Odyssey grads

Odyssey’s 20th Anniversary

The 2022-2023 academic year is the official 20th anniversary of the UW Odyssey Project, and we have enjoyed some impactful events to mark this special year! We are thrilled to be taking this time to celebrate the incredible students, staff, donors, sponsors, and community members that have made the past 20 years possible. Odyssey has grown tremendously since its inception in 2003, and we are all excited to see what Odyssey’s future has in store. Please scroll down to view recaps and photos from a few of our 20th anniversary events!

Thank you to our 20th anniversary presenting sponsor, American Family Insurance. We’d also like to thank our event sponsors and partners, CUNA Mutual Group, Madison Gas and Electric, Summit Credit Union, Custer Burish Financial Services, UW Credit Union, A Fund for Women, American Players Theatre (APT), Strand Associates and Dane Arts, for helping with funding for the below events and more! If you’d like to support the program as we venture on in transforming lives and helping students unwrap their gifts, please visit our Support page below.

Support the UW Odyssey Project

Odyssey Class of 2023 Graduation Ceremony (May 3)

Thank you so much to those of you that were able to join us either in person or via Zoom as we celebrated the incredible and resilient UW Odyssey Project Class of 2023 on May 3! The evening began with moving words from Dean Jeffrey Russell and Odyssey Director of Adult Education, Kevin Mullen. Then each student took the spotlight, sharing inspiring stories and  powerful words at the podium before receiving an Odyssey certificate. It was wonderful to have students, family, and friends together in Great Hall cheering one another on. If you were unable to join us, please see below for a link to view video excerpts from the ceremony, the beautiful photos captured by Odyssey alum Hedi Rudd, and the 2023 graduation Oracle! Special thanks to our graduation sponsors, including American Family Insurance, CUNA Mutual Group, Custer Burish Financial Services, Madison Gas and Electric, Strand Associates, Summit Credit Union, and UW Credit Union.

Odyssey Class of 2023 Graduation


Celebrating 20 years of Odyssey (April 20)

Thank you to everyone who joined us in celebrating Odyssey’s 20 years of life-changing impact at our Chazen anniversary event! Guests enjoyed appetizers, drinks, and music by Kinfolk (featuring Odyssey alumni) as they mingled in the Chazen lobby and explored the museum. The program consisted of opening remarks by Chancellor Mnookin, who said, “There is no more perfect example of the Wisconsin Idea than Odyssey.” Guests were also treated to comments from Odyssey champions such as the Honorable Judge Everett Mitchell and Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway (who declared April 20 “Odyssey Day!”). The program closed with inspiring remarks from extraordinary Odyssey alumni spanning two decades of our program, and supporters wiped away tears as they spoke. “Everybody in here is a seed. If you know anything about seeds, they have everything that they need inside of them to become whatever they’re going to become. They just need to be put in the right environment,” said Anthony Ward, Odyssey class of ‘04, who recently earned his UW master’s degree. “Odyssey was that environment for me.”

Special thanks to the sponsors who made this event possible, including American Family Insurance, CUNA Mutual Group, Custer Burish Financial Services, Madison Gas and Electric, Summit Credit Union, and UW Credit Union.

Click below to see highlights from the celebration!

View our 20th Anniversary Slideshow

View photos from the event

Read event Coverage from Madison 365

Odyssey Holiday Bazaar (December 3)

Many Odyssey students create handmade items such as jewelry, books, notecards, cookbooks, soap, and musical instruments. Attendees were able to start their holiday shopping early, support Odyssey artists and entrepreneurs, meet staff and students, and visit our new Odyssey space by attending our Odyssey Holiday Bazaar! We’d like to thank our event sponsor, A Fund for Women, for making this event possible.

Odyssey crafts

20 Years of Amplifying Odyssey Voices and Celebrating Voting (October 12)

Thanks for joining us in person or via Zoom to celebrate Odyssey’s 20 years of empowering students to find their voices and change the world. The powerful evening featured Odyssey student and alumni readings, a new film, and refreshments. We’d like to thank our event sponsors Madison Gas and Electric and Summit Credit Union for making this event possible.

This evening also served as our biennial “Why Vote?” event. Once again, we partnered with the League of Women Voters, the Madison Public Library, the Urban League, and the Cap Times to encourage our students and the community to vote. We must continue to cheer for democracy (and for the winners of our Why Vote contest) at a time when enfranchising marginalized communities seems more important than ever.


A Raisin in the Sun (September 18)

“Just tell me where you want to go to school and you’ll go. Just tell me what it is you want to be—and you’ll BE it. Whatever you want to be—Yessir! You just name it, son, and I hand you the world!”—Walter in A Raisin in the Sun

For all 20 years of Odyssey’s history, Odyssey students have acted out scenes from Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, the groundbreaking story of one Black family’s struggle on the southside of Chicago to achieve their dreams. Thanks to our partnership with American Players Theatre (APT), American Family Insurance Dreams Foundation, and Dane Arts, we brought 100 Odyssey students to see a performance of the play for free, including a pre-show picnic dinner and engaging conversation with APT core company member Gavin Lawrence about his iconic role as Walter Lee.

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A Raisin in the Sun

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