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

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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. Although we are not recruiting volunteers at this time, we will update this webpage when volunteer opportunities become available.

If you are interested in volunteering for the UW Odyssey Project’s community-based programs (including the Odyssey Course, Odyssey Junior, and Onward Odyssey), please fill out this form instead.

To help support currently or formerly incarcerated men and women, please consider the following opportunities:

LGBT Books to Prisoners

LGBT Books to Prisoners actively seeks Madison-based volunteers to respond to book requests from across the country.

Just Dane

Just Dane offers supportive services for people who have been impacted by the criminal justice system. Volunteers help with meal preparation, mentoring, event coordination, and more.

Literacy Network

Although the Literacy Network isn’t directly connected to prison work, volunteers here support the accessibility of adult education throughout Dane County.

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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 Odyssey Beyond Bars Success Coach, 21 N. Park Street 7th floor,
Madison, WI 53715.

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.


Email us at odysseybeyondbars@dcs.wisc.edu

Address: 21 N. Park Street 7th floor, Madison, WI 53715.

Peter Moreno

Peter Moreno

Position title: Director, Odyssey Beyond Bars

Email: peter.moreno@wisc.edu

Phone: 608-262-4555

Jennifer headshot

Jennifer Fandel

Position title: Associate Director, Odyssey Beyond Bars

Email: jfandel@wisc.edu

Phone: 608-262-3239

Odyssey associate director Kevin Mullen

Kevin Mullen

Position title: Assistant Professor, DCS; Director of Adult Education, UW Odyssey Project

Email: kevin.mullen@wisc.edu

Phone: 608-890-3330

Taylor Kirby

Taylor Kirby

Position title: Academic Program Manager, Odyssey Beyond Bars

Email: taylor.kirby@wisc.edu

Phone: 608-590-9769

Pearly Wong

Pearly Wong

Position title: Research and Outreach 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

Mike Exum

Position title: Success Coach, Odyssey Beyond Bars

Email: mike.exum@wisc.edu

Phone: 608-590-6935