University of Wisconsin–Madison
A diverse group of more than 25 educators and community leaders participate in a session to write, reflect and build curriculum during the Hip-Hop in the Heartland

Our Programs

OMAI PerformanceThe Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives (OMAI) provides culturally relevant and transformative arts programming to promote positive social dialogue and to give cultural art forms a legitimate academic forum. By harnessing the broad cultural influence of spoken word, hip hop and emerging as well as traditional art forms, OMAI initiatives create learning environments that improve retention and graduation success and prepares future leaders to reinvest in their communities. By continually refreshing this paradigm that integrates traditional academics and cutting edge arts activism, OMAI empowers transnational leaders with new tools for inclusive community building Founded in 2005, OMAI is a unit of the Office of the Vice Provost/Division of Diversity, Equity and Educational Achievement at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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 .