The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) and City representatives were joined today by the United States Forest Service at the graduation ceremony for Greencorps Chicago, the City’s green industry job training program for individuals with barriers to employment. Participants in the nine-month program gained extensive training and practical experience in the classroom and in the field in areas such as ecological restoration, landscaping, tree care, carpentry, green infrastructure and environmental health and safety.
“Greencorps Chicago is a critically important training program that demonstrates the City of Chicago’s commitment to knocking down barriers to employment for ex-offenders so that they can support themselves and their families, while making a positive contribution to our City,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said. “Greencorps helps people who could have trouble finding employment get the training and experience they need, and also provides job placement assistance that helps them become productive employees who are making Chicago a greener, more sustainable and resilient City.”
“CDOT is extremely proud of this new group of Greencorps Chicago graduates,” CDOT Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld said. “Through Greencorps, CDOT and our partners provide classroom training and opportunities for practical experience in the field that puts these men and women on the road to productive, new lives while making a positive impact in neighborhoods across Chicago.”
The keynote speaker at the ceremony in the Garfield Park Conservatory was Kelly Pearson, a wilderness technician for the US Forest Service in Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois. Members of Greencorps spend part of their time working with the Forest Service at the downstate National Forest where Pearson is the volunteer coordinator.
Under Mayor Emanuel’s leadership, Chicago has enacted strong environmental protections and taken significant steps towards tackling climate change that demonstrate sustainability and economic growth go hand in hand. Mayor Emanuel has continued to drive additional carbon emission reductions through a number of new initiatives or expansion of existing programs since 2015, ranging from increasing the number of highly energy-efficient buildings, to updating all Chicago streetlights to smart LEDs. Through these and other efforts, the City as well as its residents and businesses save money, conserve resources, and reduce harmful pollution while also creating clean 21st-century, local jobs.
This year the City recognized partner organizations that provide valuable support to the training program. An Employer Partner Certificate of Recognition was presented to Applied Ecological Services. A Volunteer Certificate of Recognition was presented to Hermitage Community Garden and the Englewood Veteran’s Garden.
Greencorps, which marks 23 years in operation this year, works with over 30 partners to recruit participants, support job readiness, and provide professional certifications; often leading to permanent jobs once training is completed. Industry partners host internships for the trainees, helping them acquire experience that can lead to permanent jobs.
An outplacement specialist works to identify positive placement matches and continue with post placement follow-up. This process provides more continuous employment and multiple placement opportunities. The program is a 21st Century Conservation Service Corps program and member of The Corps Network.
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