Oberlin College and Conservatory is expanding its 17-year partnership with The Posse Foundation, a national nonprofit that teams up with selective U.S. colleges and universities to provide scholarships and leadership training for outstanding students from more than 20 cities across America.
Since 2006, Oberlin has welcomed more than 170 Posse Scholars from Chicago. In fall 2025, the first Posse Scholars from Houston will begin studies alongside the 19th Chicago cohort.
All Posse Scholars receive four-year, full-tuition scholarships from Oberlin. A $500,000 five-year grant from The Posse Foundation supports additional costs associated with each Posse Scholar’s schooling.
“We are proud to grow our long-standing relationship with Posse Scholars because the model really works,” says Oberlin College and Conservatory President Carmen Twillie Ambar. “The Posse Foundation got its start more than three decades ago, inspired by a student who said, ‘I never would have dropped out of college if I’d had my posse with me.’ That simple but powerful message has led to countless success stories at Oberlin and other institutions that deeply value equal access to education.”
Since 1989, Posse has identified public high school students with extraordinary academic and leadership potential who might be overlooked by traditional college selection processes, which often leave behind first-generation students and those from financially insecure families. Posse Scholars attend college as members of multicultural teams of 10 students, or posses. The Posse Foundation prepares these students through an eight-month pre-collegiate training program, supports them through all four years of college, and helps them secure competitive internships and leadership-track careers. Dedicated mentors from Oberlin’s faculty and staff guide Posse Scholars throughout their time on campus, beginning with a graduation visualization ceremony.
To date, more than 12,000 students have earned more than $2 billion in scholarships from Posse partner colleges and universities. Nationwide, Posse Scholars graduate at a rate of 90 percent—far above the national average.
Oberlin Posse Scholars have earned a long list of accolades, among them Fulbright Scholarships and Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowships.
Manuel Carballo, Oberlin’s vice president and dean of admissions and financial aid, notes that Posse Scholars often emerge as campus leaders among their peers. “Our last two Student Senate presidents have been Posse Scholars,” he says. “They bring energy and idealism to the community. It’s a real honor to get to know and support such talented students and watch them grow from selection to graduation.”
Oberlin Posse Scholars have earned a long list of accolades, among them Fulbright Scholarships—the U.S. government’s flagship program of international educational and cultural exchange—and Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowships, paid research fellowships for PhD-track students to increase faculty diversity in higher education.
Aliyah Turner, a 2017 Oberlin grad and Mellon Mays Fellow, is a professor on the tenure track at DePauw University. She will defend her PhD in sociology this spring at the University of Washington. Turner credits her Oberlin-Posse experience with putting her on a path to success she otherwise would not have been able to follow—a path she now helps others navigate.
“The socio-emotional and financial support offered through Posse helped to provide me access to an enriching educational experience—one that I still cherish and consider hugely developmental to who I am as a scholar, thinker, activist, educator, and, now, a parent and wife,” says Turner. “The staff at Posse believed in me when I questioned myself, and that encouragement is what I offer to the amazing, brilliant, committed, and engaged Posse Scholars [at DePauw] I currently mentor and support!”
Recent Oberlin Posse Scholars have gone on to careers in the following fields, among others:
• Program lead for a $500 million federal workforce development initiative
• Neurosurgery resident at University Hospitals in Cleveland
• PhD candidate studying race inequities in education at Stanford University
• District director for an Illinois state senator
“We are absolutely thrilled to expand our partnership with Oberlin,” says Posse Foundation President and Founder Deborah Bial. “We are grateful to President Ambar and Dean Carballo for their vision and leadership. Their care and support make the Oberlin campus a very special place.”
Learn more at PosseFoundation.org.
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April 22, 2021