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Tree Of Life, LIFE program collaborate to make impact on community

Update on 3/25/2022: Tree of Life is now known as Slingshot.

Elise Kelsey | 

Lipscomb University’s bookstore partner, the Tree of Life, and the Lipscomb Initiative For Education, known as the LIFE program, are teaming up to help provide tools for a special group of students to accomplish their educational goals.

The LIFE program, started in 2007 by professor Richard Goode and now directed by Kate Watkins, works with residents at the Tennessee Prison for Women to help them earn a college degree from Lipscomb University. The LIFE program gives inmates of TPFW a new opportunity and outlook on what they can achieve regardless of their past.

Tree of Life bookstore began its partnership with Lipscomb University in July 2017. A few short months later they connected with Watkins to offer to partner together in support of the university’s LIFE program by donating books.

When Tree of Life officials learned about the LIFE program, they saw quickly that the program aligns with their mission and wanted to help.

“Tree of Life Books believes that we are always on a mission to bring redemption and justice to the things that we do,” says Rachel Measell, the Tree of Life store manager at Lipscomb. “We believe in and value higher education and anyone wanting to pursue one regardless of the circumstances.”

Last fall, Tree of Life contributed $4,000 to help defray LIFE program materials costs. The bookstore sources the lowest cost books, so it can stretch the donation as far as possible to serve the most students. The LIFE program is completely funded through private donations, so partnerships such as the one with Tree of Life are critical to the program’s operation.

“We are so grateful for the generosity of the Tree of Life and their partnership in this program. Their gift has a tremendous impact on our ability to offer a college education to these students,” says Watkins. “Every gift — whether it is a gift of time, money, expertise, materials or others — makes a difference in the lives of these students and is essential to our ability to continue to offer this very unique program.”

The partnership between Tree of Life and the LIFE program has allowed a more personal experience when it comes to ordering supplies, says Watkins.

Before the partnership with Tree of Life, Watkins and her team would have to order books and supplies online and unpack many boxes once they arrived on campus. Now Measell handles the ordering and the bookstore staff unloads the materials.

“We are honored to be involved in a small way to help serve this amazing program and hope to continue with our support for many years to come,” says Measell.

Learn more about Tree of Life bookstore.

Want to know about about the Lipscomb Initiative For Education (LIFE) program?  

—Photos by Kristi Jones