Spring 2014| Posse National Newsletter


Posse Celebrates 25 Years of Success

The idea was simple. Send dynamic urban students to college in teams; support them with scholarships, training, and mentorship; and watch them graduate at high rates and go on to become leaders in the workforce.

Inspired by a student who said, “I never would have dropped out of college if I had my posse with me,” that simple idea has repeatedly proven its merits over the course of The Posse Foundation’s history. Posse Scholars lead on campus, persist and graduate at exceptionally high rates, and steadily climb the ranks in their chosen careers after graduation.

This year, The Posse Foundation celebrates 25 years of successfully connecting talented public high school students to top-tier colleges and universities around the country.

“It’s thrilling to see a program that started in a small office with just one computer become a national movement,” says Posse President and Founder Deborah Bial. “There was just one Posse and one partner university back then. But today there are thousands of Scholars and alumni ascending to leadership positions in every industry—and incredible, dedicated staff, board members and supporters. It’s powerful.”

Posse began in New York City with five students and one partner school, Vanderbilt University. Over the years the program has grown into a national initiative with chapters in nine cities: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Miami, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, and Washington, D.C. To date, Posse has identified, trained and supported more than 5,500 students. These students have won a combined $687 million in full-tuition four-year scholarships from Posse’s elite partner institutions, which today number 51.

With a well-earned reputation for campus activism, Posse Scholars are not only succeeding in the classroom—Scholars persist and graduate at a rate of 90 percent—but also helping to foster integrated diversity at some of the country’s most selective institutions of higher education. A recent survey showed that 79 percent of Posse alumni report holding an official leadership position in a student-run organization during their college career.

The Posse program has also grown to include special initiatives. In 2006, Posse developed a STEM initiative to recruit and support public high school students interested in pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering or math. Today, the Posse STEM Program includes 10 partner colleges and universities who will enroll more than 500 STEM Scholars over the next five years—a commitment of more than $70 million in scholarships.

In addition, The Posse Veterans Program launched in 2012 to support the educational aspirations of post-9/11 U.S. military veterans. Vassar College and Wesleyan University are current partners for this initiative.

Since opening its doors a quarter century ago, The Posse Foundation has maintained a commitment to three goals: broadening the pool from which the top schools select students; fostering diverse campus communities; and supporting Posse Scholars so that they graduate and go on to become leaders in the workforce. The past 25 years have been characterized by remarkable progress towards each of these goals and have reinforced the critical importance of the work that lies ahead.

View other stories in the Posse National Quarterly