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Scholars seek a future of leadership

March 16, 2015 8:45 AM
Benton Oliver
It"s no secret that the political leaders of the United States are an overwhelmingly homogeneous bunch — the vast majority of Congress is, and has been, since the founding of this country, white, male and Christian. As America"s racial and religious make-up changes, however, shouldn"t the demographics of America"s leadership change as well?

Deborah Bial, who founded the Posse Foundation in 1989, had just this thought. If more diversity were introduced into institutions of higher learning now, more diversity will exist in top-level decision-making positions in the future — not only in politics, but also in business, education and other fields.

The Posse Foundation identifies and assists high-performing, multicultural, urban, mostly public school teens in going to college. It is neither a minority nor need-based scholarship, however. Students are nominated by their schools based on exemplary academics and demonstration of leadership abilities, and if chosen by the Posse Foundation, they receive full-tuition scholarships to one of Posse"s partner universities.

What makes the Posse Foundation unique is that it does not simply send its scholars to college alone with a full ride and no support network. Instead, the foundation puts together groups of 10 to 12 students — “posses” — and sends them to school together, where they have a faculty mentor and an eight-month series of workshops during their first year.

Tulane University has collaborated with the Posse Foundation since 2009, receiving a Posse from Los Angeles annually. Since 2012, Tulane also has accepted a New Orleans Posse each year.

“It takes money, resources and dedication to make [Posse] work, but over the last six years Tulane and Posse have proven that underserved kids from urban communities can survive and thrive in a competitive university environment,” said Earl Retif, Tulane University vice president of enrollment management and registrar.

Take a look at the infographic below to see the Posse program at Tulane by the numbers.

Benton Oliver is a senior at Tulane University majoring in music, communication and German.

Posse by the numbers