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First Wave

The First Wave Hip Hop and Urban Arts Learning Community is a cutting-edge multicultural artistic program for incoming students at 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 2007 Semester and currently there are sixty spoken word and hip hop artists on full-tuition scholarship or that have graduated from the First Wave Program. We are currently looking for the next group of motivated students to join the First Wave Learning Community’s 9th Cohort in 2015!   Imagine bringing your experiences and talents to the table. You will work with the top, talented peers from across the country to create artistic works that cross disciplines, and push your craft to a whole new level.

  • 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
  Click here to download the First Wave Brochure