Campus FLIP chapter to participate in laptop-lending program

The organization continues its work to support first-generation, low-income students.


Laura Calhoun, ’20. Frances Marie Pugh, ’20, Taylor Reese, ’19, and Edwin Castellanos, ’20 attended the Alliance for the Low-Income and First Generation Narrative conference in March 2018 as representatives of Washington and Lee’s FLIP chapter. Photo courtesy of FLIP.

Lily Horsley

The First-Generation Low-Income Partnership (FLIP) at Washington and Lee has been selected by its national organization to start a laptop-lending program.

FLIP is a nonprofit organization that promotes equal opportunity for first-generation and low-income students at institutions of higher learning. Kiki Spiezio, ‘17, started Washington and Lee’s chapter in 2017.

Washington and Lee will receive 10 laptops to lend out to students who may not have access to them otherwise. Washington and Lee is one of two chapters selected for the laptop program. FLIP also has chapters at Columbia University, Emory University, Lehigh University and the University of Pennsylvania.

Taylor Reese, ‘19, a co-founder of FLIP, said it has been rewarding to see FLIP grow in the last year and a half.

“At the end of the day, the community is so important,” Reese said. “Students see themselves reflected in their peers and professors, and that has been so exciting to see develop.”

Reese oversees a mentorship program that connects FLIP students with faculty and staff. The group is a supportive space where students may share their experiences at the university. 

Reese said the mentorship program has significantly grown due to a large first-year presence.

“Now, the student-to-staff ratio is more even,” Reese said.

FLIP recently partnered with the University Store to expand another initiative on campus, the Lending Library. Edwin Castellanos, ‘20, started the Lending Library as an alternative to buying textbooks from the University Store.

The University Store donates textbooks to FLIP at the end of the term. FLIP may also profit from books that are sold back to their publisher through the University Store.

“The University Store has been massively helpful,” said Frances Marie Pugh, ‘20, a member of FLIP’s Leadership Team. “Professors have also graciously donated copies of their books to the Lending Library.”

FLIP also co-sponsors a food pantry with Student Affairs and the subcommittee on food insecurity. The organizations started the pantry as a way to reduce food insecurity on campus and provide nutritious options to students in need.

Reese said the food pantry has continued to grow since its opening in December 2017.

The Washington and Lee food pantry is co-sponsored by FLIP and the office of Student Affairs. Photo by Sutton Travis, ’19.

“We’ve worked on consulting with students to see what people want and try to offer a healthy variety,” Reese said. “There are also toiletries and feminine products. This winter, you can find cold winter gear like hats, scarves and gloves.”

In the past, FLIP has sponsored events on campus, such as a week-long event called Money Matters, where professors and Career Services led discussions on résumés and negotiating salaries.

Reese said students would be surprised to learn how welcoming the FLIP community is. She added that FLIP is seeking new members who can assist in coordinating events. 

“We will be looking to add someone to the leadership team in anticipation of my graduation,” Reese said.

To learn more about FLIP and how to get involved, contact Taylor Reese at [email protected], Edwin Castellanos at [email protected] or Frances Marie Pugh at [email protected].