Following a devastating cold spell in the winter of 1994 which injured a significant portion of the aroid collection, the Chicago Park District convened a task force of representatives from various community, education, and environmental organizations. For six months, eighty individuals participated in the development of a plan to revitalize the Conservatory through new programs, visitor services, marketing and fundraising.
These activities would be carried out by a newly formed Alliance, a partnership of organizations which included the Chicago Park District, Friends of the Parks, and area schools, museums, conservation organizations and community groups.
The plan was subsequently funded by Lila-Wallace Reader's Digest Fund's Urban Parks Initiative which awarded a $1.46 million challenge grant. The grant requires a one to one match, at least 60% of which must come from private funds. The Chicago Park District has committed to the full 40% public sector match.
In early 1998, the Alliance filed for non-profit status and began the process of transitioning from a steering committee to a board of directors. Several subcommittees carry out specialized functions: