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Posse Foundation: Strength in numbers

Posted by Apr 26th, 2011.

This post was submitted by Rassan Salandy, vice president for external affairs at The Posse Foundation. He spoke at the April 26 What Matters and What Counts in Education monthly breakfast series.

The United States is becoming an increasingly multicultural society. The U.S. Census Bureau projects that by 2042, America’s ethnic minorities will outnumber non-Hispanic whites. These changing demographics, however, are not yet reflected in our institutions of higher education. This discrepancy is especially pronounced at many of the most selective colleges and universities, which act as gateways to leadership opportunities in the workplace.

The primary goal of The Posse Foundation—one of the most comprehensive college access and youth leadership development programs in the country—is to create a new leadership network in the workforce that will truly represent the nation’s rich diversity.

Posse started in 1989 in New York City because of one student who said, “I never would have dropped out of college if I’d had my posse with me.” That simple idea of sending a group of students to college together to act as a support system for one another was the impetus for a program that to date has sent more than 3,600 urban public high school students to selective colleges and universities across the country in multicultural teams called “Posses.” These students have won over $400 million dollars in full-tuition, leadership scholarships from Posse’s partner colleges and institutions and are graduating at a rate of 90 percent—nearly double the national average.

The Posse Foundation has 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 become more welcoming for people from all backgrounds, and 3) to ensure that Posse Scholars persist in their academic studies and graduate so they can take on leadership positions in the workforce.

Posse achieves its goals through five program components:

  • Recruitment
  • Pre-Collegiate Training
  • Campus Program
  • Career Program
  • Posse Access

Posse currently operates chapters in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and Washington, D.C., and has 39 college and university partners, including Vanderbilt University, Middlebury College, Brandeis University and UC Berkeley. Most important, Posse has 1,500 Alumni who are assuming positions of leadership in the workplace.

Posse is built around the simple idea that driven, academically capable public high school students stand a better chance of thriving at elite colleges and universities when they attend together in teams, or Posses. Through its unique screening process, the foundation is able to illuminate these young student leaders. This combined with Posse’s comprehensive support program ensures that Posse Scholars excel and graduate.

In partnership with a growing group of outstanding colleges, universities and corporate partners, the Posse Foundation is working to develop a new kind of leadership network in the United States—one that will better represent the nation’s shifting demographics at the tables where decisions are made.

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