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LIFE Program

By providing access to higher education for many, we enhance the educational experience of all.

At Lipscomb, we seek to provide higher education to every person who desires it and to deepen the spiritual and academic growth of all of our students. The Lipscomb Initiative for Education (LIFE) program will provide you with one of the most special and unique learning experiences offered at our institution. Our traditional students will have the opportunity to study and learn alongside residents of the Debra K. Johnson Rehabilitation Center. Through this experience, both groups of students will have the chance to develop the self-confidence, character, knowledge and compassion to pursue their next in life, while serving with others.

Founded in 2007 by Lipscomb professor Richard Goode, the LIFE program first began with only 15 traditional, or “outside,” students and 15 residents of the rehabilitation center, or “inside” students. In 2013, we saw the success of our unique and impactful program culminate in the graduation of our first cohort of students from the center. Nine “inside” students completed the requirements for their associate’s degrees and received their diplomas from Lipscomb University during our first commencement ceremony held inside the center. In 2015, the second cohort of students earned their associate’s degrees as well, and in 2017, six women completed their bachelor's degrees in professional studies. 

These students have the opportunity to not only pursue graduate work at the Debra K. Johnson Rehabilitation Center but also take additional courses on the Lipscomb campus after they are released.

"LIFE gives me a future. LIFE gives me a community. LIFE gives me hope."

—Shelly Ann, Lipscomb student and resident of the Debra K. Johnson Rehabilitation Center

TPW Graduation 2017

TPW Graduation 2015

Lipscomb University awards first associate degrees to LIFE students

The Life Program - Trailer

The Life Program - Chapter 1

The Life Program - Chapter 2

The Life Program - Chapter 3


Of state prisons offer college courses


Of residents are able to take college courses


Employment increase to residents who took courses

LIFE is one of only a handful of programs in the U.S. to offer a college degree to prison inmates.

Learn how LIFE touches lives.