A "posse" is a small, diverse group of talented students, carefully selected and trained, to serve as a catalyst for increased individual and community development. University of Wisconsin-Madison was in 2002 the first major public research institution to launch this unique program. Approximately 155 merit scholarships have been awarded thus far. Posse identifies leadership talent, ability to work in a team with people from diverse backgrounds and a desire to succeed. Once selected, Posse Scholars enroll in a 32-week training program during their senior high school year. They arrive on campus academically prepared and motivated to foster positive social change.
Posse is one of the most comprehensive and renowned college access and youth leadership development programs in the United States. In fact, President Barack Obama said in an interview in The Chronicle of Higher Education, “One of this year’s MacArthur awardees—the ‘genius’ awards—is an innovator named Deborah Bial. She proposed a model to identify promising students from…urban backgrounds using an alternative set of qualities as predictors of success in college. …The students that are selected form a ‘Posse’ and are provided with extra supports, and end up graduating from selective colleges with a very high success rate.”
The Posse Program has three goals:
1) Expand the pool from which top colleges and universities can recruit outstanding young leaders from diverse backgrounds;
2) Help these institutions build more interactive campus environments so that they can become more welcoming institutions for people from all backgrounds; and
3) Ensure that Posse scholars persist in their academic studies and graduate so that they can take on leadership positions in the workforce.