Making a movement: Office of Multicultural Initiatives

Vocalizing through hip-hop and spoken word
Making a movement: Office of Multicultural Initiatives
Willie Ney

Celebrating its ten-year anniversary this fall, the Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives has created a ripple effect throughout the hip-hop arts and spoken word community.

First Wave is a multicultural art scholarship program that has three primary tenants: academics, arts and activism. Willie Ney created the program because he saw a need for the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s community to represent the nation and give students an opportunity to change the world while getting a world-class education. First-year students in the program participate in a bridge program over the summer, take courses and live together in a residence hall. They have been instrumental in leading social justice-related initiatives and activism and have spread the Black Lives Matter movement across campus and started a nonprofit organization. The program relies heavily on local partnerships including the Justified Anger group, the Wisconsin Book Festival, Overture Center, 100state and other community and campus organizations.

What is social innovation?

According to Stanford University’s Social Innovation Review, social innovation is a “novel solution to a social problem that is more effective, efficient, sustainable or just than existing solutions” and benefits primarily society as a whole rather than private individuals.

It includes these elements:

Increasing employment, productivity and economic growth

Justice, fairness, environmental preservation, improved health, arts and culture and better education

A social innovation:

Can be a product, production process or technology (much like innovation in general), but it can also be a principle, an idea, a piece of legislation, a social movement, an intervention or some combination of them.

Recognizes the fundamental role of cross-sector dynamics: exchanging ideas and values, shifting roles and relationships and blending public, philanthropic and private resources. Innovation blossoms where the sectors converge.

Can’t be understood, let alone solved, without involving the nonprofit, public and private sectors.

The M List
Madison Magazine‘s M List is a who’s who of organizations and individuals who are having an impact on our local culture and economy. In its third year, the M List recognizes those making strides in the area of social innovation. Last year’s list of innovators were in the food industry. The original M List, in 2013, honored the technology sector. The 2014 M List honored “Foodtastic” entrepreneurs and innovators.

Click here to return to the 2015 M List.