Stephen has received standing ovations from one corner of the globe to the other, across the continental United States, and throughout Latin America. Be it a Fortune 50, 100, or 500 company, non-profit, or university, Stephen brings his passion, purpose and hope with boundless energy, enthusiasm and optimism.
From Disruption to Delivery – A Crash Course in Innovation
“Disruption is business as usual.”
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
“No one can do everything, but everyone can do something!”
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
“We grow vegetables, and our vegetables grow students, classrooms, schools, and communities!”
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 greatest natural resource in the world is the untapped potential residing in low-status and marginalized communities.”
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
“Children should not have to leave their community to live, learn, and earn in a better one.”
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
“When we teach children about nature, we teach them to nurture. And when we teach them to nurture, we as a society embrace our better nature.”
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
“Our rising tide lifts all boats!”
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
“Crises are for the moment; humanity is for a lifetime!”
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.
“Stephen Ritz is one of the most innovative, genuine, and tenacious educators I have ever met. He is the kind of superhero we need standing for our kids and their well-being. He uses gardening to inspire, challenge, and get kids growing in ways that transform their lives and communities. His story will touch your heart and propel you to plant a seed!”
Nona Evans, president and executive director of Whole Kids Foundation
“Stephen Ritz is the most inspiring and enthusiastic speaker on issues of food, sustainability, and education I have ever seen. He has the ability to take an audience on his journey to save the world through his little corner of the Bronx. Si se puede!”
Bob Brinkmann PhD., Professor and Director of Sustainability Studies, Department of Geology, Environment, and Sustainability, Director of Sustainability Research, National Center for Suburban Studies, Hofstra University
“Things went fabulous. We continue to hear from conference attendees saying how much they were inspired by Stephen.”
West Virginia University
“Here’s proof positive that one person can make a difference. Stephen Ritz uses food plants―Green Bronx Machine―to transform kids and their school environments. You can do this too!”
Marion Nestle, professor of food, nutrition, and public health at New York University, and author of What to Eat
“The hyperkinetic, self-described ‘world’s oldest sixth grader,’ Ritz only has one speed: warp”
“The only thing bigger than the impact Stephen has had helping countless students understand the importance of their food choices is his infectious personality. The Power of a Plant outlines the remarkable work he has done to date and provides a blueprint for how educators around the world can implement his learnings effectively.”
Tom Colicchio, chef and owner of Crafted Hospitality
“Building a new and effective Good Food system is everyone’s obligation, and it starts with education. Stephen’s epic story teaches us how to turn every community into a place that nourishes bodies and minds. He’s my hero.”
Will Allen, CEO of Growing Power and author of The Good Food Revolution
“Your presentation was a big success! Lots of people sent us positive comments on the entire event, but your presentation drew particular attention.”
International Institute for Learning, Inc
“In his new book The Power of a Plant, Stephen Ritz weaves a beautiful personal tale of how boundless passion, purpose, and hope can move generations of students in New York’s tough South Bronx to realize their untapped human potential. Stephen uses the power of kindness and purpose to not only teach kids about the world but to create a better world for all of us.”
Daniel Lubetzky, CEO and founder of KIND Snacks
“Thank you! The feedback we received from our people was fantastic! You were super inspiring and we’re very much looking forward to our next event together.”
“Through Steve Ritz, we’re telling a new Bronx story!”
Bronx Borough President, Ruben Diaz Jr.
“I know, for one, that your presentation to our Clinton Foundation staff energized us to dream bigger. We thank you for taking the time to do so.”
CEO, Clinton Climate Initiative
“Stephen’s program is sustainable because he has brought in all the stakeholders, (teachers, parents, administrators, and students) and uses state accredited curriculum. By using food and plant life cycles to teach other subjects he incorporates health, wellbeing, and the environment around them with positive steps to academic success. “
Dr. Katie Wilson, USDA, Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services
“Education should unleash human potential, which is infinite in its capacity to create, know, and solve every conceivable problem. Stephen Ritz has opened a door to this unbounded field of possibilities, which he elegantly describes in The Power of a Plant.”
Deepak Chopra, New York Times bestselling author and author of You are the Universe
“Stephen Ritz personifies inspiration. In the face of adversity most people wilt – not Stephen – he turned despair into opportunity and introduced a school and a community to possibility. His words of motivation translate well beyond the South Bronx children he has taught for three decades.“
Mitch Roschelle, Partner and Practice Leader PwC, Trustee PwC Charitable Foundation
“Best keynote ever!”
Deputy Chancellor, NYC Department of Education