The Posse Foundation

week 32: this week i'm gonna... help students go to college

Jacqueline Garcia

Jacqueline Garcia

Growing up in Compton, Jacqueline Garcia was determined to make her parents proud and to be a role model for her younger siblings. She became very involved with academics, summer internships, and sports to strengthen her college application.

“As an undocumented student, I didn’t feel at first that I could go to college,” says Jackie. “The dropout rate of my high school was huge. I pushed myself to apply for The Posse Foundation, and in every interview I felt like I accomplished something for myself.”

Now a sophomore at the University of California, Berkeley, on a four-year scholarship from The Posse Foundation, Jackie is a research apprentice at the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS). She is exploring the connections between her two passions - computer science and social justice - and is part of a team at CITRIS that is developing a software platform called AppCivisit that will help activists collaborate to report issues, propose solutions, and evaluate proposals for collective action.

Jackie was also selected as a student fellow for Berkeley’s UndocuAlly program, which supports undocumented students and helps raise awareness about the issues they face. Surrounded by her "posse" of 9 students at Berkeley who are also sponsored by The Posse Foundation, Jackie has learned the value of having a support system.

“I’m looking forward to working with people who are interested in having some sort of social impact,” says Jackie. “I want to combine technology and education, especially to provide more access to underrepresented students. I’m hoping to bring more Latinos into computer science.”

Founded in 1989, The Posse Foundation was started because of one student who said, “I never would have dropped out of college if I had my posse with me.” The Posse Foundation identifies urban public high school students with extraordinary academic and leadership potential who may be overlooked by traditional college selection processes. They extend to these students the opportunity to pursue personal and academic excellence by placing them in supportive, multicultural teams - Posses - of 10 students. They then partner with top colleges and universities, who award Posse Scholars four-year, full-tuition leadership scholarships.

The Posse Foundation has become one of the most comprehensive and renowned college access and youth leadership development programs in the U.S. and has chapters in 10 cities. Over the past 27 years, Posse partner colleges and universities have awarded an incredible $932 million in leadership scholarships to approximately 7,000 students, who persist and graduate from college at a 90% rate (far above the national average). 

The Foundation operates with 3 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 be more welcoming for people from all backgrounds.
  3. To ensure that Posse Scholars persist in their academic studies and graduate so they can take on leadership positions in the workforce.

Recently, The Posse Foundation launched two initiatives to help expand its impact and address two critical challenges in the U.S.: the under-representation of women and people of color in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), and the under-representation of veterans in top colleges.

The Posse Foundation is also focused on helping veterans attend college. With the all-volunteer military, enlisted men and women often have not attended college, and when they consider pursuing a college degree, they frequently turn to community colleges and state institutions.

The Posse Foundation leverages its unique recruitment strategy to identify those veterans who can excel at selective four-year institutions of higher education. Posse creates cohorts of veterans, prepares them for the college experience, and supports them through to graduation. By partnering with top colleges and universities, at full capacity, Posse will support up to 500 veterans annually.

Brian Barkman, Jr.

Brian Barkman, Jr.

One of those veterans is Brian Barkman Jr., who is exploring a liberal arts education at Wesleyan University as a member of the school’s second Veterans Posse. Brian’s status as a post-9/11 veteran is not typical on Wesleyan's campus; he joined the Army National Guard while he was still in high school and was subsequently deployed as an infantryman to Bosnia and Iraq, followed by deployments to Afghanistan as a civilian military contractor.

After returning home from his service, Brian married and had a child. He and a fellow veteran launched the Veterans Art Foundation to help veterans use art to cope and recover from trauma. And now, with his Posse, Brian is ready to tackle college.

“My Posse is very diverse - not only in race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality... but in opinion,” says Brian. “We can talk about a lot of sensitive topics and maybe not agree, but still be friends. That can be a model for the rest of the world and on campus.”

Group photo of the three newest Veterans Posses.

Group photo of the three newest Veterans Posses.

Notes for this week:

  • International Youth Day is August 12th, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says it best: "The engagement of youth is more valuable than ever."
  • Our collective givetwig donation will leverage nearly $3,000 in scholarship dollars for urban public high school students!
  • Deborah Bial, President and CEO of The Posse Foundation, was recently featured in Forbes Magazine, highlighting The Foundation’s charge through 2020.
  • For more information regarding The Posse Foundation, please check out their website.

this week i'm gonna donate to The Posse Foundation.

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