Green Bronx Machine to Hold Ribbon-Cutting Event Celebrating New State-of-the-Art Classrooms in the Bronx Made Possible by $100,000 Grant From the Wells Fargo Foundation
Bronx, NY – On January 18, 2024, at PS 168 in the Bronx, Green Bronx Machine will be joined by Wells Fargo leaders, local elected officials, teachers, and students for a ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating a new, state of the art classroom – the first of three across the Bronx – through a $100,000 grant made possible by the Wells Fargo Foundation. The donation will support Bronx schools with transformative green education, STEAM, health, wellness, and nutrition programming aligned to indoor, academic, aeroponic Tower Gardens, mobile classroom kitchens and acclaimed Green Bronx Machine Classroom Curriculum and teacher training.
Following the ribbon-cutting, Green Bronx Machine officials, teachers, students, and volunteers from Wells Fargo will plant the indoor Tower Garden technology and prepare and partake in a series of healthy meals highlighting what can and will be grown in school regularly through this program. Guests are welcome and invited to join and partake in the festivities.
Schools chosen for this pilot program include PS 168 – The Success Express, a District 75 school serving children with special needs, PS 70 – Max Schoenfeld School, which sits atop the Cross Bronx Expressway and has some of the highest child asthma rates in NYC and the nation, and PS 11, The Highbridge School – in one of the oldest original school buildings in NYC located within one of the most economically challenged communities experiencing food insecurity across NYC. Above and beyond the impact that will be generated, these sites – rigorously selected – represent a model template for replicable programming across the city and nation.
WHEN: January 18, 2024, 10:00-11:00 a.m.
WHERE: PS 168, 3050 Webster Avenue, Bronx, NY 10467 – enter on 202nd Street Entrance.
“Wells Fargo’s support of the Green Bronx Machine and this transformative green education program aligns with our ongoing efforts to encourage sustainability where we work and live,” said Catherine Domenech, Vice President of Philanthropy & Community Impact for New York, at Wells Fargo. “Food insecurity is one of the biggest issues impacting many students in New York City today, and we applaud Green Bronx Machine for their unwavering commitment to the most at-risk and vulnerable communities across the Bronx.”
“We are beyond excited and grateful for the generosity of Wells Fargo to our Bronx children, teachers, schools, and communities,” said Stephen Ritz, Founder of Green Bronx Machine. This wrap-around model – complete with new classrooms, kitchens, multiple tower gardens, classroom supplies, curriculum, and professional development – will transform teaching and learning immediately and into perpetuity for these entire school communities. Wells Fargo’s role in investing in these communities and embracing the lenses of sustainability and wellness is an investment in the minds, bodies, and health of all Bronxites and serves as a model for corporate social responsibility. To be clear, none of this would have happened if not for their kindness and generosity. Every child deserves a place where they can see a better, brighter future, and be partners and engaged with those possibilities. Thanks to Wells Fargo, we can provide these forward-thinking facilities and grow the next generation of high performing schools and happy, healthy, children rooted in sustainable food systems and sound environmental, restorative practices. We are forever grateful.”
“A healthy meal is just one part of the equation to lead a healthy life. We need to equip our young people with the knowledge and habits to live healthy lives, in and outside of school, and support education systems that empower everyone to be advocates for healthy habits and wellness,” said NYC Mayor’s Office of Food Policy Executive Director Kate MacKenzie. “Green Bronx Machine has been invested in the work of empowering students and promoting healthy schools in this community since 2014, always leading with the knowledge that healthy schools are at the heart of healthy communities. I am thrilled to see their incredible programming expand with this donation from Wells Fargo.”
“Green Bronx Machine has achieved something great here,” said UFT District 75 Representative David Doorga. “Our students, despite being challenged by severe Special Needs, are now able to grow sustainable, healthy food to feed themselves, their families, and our school community. This is how we achieve true equity and lasting change. We are tremendously grateful to Wells Fargo, Stephen Ritz, and Lizette Ritz for everything they have done and are continuing to do for our children. I’d like to see these types of opportunities continue to scale across District 75 and the rest of NYC.”
