First Wave

Educators and community leaders improvise on stage with hip-hop musicians during an evening performance at Van Vleck Hall.

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The First Wave Spoken Word and Hip Hop 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 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 hip hop artists on full-tuition scholarship in the First Wave Program. In the years since, First Wave students have introduced a variety of campus events, including the Line Breaks Festival, the Passing the Mic Festival, and monthly Just Bust! open-mic sessions.

Sweet Memories for First Wave’s Inaugural Class