Amplifying Odyssey voices

Odyssey student Anthony standing with his classmates at UW–Madison information desk

“Odyssey is the pencil of life with which we can erase past regrets and rewrite our future. Every ‘word’ formed solidifies our resolve, those periods at the end a proud stamp of success. Sentence by sentence, we forge a new tale.” — Anthony Jefferson, Odyssey ’17

The award‑winning, multigenerational UW Odyssey Project prepares students for college and life by strengthening their confidence and skills in writing, reading, public speaking and critical thinking, helping to ensure a better future for themselves and their families. By taking our writing‐focused classes and working with our team of literacy tutors, students develop confidence in the power of their voices to change the world.

Writing and storytelling form the heart of Odyssey. Odyssey encourages students to tell their stories by publishing their writing in the Odyssey Oracle, a beautifully illustrated newsletter featuring their photos and words. They beam with pride as they read their writing aloud in class or share the publication with family members. All four parts of our program — Odyssey, Onward Odyssey, Odyssey Junior and Odyssey Beyond Bars — produce Oracles that empower students to discover their voices, visions and truths. You can read through current and past Oracles by going to our website and clicking “Read the Odyssey Oracle” in the top menu.

Every Voice Counts

Corey Saffold, an Odyssey ’06 alum now on the UW Board of Regents, learned how much his words mattered after Odyssey Codirector Emily Auerbach encouraged him to submit his Oracle article, “Education Must Trump Prison Time,” to the Wisconsin State Journal just prior to his Odyssey graduation. Opening with a quote from Frederick Douglass, Corey’s editorial links the high dropout rate of Black male high school students to Wisconsin’s disproportionately high incarceration rate of Black men. Many people responded to the article, including the late Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Shirley Abrahamson.

“That let me know that I had a very significant voice; that I could gather my thoughts, put my voice into writing and then have it be seen on a large scale,” Saffold says. “Odyssey didn’t just help me find my voice, but I physically saw what finding my voice meant and what finding my voice could do.”

Writing Heals

For Jeannine Shoemaker, profiled in Odyssey’s October newsletter, Odyssey’s writing class for alumni has been life-changing as she works through the unimaginable grief of losing a child. “It’s therapeutic to see your words and feelings put to paper,” she says. “It releases so much pain and sorrow, leaving room in one’s heart for the good things to come.”

Other Odyssey students have written openly about surviving domestic abuse, traumatic childhoods, substance abuse, foster care, depression and other challenges. As Danny, an incarcerated learner currently in Odyssey Beyond Bars, put it, “Writing became my way to write down my darkest thoughts and bring them to light.” Fellow incarcerated classmate Touissant adds, “Writing has more than likely saved my life at some points.”

Will you help Odyssey students in all four parts of our program find and use their voices? Your gift will support writing tutors for students in our community and prison classes; storytelling, poetry and theater workshops for adult and youth learners; expanded Oracles and other avenues for student self‐expression and self‑advocacy.

Donate today to the Odyssey Project Fund online by clicking the button below or by mailing a check to:

UW Foundation
US Bank Lockbox 78807
Milwaukee, WI 53278‑0807

Please indicate on your check’s memo line that your gift is for the Odyssey Project Fund.

Thank you for amplifying more Odyssey student voices!

Donate to Odyssey Project Fund