Image of 3 pillars

Academics | Arts | Activism


To provide innovative, culturally relevant hip-hop art programs to inspire engagement, learning, and activism for diverse communities.

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.


  • International tours to: London, England/Manchester, England/Corby, England/Kingston, Jamaica/Panama City, Panama/Cuernavaca, Mexico

  • The 9th cohort has First Wave’s first international student (from China)! 

  • Over 40% of all First Wave students have already studied abroad in a multitude of countries. This includes study of film in Paris and cultural learning activities in Rio de Janeiro.
  • First Wave students are published authors, nationally renowned and internationally ranked poets, rappers making noise on the underground, and community organizers. 

  • First Wave students and Alumni have received jobs and internships from the United States Embassy, The New York Knicks, Teach For America, Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam, and many more groundbreaking institutions.



Christian's Album Image


First Wave Presents:

Join us for Madison’s longest running all-ages open mic, Just Bust!, every first Friday of the month in the Red Gym On Wisconsin Room  (716 Langdon St. 1st Floor) from 9:00pm-11:00pm.

 Just Bust Calendar Front Page

First Wave 9th Cohort group photo