Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Posse Program Expands Recruitment Process to Houston for 2025 Cohort

The Posse Foundation works with Oberlin College to recruit and provide full tuition scholarships to a small group of 10 students with diverse backgrounds every year. Students work with four college mentors and the foundation to secure internships and career opportunities throughout the year. At Oberlin, the Posse Foundation has recruited their students exclusively from Chicago, but recently, Oberlin has announced the expansion of the program to recruit from Houston as well. The first Posse Scholars from Houston will begin studies alongside the 19th Chicago cohort. 

“We are proud of our long and productive history with the Posse Foundation, and we will recruit Chicago Posse #18 this year,” Manuel Carballo, vice president and dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, wrote in an email to the Review. “We recruited our first Posse cohort in 2006 and have welcomed more than 170 Posse Scholars to campus since then. The Admissions Office works with a number of community-based organizations and programs that help us find amazing, talented students who might not otherwise be exposed to colleges like Oberlin.”

The College has received a $500,000, five-year grant that will help expand into Houston and strengthen Oberlin’s commitment to the program. This will allow for 10 students to be selected from both Houston and Chicago, with the process starting in December 2024. There are currently four Chicago Posse cohorts on campus, with the 18th group being recruited this year. The goal is to add eight mentors and four cohorts from Houston by 2028. 

“I think [the addition of Houston] will prove beneficial for students of course, and I’m always for the addition of more POC students at PWIs to reap benefits that are not usually offered at respective high schools or more urban neighborhoods that intentionally provide less funding to schools with a higher numbers of students from underrepresented populations,” College fourth-year Dejah Pittman, who is a student in Posse #14, wrote in an email to the Review. “I do think it will be interesting to see the interactions between the OG Posses and the new Houston folks, due to Chicago having such a large presence on campus due to the Posse Foundation.” 

The Posse Foundation has expanded other college programs before, and the idea of expanding Oberlin’s engagement is not specific to the school itself. Because of the grant, the College now has the resources to reach out to communities in Houston and Chicago and provide the same quality resources to both cohorts. 

“Posse has grown over the years, and it is not unusual for colleges to partner with more than one host city,” Carballo wrote. “During my time at Middlebury, the college went from hosting a NYC Posse to growing with partnerships in both Chicago and Los Angeles, now welcoming three cohorts a year.” 

While in Posse, students receive a full financial scholarship for tuition. They are also given other resources and skills to guide them toward success, with Oberlin hosting a graduation visualization ceremony where students meet with President Carmen Twillie Ambar during their first year and envision their future at Oberlin. 

“I will always appreciate and thank the Posse Foundation for not only contributing greatly to the financial aspect of college, but the resources readily at my disposal in ways that most students — especially POC — are not usually privy to,” Pittman wrote. “I can’t wait to visit Oberlin in a decade or so to come back and see the growth of Posse at Oberlin; we truly make a mark on this campus. So many of the student leaders I know, including myself, are a part of Posse and we are all so diverse and passionate about many things on a wide spectrum, that adding a new city will indeed add much needed new culture to our campus.” 

Oberlin works with different community organizations to help expand their search and find students who might not be aware of the school. Posse staffers and Oberlin also work with high schools, college securities, guidance counselors, and community leaders to expand their search. Currently, some of the partners that Oberlin works with in Houston consist of Yes Prep, the Knowledge Is Power Program, and Emerge. 

“There are no changes for those applying this year,” Carballo wrote. “As a cohort model, Posse hosts a unique recruitment process. They work with local high schools — in this case Houston — community-based organizations, religious groups, etc. to get nominations for their program.  … Our role becomes more significant towards the end of that process. After two rounds of interviews with our Posse colleagues, we’ll work with them in the third round to select 10 scholars who will join us in the following year.” 

Working with Oberlin, the Posse Foundation implements its own dynamic assessment process to help in selecting students, utilizing large group and individual interviews. 

“From September to December each year, Posse conducts the Dynamic Assessment Process (DAP), a unique evaluation method designed to identify young leaders who might be missed by traditional admissions criteria but who can excel at selective colleges and universities,” The Posse Foundation website reads. “Using nontraditional forums to evaluate potential, DAP offers students an opportunity to demonstrate their intrinsic leadership abilities, their skill at working in a team setting, and their motivation and desire to succeed.”

The College has already begun working with Houston for the new cohort and hopes that with these cohorts, there will be diverse voices added to the Oberlin student body and more recruitment opportunities for Oberlin Admissions as a whole. 

“I’ve been fortunate to participate in the selection of the Oberlin Posse scholars from Chicago for the past 17 years,” Director of Admissions Tom Abeyta wrote in an email to the Review. “The program identifies qualified students from the greater Chicago area that have displayed great leadership potential. … The Posse program has a unique selection process that allows our team the opportunity to meet and interact with all the finalists. The final selection of our scholars each year is what I look forward to each recruitment cycle. I’m excited to have the partnership include Houston.”

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