That, in a nutshell, is what The Posse Foundation is all about. In this enlightening interview, Deborah Bial, Founder/President will discuss the triumphs and challenges of running this highly-regarded nationwide program.
A. Posse began in 1989 because of a student who said, "I never would have dropped out of college if I had my posse with me."
This simple idea became the basis for a national program that today supports urban youth with exceptional promise and potential for leadership. The foundation extends to these students the opportunity to pursue personal and academic excellence by placing them in supportive, multicultural teams -- "Posses" of 10 students. The Foundation's partner colleges and universities award Posse Scholars four-year, full-tuition leadership scholarships.
Posse recruits students from nine cities: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, D.C., Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans and New York.
The Posse Foundation has three goals: 1) to broaden 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 they can become more welcoming for people from all backgrounds, and 3) to ensure that Posse Scholars persist in their academic studies and graduate ready to take on leadership positions in the workforce.
Q2. How many students apply, on average, for the program nationwide and in the NY area?
A. This year Posse received close to 15,000 nominations for 640 scholarship slots. In New York City alone, Posse received roughly 3,500 nominations for 150 scholarship slots.
Q3. How would you describe a student with "extraordinary academic and leadership potential?" What has he/she done?
A. The Posse Foundation picks outstanding leaders -- young people who are motivated and ambitious and who have exhibited leadership in the classroom or in their community.
Q4. On average, what is the percentage of "Posse" teams staying together to complete their college education?
A. Posse Scholars persist and graduate at a rate of 90 percent -- a rate much higher than the national average!
A. Posse students experience some of the same challenges any college student might face. However, they have the benefit of their Posse peers and their mentors.
Q6. There's been some criticism that Posse members are not majoring in the "hard sciences" and the like. Your take?
A. Posse Scholars pursue a wide variety of majors -- from philosophy to physics, English to engineering. That said, The Posse Foundation believes that a brighter future for our country will depend in part on our ability to increase the number of individuals entering science fields -- as scientific and technological innovation are inextricably linked to our national health, security and global competitiveness.
As a result, in addition to its regular program, the Foundation has developed a specialized STEM program to recruit, train and support Posse Scholars specifically in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. The program now recruits five STEM-focused Posses each year and will eventually expand to recruit 100 STEM Scholars annually.
A. Posse Scholars must be nominated in order to be considered for the Posse
Scholarship. I suggest that interested parents encourage their child to talk with their guidance counselor or a representative from a community-based organization (CBO) they are involved with and let her or him know of their interest in being nominated for the Posse Scholarship.
Each public high school and CBO in the nine cities Posse recruits from is allotted a
finite number of scholarship slots. Ultimately, the decision to nominate a student is at the discretion of the high school or CBO.
Q8. Having been around for nearly 25 years, what educational trends and challenges does The Posse Foundation see moving forward?
A. The United States is becoming an increasingly multicultural society. Posse
believes that the leaders of this new century should reflect the country's rich demographic mix and that 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.
Continuing to expand access to higher education for underrepresented communities will play a huge role in addressing this need. By developing more partnerships with
outstanding colleges and universities and connecting them to dynamic urban students, The Posse Foundation hopes to help ensure that our country's diversity is reflected at the highest levels in the workforce.
If you know of someone who would be a perfect candidate to receive a scholarship from The Posse Foundation, please visit their website at http://www.possefoundation.org/ to learn
more about the nomination process.
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