Stephen Ritz

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Stephen Ritz is an internationally acclaimed, award-winning educator, author of the best-selling book, The Power Of A Plant, and Founder of Green Bronx Machine. Known as America’s favorite teacher and 2015 Top Ten Finalist for the Global Teacher Prize, Stephen is responsible for creating the first edible classroom in the world. He and his students have grown more than 165,000 pounds of vegetables in the South Bronx, been celebrated at the Obama White House three times, featured on the cover of TIME for KIDS, and are the subject of a new, full-feature documentary, Generation Growth. A replica of his classroom was installed in the US Botanic Gardens in Washington, DC. His curriculum is being used in hundreds of schools across the United States, and internationally from Colombia to Dubai, Canada to Cairo, to Doha, and beyond. To date, Stephen’s work has been featured by Forbes, Fast Company, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, FOX, TNT, Disney, Discovery TV, NPR, Teach Middle East, The Gulf National, and countless others.

Stephen’s TED talk boasts over 1 million views, ranks in the Top 10 Food/Education TED Talks of all time, and is used for global teacher training/workforce development. Stephen was featured in the film adaptation of Michael Pollan’s best-selling book, In Defense of Food and appeared on ABC’s The Chew, The Rockefeller Foundation’s Food for Thought, NPR’s 50 Great Teachers, All Things Considered, and American Graduate. The State University of New York uses his curriculum to train teachers in all content areas. His recent appearance on PBS’ Growing A Greener World (Episode 808) won an Emmy Award, the first ever in the ten-year history of the show. Stephen is a Senior Fellow in Social Innovation at Babson College and a Board Member for the NYC Nutrition Education Network. Stephen is now appearing in the new PBS educational series Let’s Learn with Mister Ritz, was named the 2020 Change-Maker Award by NYC Food Policy Center for his response to COVID, was named a 2021 Food Hero by TMZ Live, testified for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ending Hunger in America, and was awarded the 2021 Artemis CEA Disruptor Award for his work, advocacy, and impact in public schools across NYC and America. Stephen was just named to the Food Transition Team for NYC Mayor, Eric Adams.


Speaking Points: 


From Disruption to Delivery – A Crash Course in Innovation


Every company, organization, institution, and government had to tackle change and change tactics during the COVID-19 pandemic. For Stephen Ritz, however, disruption is business as usual. Stephen shares lessons learned from the COVID-19 crisis and the tactics used by Green Bronx Machine to turn disruption into an opportunity to better engage with its community. By pivoting away from in-class learning to online education, engaging community members while remaining socially distant, and shifting the organization’s immediate focus to mutual-aid and urgent response, Stephen shares how you can foster a nimble and adaptive culture that can put any strategy for change on the road to success.


Growing A New Economy


In this inspirational presentation, Stephen Ritz shares the unlikely stories of how he and his students farmed their way from the poorest congressional district in the country all the way to the White House and beyond. Through the integration of STEAM and green technologies aligned to all academic, content, and subject areas, coupled with innovative solutions for inspiring healthy habits, Stephen teaches audiences how he improved test scores, attendance rates, graduation rates, and how he lost more than 100 pounds himself! For Stephen, education must be synonymous with opportunity. In a community with 25% unemployment, Stephen has partnered towards the creation of more than 2,200 jobs and shares with audiences the practical stories and actionable advice about how they too can affect great change in their communities!


The Power Of A Plant – A Teacher’s Odyssey To Grow Healthy Minds and Schools


Stephen Ritz shares the Green Bronx Machine story – how a forgotten box of “onions” transformed a teacher’s career and started a movement. Learn about the unique teaching techniques, the educational technologies, and the community partnerships that led “America’s Favorite Teacher” from his Bronx green house to the Obama White House three times, and from hope to the Pope, while becoming a top ten finalist for the Global Teacher Prize. Today, Green Bronx Machine serves more than 50,000 students daily, with a standards-aligned, scalable curriculum that maintains a 100% teacher satisfaction rate and is just getting started. From the Bronx to the world, Green Bronx Machine is cultivating minds and growing hearts – all while spreading seeds of passion, purpose, and hope!


A New Prosperity: The Quintuple Bottom Line


The triple bottom line is out of date! Stephen Ritz believes in a new standard: the Quintuple bottom line: people planet profit progress and purpose. As a collective society, we’ve learned that it’s not enough to survive; we must strive to thrive! Stephen Ritz lays out his vision of the future: one in which diversity is a fact, equity is a choice, inclusion is an action, and belonging is an outcome, shifting the focus from engagement to fulfillment.


Resilience in the Midst of Adversity


There is a Bronx in every city and town on Earth, and their residents collectively hold the solutions to every problem humanity faces. Stephen Ritz has traveled the world to help transform neighborhoods that are fragmented and marginalized into communities that are inclusive and thriving. You can’t go from seed to harvest without cultivation in the middle. Using design-based problem solving to address urban revitalization, Stephen discusses how – through inspired education, local food systems, and 21st century workforce development – we can build livable, breathable, walkable, equitable, and prosperous communities.


Citizen Farming – Growing the Next Generation of Sustainability Champions


165,000 pounds of vegetables later, Stephen’s favorite crop is organically grown citizens, graduates, social and environmental justice advocates, and equity warriors: children who understand their relationship to the world and want to be a positive force for change within it. From the Bronx to Bogota, Cairo to Hong Kong, Detroit to Doha, Denver to Dubai, Medellin to Milan, Chicago to Shanghai, the Arctic Circle to Los Angeles, Stephen’s students are inspiring healthy living and inspiring healthy learning, using the Green Bronx Machine Classroom Curriculum. From surviving to thriving, see these students in action and learn how they’re working to grow a brighter, greener future.


Handshake vs Handout: How Constructive Partnerships Impact Lives and Bottom Lines


Since its founding, Green Bronx Machine has never sought handouts. Instead, Green Bronx Machine has forged unique partnerships with non-profits, local businesses, institutions, and corporations, and set a new standard for how a non-profit organization can offer value to their partners and supporters in addition to the communities and people they serve. Stephen Ritz discusses case studies that demonstrate the collective impact Green Bronx Machine and its partners have had on communities around the world. From one opportune moment to a worldwide movement, you, too, can make epic happen!


Empathy and Compassion as the New Curriculum


2020 taught us many things about the state of the world, while shining a light on the shortcomings of justice systems, healthcare systems, political systems, food systems, and education systems. In unison, communities around the world came together to support one another and provide for those in need. While we live in a world of movements, Stephen discusses his belief that we need to stop seeing and using children as epicenters of profit, and instead teach them to be producers, nurturers and kind empathetic souls: education, not asphyxiation. Focusing on project-based learning, service and collaboration, Stephen redefines model educational practices, outcomes, and objectives for the next hundred years.

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