In 1989 Deborah Bial founded the Posse Foundation with the intention of recruiting public school students with proven leadership qualities to form multicultural groups of about a dozen individuals known as “Posses.” These groups then enter an eight month long Pre-Collegiate Training Program which aids them in pursuing their academic dreams of eventually enrolling in a prestigious university. The students chosen to participate in the Posses are from diverse backgrounds and, in addition to helping the students get into the colleges of their choice, the Posse Foundation hopes to help foster cross-cultural communication on university campuses. The foundation aims to create a larger pool of students from different backgrounds that colleges can then choose from, and eventually to help the selected students take leadership roles after graduation. By helping these student leaders get accepted into prestigious universities the Posse Foundation also helps the campuses become more open and accepting of students from diverse backgrounds. The Posse Foundation is headquartered in New York City and also serves the Bay Area, Boston, Atlanta, Washington D.C., New Orleans, Miami, Chicago, and Houston. For more than two decades the Posse Foundation has helped student leaders find their way to major universities. More than 3,100 students have been accepted into college thanks to the foundation and have received more than 329 million dollars in scholarships. The prestigious foundation has earned its founder Deborah Bial the 2007 MacArthur Fellowship, also known as the genius award, and received a large donation from President Barack Obama that was part of the 1.4 million dollar award he received for his Nobel Peace Prize.
Students are accepted into the Posse Foundation after being nominated by a teacher or community organization who have noticed leadership qualities in the student. Nominations are typically made before the start of the school year and can be submitted through the foundation’s website. A prospective student must be a senior in a public high school in one of the areas served by the Posse Foundation and must have proven academic potential to succeed at a university. Members of the Posse Foundation then use a unique evaluation system known as the Dynamic Assessment Process, or DAP, which accurately determines a student’s teamwork skills, innate leadership qualities, motivation, and their drive to succeed. The selection process is from September through August. Selected students then take part in the Pre-Collegiate Training Program which runs from January through August and consists of weekly two-hour meetings with campus liaisons, Posse scholars, and Posse team members. Partner universities then award merit-based academic scholarship to students. In 2016 in New York alone, 133 Posse students were awarded full tuition scholarships. Every year Posse Scholars run the Posse Plus Retreat which brings together students and faculty to discuss important campus issues including sexuality, diversity, education, social responsibility, and more. In addition to receiving tuition money, Posse scholars are given the opportunity to be an immediate connected part of their campus which is growing more multi-cultural every year thanks to the contributions of the Posse Foundation and the student leaders it helps.