A Madison community program that works to jump-start the college careers of low-income adults through a free six-credit humanities course is yielding more than just academic benefits for many students, according to the first external evaluation in the program’s 16-year history.
The evaluation found the Odyssey Project course helped students achieve an improved sense of self – a feeling of belonging in the world of organized education and a key predictor of success.
To celebrate national poetry month, the Capital City Hues published poetry from all 30 of this year’s Odyssey students!
Known as Odyssey Junior, the program works because its welcoming atmosphere allows children to build self-confidence and become more self-reliant. Those are empowering characteristics that create hope for the future as readily as the love of reading that program instructors work to instill each week, evaluators from the Wisconsin Center for Education Research within the School of Education found.
Believing in the power of education to break a cycle of generational poverty, Bob chose at the time of Wanda’s death to use her retirement account to start an endowment to benefit Odyssey students. Now he is marking his 90th birthday with a surprisingly generous offer.
Read about Odyssey’s Assistant Director of Development and Community Partnerships, Jenny Pressman, and her decades of social justice work.
Albert Watson had a great deal on his plate, including working and raising a family, when he applied to the University of Wisconsin–Madison Odyssey Project. At the time, it was hard to see past the obstacles in his life.
Watson completed the program—including its two-semester, six-credit course exploring English literature, philosophy, and history—in 2008, and he hasn’t looked back since. Now he’s beginning his next educational journey—completing a bachelor’s degree—with help from both Odyssey and UW–Madison’s Badger Ready program.
“Often people don’t find a community of other working parents who face similar obstacles and are succeeding,” says Johnson. “We have drop-in tutoring two nights a week, celebrations, picnics, a Facebook group, a clinical social worker, academic counselor and financial advisers. It’s like nurturing a family.”
You can find Frankenstein’s monster at many Halloween parties, but only at Night of the Living Humanities will he mingle with the likes of Socrates, Sojourner Truth, and Susan B. Anthony. On Oct. 25, the Odyssey Project’s annual fundraiser encouraged attendees to dress up as political, artistic, and literary figures who play a part in the program’s two-semester humanities course.
The UW Odyssey Project, an award-winning jump-start program in the humanities for adults overcoming adversity, sponsored a contest for the best short essay convincing non-voters to vote. This article contains excerpts from 15 participants, both current and former students.
“Derrick was someone who didn’t even know his own gifts, but who found his voice and recognized his own power in the course,” Auerbach says. “When people explore works of art, they see themselves and the world in new ways, and their lives change.”
The Odyssey Project helps create an opportunity for people who had given up on or been forced to avoid pursuing higher education.
The greater Madison community is invited to attend the inspiring and memorable graduation ceremony for students of the UW Odyssey Project class of 2018 on May 2 at the Great Hall of Memorial Union that will feature guest speaker Judge Everett Mitchell.
A look at the impact the partnership is having on the community.
In 2008 Sherri Bester graduated from the Odyssey Project, University of Wisconsin-Madison’s two-semester humanities course for adults facing obstacles to a college education. That achievement inspired her daughter Keziah, who participated in a related program for kids called Odyssey Junior in 2015-16.
It is both a physical space and a broader philosophy, one rooted in building relationships — connecting UW–Madison with an area whose residents historically have had less access to the university.
“I want to learn more, I want to
listen more, I want to grow more,” writes Bruce Moore as he completes this year’s two semester Odyssey Project.
“I wish cancer got cancer and died.” This was Tandalaya Taylor’s seven-word poem for a class assignment through the Odyssey Project at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
January 24, 2018
Emily Vander Velden will help low-income adults overcome obstacles to higher education.
October 18, 2017
With only a high school education, one participant found that many doors were closed to her. Now, with Odyssey by her side, they are starting to open.
June 26, 2017
Josephine Lorya, a refugee from South Sudan, obtained her master’s degree at UW-Madison, thanks to the Odyssey Project’s life-long commitment to its students.
March 20, 2017
They enrich the Odyssey class with their varied perspectives, just as multicultural newcomers have always enriched America.
FEBRUARY 23, 2017
From Isthmus, this cover story explores how the Odyssey Project proves that the humanities can change destinies.
Oct 21, 2016
Emily Auerbach is recognized on the “M List” among innovative mentors and teachers who are creatively helping others to excel in the workplace or in school.
May 3, 2016
Channel 3000 Editorial Director Neil Heinen shares his support for the UW Madison Odyssey
Project as one of Madison’s most successful programs addressing racial disparities.
From Berea College Magazine, learn about the Odyssey Project’s Emily Auerbach and how her parents’ experience at Berea inspired her to found the Odyssey Project.
Feb 3, 2016
From The Capital Times, this cover story featuring an Odyssey alumna examines how low-income students overcome hunger, homeless and other obstacles to pursue higher education.
“Why would poor people want to read Plato?” a local reporter once asked Dr. Auerbach. To understand their motivation, one needs to hear the stories of Emily’s parents.
December 19, 2015
Odyssey student, Keena Atkinson went from sleeping in her car to graduating from UW-Madison in just six years.
March 30, 2015
NBC15 news anchor Leigh Mills interviews Emily Auerbach and Qu’Anna Caffey, a participant in the new Odyssey Junior program.
March 20, 2013
From Madison Magazine, this cover story by the Odyssey Project’s Emily Auerbach explores the lives changed by one college course.
March 19, 2013
Odyssey’s Emily Auerbach awarded as Lady Godiva “Inspirational Woman” Honoree for her service.
April 25, 2012
From the Huffington Post, Odyssey guest and author Doug Bradley explores the impact of the Odyssey Project.