Earlier this week Toyota closed the 2011 CIAA (Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association) Tournament by announcing the winner of the first-ever Toyota Green Initiative Contest. Toyota, collaborated with the 2011 CIAA Tournament as its official automotive partner in order to help raise awareness regarding environmental issues through a series of events at the tournament; and the award is, in fact, part of a larger campaign by the company to create a stewardship platform designed to empower Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) students and alumni to adopt a sustainable lifestyle.
To acknowledge environmental stewards on the CIAA campuses, at the 2011 CIAA Toyota Men's Final Game, four finalists of the Toyota Green Initiative Contest were presented, and Stephen Graddick, IV, was announced as the Grand Prize winner. Graddick, a freshman from Livingstone College, won a one-year lease of a 2011 Toyota Prius Hybrid and a Tree Park for his campus. To enter the contest CIAA students were required to submit a plan and carry out their own Grassroots Green Campus project that restored, improved or sustained the environment at their local campus or campus' community. Graddick beat out over 200 entrants with his innovative environmental plan of hosting a Green Awareness Week to improve sustainability at Livingstone College. "The Toyota Green Initiative is a powerful social awareness campaign that provides our future leaders with the resources and tools to create a valuable environmental impact," said Jim Colon, vice president of Toyota product communications for Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. "The rich partnership with CIAA is representative of shared values, and has afforded Toyota the opportunity to continue the conversation on sustainable living."
At the 2011 CIAA Toyota Fan Experience over 200,000 attendees visited the interactive Toyota Green Initiative booth that featured experiences centered around an 18-foot tree installation built of sustainable materials. Patrons also participated in two Roundtable Discussions regarding ways in which to live a greener future led by Toyota Green Initiative Coalition Members: Lance Gross, HBCU college graduate and actor on Tyler Perry's hit TBS sitcom, House of Payne; and environmental experts Earthseed, LLC, Pandora Thomas and Zakiya Harris. The Coalition Members shared with attendees the oral history of African American green pioneers, simple tips to go green and their involvement in the Toyota Green Initiative.
"The response from the students has been fantastic!" explains Colon. "Over the past several months, we visited each of the 13 CIAA schools and held meaningful discussion series with students on the importance of sustainable living." He continues, "The students came out in the hundreds to learn about the ways they could go green in their own homes, communities and college campuses. We also held the first-ever Toyota Green Initiative Contest, which asked students to submit a plan and documentation of their own Grassroots Green Campus project that restored, improved or sustained the environment at their local campus or campus’ community for a chance to win a Toyota Prius Hybrid. We got a great response to the contest, receiving over 200 applications from CIAA students. Reviewing the applications, it was evident that the students put a lot of hard work and dedication into their plans and were very passionate about carrying out their proposals on their college campuses."
Toyota is currently in the midst of planning programs for the upcoming fiscal year so there are no confirmed plans as of yet for expansion of this campaign. "We have certainly seen the value in the Toyota Green Initiative," concludes Colon. "And we hope to continue the program moving forward.
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