Grant of $300,000 to Fund College Courses for Incarcerated Students


May 7, 2021

by Oscar Rennebohm Foundation

The UW-Madison’s Odyssey Project has received a $300,000 grant from the Oscar Rennebohm Foundation to fund its Odyssey Beyond Bars program, which offers college courses to Wisconsin prison inmates.

The grant will be distributed over the course of three years to fund a new project that will offer introductory college courses in English to students not yet enrolled in credential-granting classes.

“As someone working in Wisconsin’s criminal justice system for 37 years, I believe Odyssey Beyond Bars’ early results in providing a college ‘jump-start’ to incarcerated students have been impressive,” says retired Madison Chief of Police Noble Wray, “In my view, the news that they will be able to extend this innovative reentry initiative means that more incarcerated individuals could have a greater chance of success when they return to society.”

The initiative began teaching students beginning in 2015, and has since offered a for-credit UW-Madison course in a prison for the first time in a century, and enrolls 110 incarcerated students per year. These courses help prepare students for post-secondary programs and reentry into society.

Odyssey Behind Bars is part of the larger Odyssey program, which has been providing educational opportunities and support for underserved children and adults. It celebrates its 18th year in 2021.


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