CDOT and City Partners Celebrate Graduation of New Class of Greencorps Job Training Program

December 16, 2021

Ceremony held in Garfield Park Conservatory for Graduates of City’s Paid, Green Industry Training Program for Adults with Barriers to Employment

Mike Claffey    312.744.0707

New Class of Greencorps Job Training Program
Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) Commissioner Gia Biagi joined public and private sector partners today to celebrate the graduation of a group of 25 trainees from Greencorps Chicago, the City’s green job training program for individuals with barriers to employment. The graduates spent the last nine months in the paid training program and provided vital support for efforts to clean and green Chicago communities, including in neighborhoods that are part of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s signature INVEST South/West (ISW) initiative. ISW is designed to revitalize communities that have suffered from a legacy of under-investment and disinvestment. 


“On behalf of Mayor Lightfoot and all of the Chicagoans who benefited from the hard work of beautifying our neighborhoods, I congratulate today’s graduates,” CDOT Commissioner Biagi said. “Greencorps is such a great asset. It provides tremendous opportunities for Chicagoans who face challenges breaking into the job market to earn a wage and gain vital experience and skills that prepare them for productive careers in the growing green job sector while also making Chicago healthier and more resilient.”  

CDOT and City Partners Celebrate Graduation of New Class of Greencorps

The mission of the CDOT-administered program is to empower residents from Chicago’s underserved neighborhoods to create change in their lives and communities through training, service, and career opportunities in environmental fields. The nine-month program provides a chance for ex-offenders and others with barriers to employment to earn $15 an hour while attending classes and receiving training and practical experience in various aspects of green industry, such as building neighborhood gardens, ecological restoration, landscaping, tree care, carpentry, green infrastructure, and environmental health and safety. 


Earlier this year, Mayor Lightfoot announced a $500,000 donation from the SHOWTIME network and cast members of the hit show “The Chi,” to pay Greencorps trainees to clean and beautify 32 vacant lots in Bronzeville and North Lawndale, areas that are part of Mayor Lightfoot’s ISW initiative. 


Also in 2021, the Greencorps Chicago Youth Program (GCYP) returned from a three-year hiatus. The summer employment program introduces Chicago public high school students aged 15-19 to careers and service projects in sustainability fields including bicycling, horticulture, ecological restoration, and tree care.  


GCYP welcomed 127 youth from six Chicago public high schools in Garfield Park, Hyde Park, Washington Park, and Grand Crossing. They completed over 15 service projects within their communities and were introduced to some of the many wonders of Chicago including public landmarks, urban farms, community gardens, forest preserves, parks, mobile markets, and museums. 


In 2022, GCYP plans to double in size and welcome 250 youth from up to twelve Chicago public high schools. 


Greencorps Chicago’s adult program works with over 30 public and private sector partners to recruit participants, support job readiness, and provide professional certifications. The program has produced more than 600 graduates in its 27 years of existence and in the last five years has succeeded in placing about 80 percent of them in jobs. Industry partners host internships for the trainees, helping them acquire additional experience that can lead to permanent jobs.   

In the classroom, trainees learn about horticulture, ecology, green infrastructure, tree care, pesticide use, and other topics. They then apply those skills through field training that takes place while working on projects for the Chicago Park District, the Cook County Forest Preserves, City vacant lots, Chicago City Colleges, and other project partners.  

Greencorps trainees are also offered a range of professional certifications including Defensive Driving, First Aid/CPR, OSHA Hazardous Waste Operator, OSHA 10-Hour Safety, Chicago Wilderness Prescription Burn Class, the Illinois Pesticide license, and others.  

Throughout their time with Greencorps, trainees are supported with social services, mentoring, and professional coaching, increasing their ability to secure full time employment upon completion of the training.  

Trainees also have access to a placement coordinator that works with graduates to identify successful employment matches and post placement follow-up and to a social worker. Greencorps grads have gone on to work at the Chicago Park District, ecological restoration company Cardno, the Cook County Forest Preserves, and many other businesses and organizations. 

Recruitment is now underway for Greencorps’ 2022 program.  Interested candidates who want to apply should go to: - or call 312-746-9777.  


Follow Greencorps Chicago on Facebook: 

News Release Facts