OBB students Billy, Danny and Mark sit at a table in a prison classroom and talk with with OBB director Peter Moreno in fall 2021
OBB students Billy, Danny and Mark sit at a table in a prison classroom and talk with with OBB director Peter Moreno in fall 2021
OBB students of Spring 2022 at Oakhill

Odyssey Beyond Bars

Odyssey Beyond Bars won the 2021 Eisenberg Award from the Wisconsin State Public Defender.

Read more and check out our award acceptance video!

Supporting Odyssey Beyond Bars

Support Odyssey Beyond Bars by clicking the button below. All donations are tax deductible. For questions, please contact Jenny Pressman, Director of Development and Community Partnerships, at jenny.pressman@wisc.edu.


Get Involved

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

Become a Student

Students at Oakhill share their writing with the class

“Odyssey Beyond Bars has given me an opportunity to examine my experiences; it provokes you to look at things in a different way and gives you the confidence to express yourself.”–Carl Lewis, OBB student

Odyssey Beyond Bars enrolls students in Wisconsin state prisons who are interested in college but not yet enrolled in a degree program. Occasionally, we enroll students who already have some college experience. 

Odyssey Beyond Bars students are admitted to UW-Madison as special students, not degree-seeking students.  We often help our students pursue admission to degree programs at UW-Madison and elsewhere.

We are currently offering English 100at Oakhill Correctional Institution, Green Bay Correctional Institution, Racine Correctional Institution, Columbia Correctional Institution.

We do not operate in any county jails or federal prisons.

Milwaukee Area Technical College, Madison College, and Moraine Park Technical College offer associate degree and certificate programs in certain Wisconsin state prisons. Interested students should ask the Education Director in their institution to learn which programs are available to them.

Become a Volunteer

Thanks for your interest in volunteering for Odyssey Beyond Bars. We are not actively recruiting new volunteers at this time. Our recruitment usually takes place in August and January.

If you would like to add your name to our prospective volunteer pool, please fill out this form. We will contact you during our recruitment period and when suitable opportunities arise.

Volunteer tutors are typically affiliated with the UW System (e.g., graduate students, faculty members, emeriti).

Undergraduate volunteers typically contribute to behind-the-scenes classroom assistance and administrative support such as typing, editing, and assisting instructors.

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

OBB Alumni

If you have successfully completed at least one Odyssey Beyond Bars course, you are one of our program “alumni” and we encourage you to connect with our Success Coach, Mike Exum. Mike can help you pursue additional college courses through UW-Madison and other schools, and some of these courses are free.

Call Mike at 608-590-6935, email him at obbalumni@dcs.wisc.edu, or send a paper letter to OBB Success Coach, UW Odyssey Project, 2238 S. Park Street, Madison, WI 53713.  Mike can help you identify the options available to you, even if you’re not sure what you want to do next.  We look forward to hearing from you!

If you are looking for educational opportunities in the Milwaukee area, Marquette University offers free courses for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals. Browse available courses and apply on their website. If you have questions about Marquette’s programming, contact urbancenter@marquette.edu.

Teaching for OBB

A teacher applauding student in front of a classroom

Thanks for your interest in teaching for Odyssey Beyond Bars. OBB is not actively recruiting new instructors at this time. If you would like to add your name to our prospective instructor pool, please fill out this form. When opportunities arise, our team will contact you.

To teach for OBB, you must be affiliated with a UW university and have approval from your department to teach the course(s) you propose.

UW System Prison Education Initiative (UWPEI)

Odyssey Beyond Bars proudly co-leads the UW System Prison Education Initiative, a collaborative effort to advance higher education in prison through multiple UW universities statewide.  This initiative is working to develop UW certificate and degree programs for our students so they can earn college credentials and build work-ready skills before they return to their communities.

In December 2021, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation awarded the UW System and the Department of Corrections a $5.7 million grant to expand higher education in prisons statewide.

We applaud the UW System for recognizing the immense potential of our students and the positive impacts they can make on the world around them when they have opportunities for transformation and success.

OBB student Billy

Join the UW Coalition for Higher Education in Prison mailing list

Odyssey Beyond Bars is a proud founding member of the UW Coalition for Higher Education in Prison (UW CHEP). UW CHEP was established in 2020 as a UW-based collective of programs and individuals who have come together to advance higher education in Wisconsin’s prisons.

Sign up below to get quarterly UW CHEP updates.


Peter Moreno

Peter Moreno

Position title: Director of Odyssey Beyond Bars

Email: peter.moreno@wisc.edu

Phone: 608-262-4555

Odyssey associate director

Kevin Mullen

Position title: Odyssey Project Co-Director and OBB Instructional Advisor

Email: kevin.mullen@wisc.edu

Phone: 608-890-3330

Lauren Surovi headshot

Lauren Surovi

Position title: Academic Program Manager, Odyssey Beyond Bars

Email: surovi@wisc.edu

Phone: 608-286-9144

Taylor Kirby

Position title: Assistant Program Manager, Odyssey Beyond Bars

Email: taylor.kirby@wisc.edu

Phone: 608-590-9769

Jennifer headshot

Jennifer Fandel

Position title: Writing Instructor & Tutor Coordinator, Odyssey Beyond Bars

Email: jfandel@wisc.edu

Phone: 608-262-3239

Pearly Wong

Pearly Wong

Position title: Outreach and Research Coordinator, Odyssey Beyond Bars

Email: pwong7@wisc.edu

Rachel Ritacco

Position title: Program Coordinator, Odyssey Beyond Bars

Email: rritacco@wisc.edu

Phone: 608-590-9958

Mike Exum

Position title: Success Coach, Odyssey Beyond Bars

Email: mike.exum@wisc.edu

Phone: 608-590-6935