Mission &History

Bucknell Posse 4 Boston

Bucknell Posse 4 Boston

“I never would’ve dropped out of college if I’d had my posse with me.”


The Posse model works for both students and college campuses and is rooted in the belief that a small, diverse group of talented students—a Posse—carefully selected and trained, can serve as a catalyst for individual and community development. As the United States becomes an increasingly multicultural society, Posse believes that the leaders of the 21st century should reflect the country’s rich demographic mix. The key to a promising future for our nation rests on the ability of strong leaders from diverse backgrounds to develop consensus solutions to complex social problems. Posse’s primary aim is to train these leaders of tomorrow.

Three Goals

  1. To expand the pool from which top colleges and universities can recruit outstanding young leaders from diverse backgrounds.
  2. To help these institutions build more interactive campus environments so that they can be more welcoming for people from all backgrounds.
  3. To ensure that Posse Scholars persist in their academic studies and graduate so they can take on leadership positions in the workforce.


Posse was founded in 1989 because of one student who said, “I never would’ve dropped out of college if I’d had my posse with me.” The simple idea of sending a group of students together to college so they could “back each other up” became the impetus for a program that today has identified, recruited and trained more than 10,000 students with extraordinary academic and leadership potential.

“As the original Posse partner, Vanderbilt has proudly shared the Foundation’s mission of empowering student leaders to reach their potential.”

Nicholas S. Zeppos, Chancellor, Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt University was the first school to partner with Posse, awarding scholarships to five students from New York City. Since then, the program has expanded to 20-plus cities. Posse Scholars have won more than $1.8 billion in scholarships from our partners, which now include 64 selective institutions of higher education.

Posse Scholars are engaged members of their campus communities and graduate at a rate of 90 percent.

The program has been recognized as one of the most comprehensive college success and leadership development initiatives in the country. Posse President and Founder Deborah Bial was awarded a 2007 MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship. In 2010, President Barack Obama honored Posse with a portion of his Nobel Peace Prize grant.

Watch: Posse Celebrates Vanderbilt University

Young students in an activity
Posse’s program components help Scholars succeed.
Learn about the Posse program

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