Strength in Numbers


The Posse Foundation helps groups of go-getters tap into their true academic potential.

I never would have dropped out if I had my posse with me.
Posse Foundation president Deborah Bial

The college dropout’s words moved Deborah Bial, then a recent graduate of Brandeis University focusing on inner-city youth leadership programs in New York City. Inspired, she considered the potential that could arise from sending a team of peers to college.
At 23, Bial formed The Posse Foundation to help groups of urban students combat the culture shock that often comes with attending a university. “When you have a posse,” she says, “you have a built-in support system.” Since its establishment in 1989, the nonprofit organization has received approximately $1 billion in scholarships to send teams of 10 students to 57 partner colleges and universities. Called Posse Scholars, these students graduate at a rate of 90 percent. 

Currently, The Posse Foundation recruits from 10 metropolitan areas to identify students with academic and leadership potential: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. “We’re looking for the kid who you can imagine at 17 one day becoming a state senator, or a Fortune 500 company CEO, or an entrepreneur, or the president of a university,” says Bial, a 2007 MacArthur Fellow.

Working with Posse Atlanta, the Subaru of America Foundation has provided program operating support to foster high-achievers like Harvin Vallabhaneni. “It defined me,” says Vallabhaneni, a Boston University graduate, of his college experience with Posse Atlanta. “When I introduced myself, I was Harvin, an engineering student and a Posse Scholar.” 

Vallabhaneni says that, in a school as large as Boston University, his Posse Atlanta cohort ensured that he never felt like a number. “There’s not a whole lot of things that remain constant in college – friends come and go, majors change – but our Posse was the rock we always had.” 

Learn more about The Posse Foundation 

Posse Atlanta alumnus and Boston University graduate Harvin Vallabhaneni
Posse Atlanta alumnus and Boston University graduate Harvin Vallabhaneni