When I hear the word “posse,” I do not automatically think of an elite group of students at some of the most respected educational institutions in the country. However, thanks to a group called the Posse Foundation, this term might become synonymous for these students.
Posse Foundation was founded in 1989 by Deborah Bial when a student from an inner-city school told her, “I never would have dropped out of college if I had my posse with me.”
What is the Posse Foundation? The organization helps students who attend inner-city high schools and who are strong leaders, but lack the guidance or support to succeed in high school. The Posse Foundation recruits students from seven major U.S. cities and has partnered with elite schools, such as Vanderbilt University and the University of California at Berkeley.
How does the process work? Well, it starts in high school. Students who are planning to attend the same school are placed in posses of ten students that meet on a regular basis. The goal is to provide an atmosphere where students can form strong friendships and bonds that will help them adjust to college life.
And evidently, the program is working. Augusta Irele, a member of a posse at Bryn Mawr, a private woman’s university, said: “I have this incredible sense that I can succeed and take on whatever I want at school because I have this intensely supportive network behind me who believes in my potential.”
Posse members are not the only ones who are benefiting from this program.
“The scholars have really energized the environment at Bryn Mawr, really creating a culture that is more inclusive,” Jenny Rickard, a Bryn Mawr administrator said. Rickard also said that these students are active on campus and have, on average, higher graduation rates than the rest of the student body.
I know from personal experience that my posse at college has made school a much better experience for all of us. When I ended a two-year relationship, my friends were there for me. When one friend was voted top student in her class, we all celebrated together. When another friend didn’t get accepted to a study abroad program, we all watched foreign films together.
The Posse Foundation is helping students from similar backgrounds make these kinds of bonds at schools that can be very different from the world they are used to. It supports students as they create lasting bonds of friendship and develop leadership skills.
Perhaps Posse Foundation founder Bial said it best:
“We’re creating a new kind of leadership network in the United States. It’s not a good-old-boys network, it’s not the Greek system. You’ve got young people who represent the real diversity of this country.”
Via The Associated Press