Senior Fellow in Social Innovation
Stephen Ritz is a South Bronx educator who believes that students should not have to leave their community to live, learn, and earn in a better one. An internationally acclaimed award-winning educator, Stephen is the author of the best-selling book, The Power Of A Plant, and founder of Green Bronx Machine. Known as “America’s Favorite Teacher,” Stephen is responsible for creating the first edible classroom in the world, which he has evolved into the National Health, Wellness and Learning Center. He and his students have grown more than 100,000 pounds of vegetables in the South Bronx, and in the process, Stephen has moved school attendance from 40% to 93% daily and helped provide 2,200 youth jobs in the Bronx.
Stephen was a Top Ten Finalist for the Global Teacher Prize, named Global Humanitarian, Food Tank Hero, TEDx Prize Winner and a Global Food Educator, and has presented at the Obama White House three times. 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, from Canada to Cairo, to Doha, and beyond.
Stephen’s TED talk boasts more than 1 million views, ranks in the Top 10 Food/Education TED Talks of all time, and is used for teacher training/workforce development globally. 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. He and his students have been featured on the covers of TIME for KIDS and Scholastic Magazine, are the subject of a new, full-feature documentary, Generation Growth. Stephen splits his time between his home in the Bronx and his residence in The Sustainable City in Dubai, UAE, where he serves as Director of Health, Wellness and Innovation for Esol Education at Fairgreen International School. Currently, Stephen is working with Anthem Blue Cross / Blue Shield to bring Green Bronx Machine programming to 22 American cities across 19 states. Stephen was just awarded the 2020 Change-Maker Award by NYC Food Policy Center for his work, advocacy and impact in public schools across NYC and America!