Editorial: UW’s Odyssey Project – Changing Lives

A path out of poverty.
Editorial: UW’s Odyssey Project – Changing Lives



For ten years now, the Odyssey Project at UW Madison has been providing an entry to a college education – and a way out of poverty – to some unlikely students through an unlikely course. The students are primarily people of color with backgrounds including homelessness, drug and alcohol abuse, and prison. For two semesters these economically challenged students, ranging in age from 20 to 60, study the humanities and arts in a free class. So far 15 students have gone on to complete a two or four year college degree. Four have been accepted to graduate school. For scores of others, their lives have been transformed.

There’s a lot about the structure of the Odyssey Project that works. But there is no mistaking the importance of the tenacity, courage and wisdom of UW Madison Professor Emily Auerbach who founded and runs the project and whose own parents came out of poverty as a result of education. There’s a celebration Thursday evening at the Chazen Museum. We couldn’t be prouder of the project, Professor Auerbach, and her amazing students.