22 Jan 2024

Lifespan: Workforce Development

Josh Pereira


Creating Pathways to a Successful Future

“You know how in life they say that everybody needs somebody? This program was that something and you all were that somebody for me. You know when they say that all it takes is one person to believe in you and you can accomplish anything? It took this experience and this program for me to acknowledge the truth in that,” said Stephanie D, of her experience with Pathway to Employment, one of the programs that was developed as part of the partnership between POC and Lifespan.

The partnership, which began 3 years ago was designed to support career training programs that help ensure Lifespan’s workforce and its leaders reflect the communities they serve. POC provided Lifespan with a four-year, multi-million dollar grant to build a sustainable professional development program that is not just for entry level jobs, but for meaningful employment pathways and career-oriented opportunities. And three years into the program, it is a resounding success.

Lifespan used the grant from POC to build Workforce Solutions, Training and Teamwork (STAT) programs which offers free education to under- and unemployed adults (18+) to become certified for entry-level health care positions in the fields of nursing, mental health, pharmacy and more. All programs are designed to be fully comprehensive, candidates can benefit from in-field learning, job skill training, financial support for barriers to employment, and case management services.

POC funded workforce development programs with Lifespan have hired 412 people whose roles support diverse departments from Summer Youth Employment, Pathway to Employment, Nursing Assistant School, Patient Support Specialist Program and Medical Assistant There are currently 7 Workforce STAT classes running and the programs offered have expanded from 15 in 2021 to 18 in 2023. The workforce programs are currently on track to hire 1000 people from communities with the greatest need.

Programs that Work

The Nursing Assistant program has been a big success. POC funding made it possible to hire 4 Nurse Educators (with an additional 3 more in the pipeline). According to Brandon T., a graduate of the Nursing Assistant Program, “If I could sum up my overall experience with the NA program in only 2 words, it would be “eye-opening.” This was my first experience in the medical field, and I feel like I learned a great deal throughout my 4 months of training. During that time, I met some of the most friendly and helpful people I’ve ever come across and I’m grateful to have met and learned alongside them. I feel like I’ve also grown a lot as a person, having learned not only how to care for others but also self-care and how to better manage myself to become a healthier person both physically and mentally. Overall, my experience has been fantastic and I’m immensely grateful for everything.”

The Nursing Assistant program has grown so much since first opening in 2021 that an additional evening class will be added in 2024.

Pathway to Employment, a program for justice-involved individuals, accepted 11 students into its first class, of which Stephanie D. was one. Eight students graduated and all of them received job offers. Six months later, all of the students are still employed. According to Kam A., a graduate of the program, “Prior to this program, I was released from a 14-and-a-half-year prison sentence. Throughout and after this sentence, and previous ones, I always lived under tremendous, and in some ways socially debilitating anxiety over how I would financially sustain myself and not live such a desperate life, which of course influenced some bad decision making. Pathway to Employment not only relieved me of the anxiety by providing me employment, but it has prepared and acquainted me with the social norms and expectations of a dignified workplace and a civilized world.”

The second session of Pathway to Employment is currently in progress. Positive outcomes from this program include decreased reliance on public assistance and increased quality of medical care and housing, collaboration with the Federal Probation Office and inclusion in a pivotal review of fair chance hiring system wide.

Providing Access

POC funding also helped formalize hiring practices at Lifespan that help job seekers who were previously unable to access the complex hiring process. By assisting community members with resume building, mock interviews, helping to navigate the onboarding process once hired, and making the onboarding process more accessible to members of the community, Lifespan and POC facilitated a total of 55 hires through these new hiring practices.

Stephanie, Brandon and Kam are just a few of those whose lives have been forever changed by the opportunity to do meaningful work. As Stephanie said, everybody needs somebody, and these amazing programs will continue to fulfill that need for many people.


Share your Story of Life

We all have a story. Your story and that of your community should be told by you, because it’s lived by you.