First Wave


Now recruiting for the 10th Cohort, beginning Fall 2016!



The First Wave Hip Hop and Urban Arts Learning Community is a cutting-edge multicultural artistic program for incoming students which offers a four-year full tuition scholarship to the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Bringing together young artists and leaders from across the U.S and beyond, the First Wave Learning Community offers students the opportunity to live, study and create together in a close-knit, dynamic campus community. Administered by the Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives (OMAI), the First Wave Learning Community is the first university program in the country centered on urban arts, spoken word and hip-hop culture.

The inaugural First Wave cohort of fifteen students began their UW-Madison career in the Fall of 2007 and there are over one hundred spoken word and hip hop artists currently on full-tuition scholarship at UW-Madison, or alumni of First Wave Program. We are currently looking for the next group of talented and motivated students to join the First Wave Learning Community’s 9th Cohort in 2015!   Imagine bringing your experiences and talents to the table while receiving a world-class education! You will work with the top, talented peers from across the country to create artistic works that cross disciplines, push your craft to a whole new level, all the while taking advantage of the nearly 140 undergraduate majors offered at UW-Madison!


  • First Wave students have performed on BET, at the National Battle of the Bands, on Broadway and across the world.
  • First Wave students and Alumni have received jobs and internships from the United States Embassy, The New York Knicks, Harlem Children’s Zone, Teach For America, Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam, and many more groundbreaking institutions.
  • First Wave students have swag. Some students have their own clothing lines and one student, Jasmine Mans, is the poet representative for Ralph Lauren.
  • First Wave students are published authors, nationally renowned and internationally ranked poets, rappers making noise on the underground, community organizers, and so much more. Blogs from First Wave students abroad: Michael in Australia: From Tomorrows, Camea in Ghana: Camea Osborn, Leslie in Portugal and Brazil: Thus Far In Life .


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