The Japanese automaker officially began the contest Wednesday in West Caldwell, New Jersey. The idea is to let representatives from various US nonprofits compete in five heats, with as many as eight organizations competing in each heat. Contestants will have to drive at least 500 miles total and 75 miles per week over a 30-day period. The driver with the best fuel economy (measured by the cars' on-board computers) wins a $2,500 contribution to his or her nonprofit, while the second- and third-place finishers win $1,000 and $500 donations. All participants also get a $200 gas card.
Among the first wave of contestants are the New York-based Greyston Foundation, Connecticut's RYASAP and New Jersey's Helping Hands Food Pantry. Read Toyota's press release below.
Toyota Urges Tri-State Organizations to Plug-in for Charity with Environmentally-Focused Challenge
WEST CALDWELL, N.J., May 29, 2013 – Toyota announced today the launch of the first Prius MPG Challenge rewarding environmentally-conscious, charitable organizations in N.Y., N.J. and Conn., with contributions totaling $20,000.
The Challenge – which consists of five separate waves of competition, each with up to eight challengers – awards those participants garnering the highest overall MPG over the course of a 30-day period. It kicks off with an event today in West Caldwell, N.J., to hand off vehicles to the first wave of challengers.
Participants will borrow a Prius Plug-in for 30 days. To be eligible to win, challengers must drive a minimum of 500 miles total and 75 miles each week. The highest overall MPG according to the Prius' trip computer per 30-day challenge wins a $2,500 contribution, with second-place finisher earning $1,000 and the third-place finisher winning $500. All participating companies will also receive a $200 gas card.
"We see the MPG Challenge as a way to make environmental education fun," said David Christ, general manager of Toyota's New York Region. "By tapping regional organizations, we're able to engage at a local level while demonstrating the Toyota Prius Plug-In's ability to improve the lives of our fellow community members."
The first wave of ecologically-conscious organizations participating as MPG Challengers includes:
- The Greyston Foundation, a Yonkers, N.Y.-based network of for-profit and not-for-profit entities providing life services and work opportunities to low-income individuals and families, including the bakery that exclusively supplies brownies to Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream
- Greater Mercer TMA, a nonprofit, public private partnership dedicated to reducing traffic congestion, decreasing air pollution and improving mobility in and around Mercer and Ocean County, N.J.
- Bloomfield College, an independent, four-year college in Bloomfield, N.J., that prepares students to attain academic, personal and professional excellence in a multicultural and global society
- RYASAP, a Bridgeport, Conn.-based nonprofit that serves as a catalyst in communities to ensure the safe and healthy development of youth, young adults and families
- The Center of United Methodist Aid to the Community Ecumenically Concerned Helping Others (CUMAC/ECHO), which works to alleviate hunger and its root causes in Paterson, Passaic County and northern N.J.
- Glamourgals, a national organization that creates teen volunteer chapters providing companionship and complimentary beauty makeovers to women living in senior homes.
- The Helping Hands Food Pantry, a donation-run group established by a local councilman and minister in Teaneck, N.J., that provides free, supplemental groceries to needy residents