“We have never had an opportunity like this before,” said Maureen Fullerton, Principal of PS 168 – The Success Express. “Thanks to Wells Fargo, Green Bronx Machine was able to do a complete renovation in our school, transforming a classroom into a green oasis of opportunity from the floor to the ceiling, including a kitchen, serving supplies, all classroom materials, curriculum, and teacher training. Our students, teachers, parents, are thrilled. Moreover, to be able to support a dedicated teacher with resources and a laboratory classroom the school itself could never afford is a fabulous way to reward a teacher who has continuously gone above and beyond all expectations and build capacity at a time when there is crisis within the profession. Our teachers and children deserve the very best and this is surely it.”
“I feel like I have won the “teacher lottery,” said teacher Saige Calfe of PS168 who was selected by Principal Fullerton for the classroom makeover. “Nothing says thank you louder and more clearly than a state-of-the-art new classroom with every bell and whistle imaginable. The students and I are so excited to for this opportunity – debuting in the dead of winter no less – allowing us to take our learning and community outreach to a whole new level. As a teacher who has loved to garden with children, to be able to do so, indoors, all year round, in a fully accessible manner with Tower Gardens and a custom, classroom kitchen is amazing!”
“It is no secret that for years, our community has been plagued by high asthma rates and diet related issues. Thus, the incredible donation by Wells Fargo in partnership with Green Bronx Machine is a dramatic and magnanimous step forward in educating our children and literally infusing oxygen, life, health, wellness, and opportunity into our school.” Principal Roxanne Ledda of PS 70 – Max Shoenfeld school. “This donation and new classroom will become the cornerstone of our science and health / wellness programming. We plan to integrate the vegetables grown into our school salad bar and nutrition and wellness programming. Classroom facilities like these, help to retain quality teachers and attract new talent to our community while building value, spirit, and awareness within it. We could not be more grateful, honored, and excited. Thanks Wells Fargo and Green Bronx Machine for inspiring healthy living and learning.”
“We are so proud and grateful to be included in this initiative and the energy, enthusiasm, and excitement within and beyond our school community are palpable,” Daisy Joy Rodrigo, Principal of PS 11 – the Highbridge School. “Food access and education is absolutely critical in this community, we have so many parents and teachers excited about growing food and minds here in school and this new classroom, and everything within it is simply amazing and state of the art. Given our school building dates back to 1888, to be able to build something so modern and exciting, within the confines of our walls, with no interruption to teaching and learning speaks volumes and is setting a standard that can be replicated everywhere. Thanks Wells Fargo and Green Bronx Machine.”
About Green Bronx Machine
Founded in 2011 by Global Teaching Prize finalist and life-long educator Stephen Ritz, Green Bronx Machine (GBM) is an impact driven, for-purpose organization with 501(c)(3) status. GBM builds healthy, equitable and resilient communities through inspired education, local food systems, and 21st Century workforce development. Dedicated to cultivating minds and harvesting hope, its school-based model and propriety curriculum uses urban agriculture aligned to key school performance indicators, to grow healthy students and healthy schools. Simultaneously, GBM also transforms once fragmented and marginalized communities into neighborhoods that are inclusive and thriving.
In the last year alone, GBM and Ritz have distributed more than 150,000 pounds of food, produced 5,000-plus pounds of produce grown locally in the Bronx, built and stocked three new food pantries, delivered weekly 152 backpacks of food to students and fulfilled more than 1,600 emergency food requests from families in need. Ritz and GBM also have trained nearly 1,500 teachers using GBM’s curriculum, impacting more than 275,000 students in the Bronx, across America and around the world and were proud to debut Let’s Learn with Mister Ritz, a PBS children’s show with more than 2 million views.
For more information, visit https://greenbronxmachine.org.