odyssey title

Overcoming adversity and achieving dreams through higher educationPicure of wisconsin odyssey graduate

The epitome of the Wisconsin Idea, the UW Odyssey Project is a community-university partnership that offers a free, six-credit humanities program to adults in South Madison. These adults live near the poverty level and have encountered barriers to education including homelessness, teen parenthood, incarceration, disability, and domestic abuse.

Thanks to our partners and donors, students receive free instruction, childcare, meals, and textbooks, as well as crucial emotional and financial support. In nine years, the Odyssey Project has taught more than 270 students ages 18-70; more than two thirds of our graduates continue their education and earn degrees from UW-Madison and other institutions. Many have also inspired families and friends to pursue further education.

Both students and faculty claim Odyssey is life-changing, and students relish giving back to their community through jobs as police officers, nurses, and teachers. Visit the Odyssey website here.

Contact Us

Emily Auerbach, director, 608-262-3733, emily.auerbach@wisc.edu.

Faculty Presenter

Emily Auerbach, English professor and director, Odyssey Project, UW-Madison Continuing Studies.



Campus Partners

Chazen Museum of Art
College of Letters & Sciences, English Dept. and Learning Support Services
Continuing Studies
Office of Child Care and Family Resources
UW Anonymous Fund
UW faculty and staff: Craig Werner (Afro-American Studies, ILS), Gene Phillips (Art History), Jean Feraca (WPR), Marshall Cook, Diane Dennis and Kegan Carter (Continuing Studies)

Community Partners

Business Forum
Dane County Parent Council
Foundations: Evjue, Caritas, Herzfeld, and others
Goodman South Madison Branch Library
Michael Best & Friedrich Law Firm
Others: churches, businesses, book clubs, service groups, and individuals
Service Clubs: AAUW, University League, PEO, Kiwanis, Breakfast Rotary, etc.
Wisconsin Humanities Council


“I hope my journey from homelessness to graduation from the UW-Madison will show everybody else that they can do it too.”—Kegan Carter (Odyssey ’04; UW '09)