Pictured left to right: Joe Pannozzo, vice president and chief development officer, Rhode Island Hospital and Hasbro Children’s Hospital; John Tarantino, trustee, Papitto Opportunity Connection; Dr. Timothy J. Babineau; Barbara Papitto; Lisa Abbott (photo credit: Lifespan)

Four-year award will fund training and hiring of 1,000 BIPOC individuals

In order to ensure that Lifespan’s workforce reflects the diversity of the community it serves, Lifespan is expanding its suite of professional development programs and adding new career pathways for BIPOC individuals.  Through support from the Papitto Opportunity Connection (POC), Lifespan will hire more than 1,000 BIPOC individuals over the next four years across our system of care.

The POC award will accelerate Lifespan’s efforts to build a comprehensive and forward-thinking career development program that provides opportunities for entry and advancement, particularly in high-need areas. The result will be greater access to career pathways into higher-paying jobs for the state’s BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) community.

“As the largest employer in Rhode Island, we want to lead the way in diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace, and philanthropy of this magnitude has the power to significantly move the needle toward that goal,” said Lifespan President and CEO Timothy J. Babineau, MD. “We are grateful for the opportunity POC has given us. Barbara Papitto’s humble desire to make a difference with her philanthropy is an admirable example for others.” 

“Lifespan’s commitment to providing education and skills training that will directly create good paying, career-oriented jobs for Rhode Island’s BIPOC community is truly transformational,” said Barbara Papitto, founder of the Papitto Opportunity Connection. “Developing opportunities for communities of color that are out of the box and potential game changers are exactly the kind of program POC is passionate about and wants to support.” 

Lifespan’s workforce development program aims to create a workforce of well-trained, diverse health care professionals who are representative of the communities they serve. With the POC award, Lifespan will be able to expand programs to provide no-cost certification for high-demand medical professions, such as nursing assistant, pharmacy technician, medical assistant, behavioral health specialist, and doula.  Lifespan will also develop a paid job-training program for formerly incarcerated BIPOC individuals, and a succession program to prepare diverse employees for leadership roles. Additionally, there are plans to create a Nursing Leadership Fellowship program and offer academic scholarships for employees from underrepresented communities.

“This is about improving access to advanced education and leadership development to increase career opportunities for BIPOC individuals, and that includes eliminating barriers to job entry and advancement,” said Lisa M. Abbott, Lifespan senior vice president of human resources and community affairs. “Thanks to this grant, we’re able to say to someone, ‘We can invest in you over a period of time.’ The ability to approach our workforce development program in this way is really transformative.”  

Opportunities through Lifespan’s workforce development program will be made available to both existing employees and non-employees. The organization has already begun recruitment efforts for training sessions that begin in December, and will continue recruiting into 2022. Interested candidates can contact Lifespan directly for more information about available opportunities, by visiting lifespan.org/POC.

The $10 million commitment from the Papitto Opportunity Connection (POC) was made to Lifespan’s charitable arm, the Lifespan Foundation, and is the largest gift to the foundation in its history.

Kathleen Hart

Director, Public Relations
[email protected]