City of Chicago Celebrates 2023 Graduates of Greencorps Job Training Program

December 14, 2023

 CDOT Acting Commissioner Tom Carney speaks at a podium with Greencorps graduates behind him

CHICAGO –The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) today joined public and private sector partners to celebrate the graduation of a group of 31 trainees from Greencorps Chicago, the City’s green job training program for individuals with barriers to employment. Graduates of the paid nine-month long program gained extensive training and practical experience in the classroom and in the field in ecological restoration, landscaping, tree care, carpentry, green infrastructure and environmental health and safety, along with essential job readiness skills.   
"Greencorps Chicago is a great example of how we can empower residents to create positive change in their lives and communities,” said Mayor Johnson. “Through workforce development for returning citizens, improving vacant lots in the neighborhoods most affected by violence, and providing summer employment to high school students through its youth program, Greencorps Chicago is helping to make Chicago a better city. I extend my sincere congratulations to today’s graduates for their hard work and dedication.”  
Greencorps Chicago empowers 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 returning residents and other Chicagoans with barriers to employment to earn over $18 an hour while receiving training and hands-on experience in a variety of environmentally related jobs. The outcome is healthier, safer, and more engaged communities and individuals who are prepared for employment.  

"CDOT is proud to be the home of the Greencorps Chicago program because of the profound impact it has on the lives of Chicago residents,” said CDOT Acting Commissioner Tom Carney. “To get here today, each graduate was expected not only to work hard on projects out in the field, but to also work equally hard in the classroom to enhance their knowledge and push themselves to grow personally and professionally.” 
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 650 graduates in its 29 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.    

A Greencorps Chicago graduates speaks at a podium in front on his fellow graduates

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.   
Work completed by Greencorps Chicago trainees this year includes:  

  • Improving over 200 vacant lots on the south and west sides by cleaning and building gardens in our communities most affected by violence in partnership with the Community Safety Coordination Center (CSCC). 
  • Improving over 200 acres of natural habitat in the Forest Preserves of Cook County. 
  • Maintaining trails at Chicago parks across the city and maintaining landscaping at some of the City Colleges of Chicago. 

An audience stands and applauds during the Greencorps Chicago graduation ceremony


Greencorps trainees are also offered a range of professional certifications including 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 wrap-around 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. Greencorps graduates have gone on to work at the Chicago Park District, ecological restoration companies, the Cook County Forest Preserves, and many other businesses and organizations. 

Greencorps also has a summer program for youth and young adults that introduces Chicago public high school students to skills and service projects in sustainability fields including bicycling, horticulture, ecological restoration, and tree care. This year, the Greencorps Chicago Youth Program had over 220 participants from eight Chicago Public Schools high schools on the south and west sides.  

You can learn more about Greencorps Chicago at