Greencorps Chicago was launched in 1994 as a program of the City of Chicago Department of Environment with $250,000 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding.  The original purpose was to build and maintain community gardens throughout the city in an effort to green the city.

Challenges led program managers to consider how they could invest more into the trainees in order to grow stronger communities. This led to private sector partnerships, which in turn brought a higher industry standard to the program and a more rigorous approach to giving individuals the skills, training and experience needed to succeed in the workforce.  It also allowed an expansion of environmental training modules including landscaping, tree care training and ecological restoration.  Today, Greencorps is part of CDOT, managed by WRD Environmental.