locally found combustible materials into briquettes to use as an alternative to cutting trees for cooking fuel. The winning middle school, Byron Center West, earned money to send water filters to Haiti and the Philippines to help local villages create a more sustainable environment.

For their efforts, the students, teacher advisor and school each get a part of the $30,000 prize. Students share $20,000 in scholarships while their teacher receives a $3,000 grant and the school earns $7,000. Additionally, eight First Place winning teams will receive $15,000 each.

 2013 - 2014 Lexus Eco Challenge Winner - Pinelands Regional High School Pinelands Regional High School developed a press to make flammable briquettes as an alternative to deforestation.

2013 – 2014 Lexus Eco Challenge Winner – Pinelands Regional High School developed a press to make flammable briquettes as an alternative to deforestation. Image © Lexus

More than 1,500 students participated in the 2013-2014 Lexus Eco Challenge. Thirty-two middle and high school teams each received $10,000 for their programs in the Land/Water or Air/Climate challenges. For the final challenge, all 32 finalist teams were asked to reach beyond the local community and inspire environmental action around the world through innovative ideas that are communicated to a wide audience.

Over seven years, the Lexus Eco Challenge has awarded more than $4 million in scholarships. More than 26,000 middle and high school students have positively impacted their communities, learned about the environment and improved their teamwork skills.

The Lexus Eco Challenge also includes educational materials created and distributed by Scholastic, the global children’s publishing, education and media company, to encourage teachers to integrate creative lesson plans about the environment into 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.

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

Lexus will open the 2014-2015 Eco Challenge this fall. Students and teachers can participate in the “Land/Water” or “Air/Climate” challenges for a chance to win a portion of the $500,000 prize money.