Green City Force

Lisbeth Shepherd.
United States
A programme that trains and employs young adults from low-income communities in services related to the environment, preparing them for careers in the sustainability sector while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting the green economy.
What solution does the innovation propose?

Through a combination of training, skills development, labour experience and community services, Green City Force (GCF) prepares and accompanies adults living in cities in accessing higher education degrees and jobs related to the green economy. The programme works towards the ideal of a ‘green city’ built on principles of sustainability and environmental justice, while at the same time encouraging youth to lead socially and environmentally responsible lifestyles.


Project of the Year, The Corps Network Annual Conference (2017). Community Impact Competition Project of the Year, New York Housing Conference (2016). Environmental Champion Award, US Environmental Protection Agency Region (2015).

Impact evidence

  • Since its foundation in 2009, more than 500 young people participated in the project. The overall graduation rate is 79%.
  • 80% of students achieve placement in employment or college 6 months after completing the programme, and their average wages range from 10 to 15 dollars/hour.
  • Additionally, 30 alumni are employed in the GCF social enterprise.
How does it work?

The programme requires full-time engagement for 6 or 10 months, and targets young people aged 18 to 24 from the highest-need neighbourhoods, where both youth employment and environmental needs are acute. Its methodology combines national service, training and work experience in the green economy and the sustainability sector, which includes green buildings, energy efficiency, renewable energy and sustainable consumption and production.

Participants spend four days a week in the field serving in teams to improve the environment, steward green spaces and reduce the city’s carbon footprint, benefiting their communities while gaining marketable skills and valuable experience. One day a week is dedicated to Green City Academy, a rigorous training and education programme covering job readiness, career development, technical training and eco-literacy, which exposes corps members to a range of career opportunities and leads to certification for entry-level work in the sectors related to sustainable buildings and communities. AmeriCorps Members earn a monthly stipend and receive support for finding a job or getting into college upon programme completion. Their service raises awareness and inspires action around sustainability issues and increases access to healthy food in low-income areas.

Geographical scope

Where was initially developed
New York City, United States.
Last updated: 
March 2019