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Developing and nurturing peer support groups can contribute to success for students on their path to, and through, higher education.

Photo of Bettina Fliegel
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Posse is a renowned college access and youth leadership program in the US.  Their focus is on gaining access to selective colleges for youth from low income urban communities who exhibit leadership qualities, and providing supports so that they remain in school, thrive, graduate on time, and start on a career path.  One main form of support that is nurtured is peer to peer support from within the program.

The model identifies students “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.”  

Veterans Posse Program - Recently the program has expanded to create opportunities for US veterans as well.  


Why is this vital?

“A diverse society requires diverse leadership.  Posse works to fill this need.”

Campus Impact

Workforce Impact



The foundation of this program is that it brings youth together into groups of 10 students/'posses', and prepares them to work together as a supportive unit as they move through the process of applying to college, attending and graduating from college.  A posse of students are admitted to and attend the same university, essentially bringing a support system with them.

Students receive full scholarship support. 


I.  Recruitment - Thousands of students are nominated by teachers annually.  The Posse Organization evaluates and selects nominees during the fall of their senior year.  Students selected into the program are then formed into groups/posses.

II.  Pre-Collegiate Training - Weekly workshops for Posse teams from Jan – Aug of senior year.

  • Team building and group support
  • Cross cultural communication
  • Leadership and becoming an active agent of change on campus
  • Academic Excellence 

III.  Campus Program

  • Every student has his/her own campus mentor whom they meet biweekly.
  • Each posse team has a campus mentor with whom they meet weekly as a group.
  • Posse Foundation staff visit students on each campus 4 times a year.                     

1V.  Career Program - 5 Components

  • Internships
  • Career Development Workshops
  • Career Coaching
  • Graduate and Fellowship Programs
  • The Alumni Network

V.  Posse Access -  Connecting unselected scholarship student nominees to partner universities so that they can be considered for regular admission.

(Quotes are from

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Tell us about your work experience:

I am a physician/pediatrician with a background in clinical medicine, administration and teaching. My practice is currently focused on serving adolescent youth within the juvenile justice system in NYC.

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

While the focus here is on identifying and supporting future leaders might the essential model, the 'posse' as support system, be expanded to create opportunities for success for all students as they might struggle with a new and different culture that campus life brings - particularly thinking about 1st generation students?

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of Kate Rushton

Hi Bettina!

Thank you for sharing the Posse program. I wonder if there is a case for a Posse group comprised of 1 international student, 1 traditional student, 1 career changing student etc. to reflect the current and future workplace. 

I also wonder how the Posse program could be adapted for more rural areas and for high school students living in the middle of nowhere.