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Posse Foundation
Caroline Fett '16
December 12, 2014
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On Wednesday, December 17, Posse Foundation Representative Hedy Roma spoke during School Meeting. The school will presented her with the money that was raised for Posse, as well as the certificate from the Guinness Book of World Records for breaking the record for the most participants in a water balloon toss.

Is where you are today the result of luck or hard work? This is one of the questions that Deborah Bial, President and Founder of the Posse Foundation, often asks: it represents one of the fundamental reasons that she decided to found Posse.

The Posse Foundation is a national leadership development program that provides college access to exceptional students from cities across America. Its mission statement reads, “Posse identifies public high school students with extraordinary academic and leadership potential who may be overlooked by traditional college selection processes. Posse extends to these students the opportunity to pursue personal and academic excellence by placing them in supportive, multicultural teams—posses—of 10 students. Posse partner colleges and universities award Posse scholars four-year, full-tuition leadership scholarships.”

Posse partner colleges include Cornell, Vanderbilt, Middlebury and Northwestern.

How does Posse connect to Deerfield? The connection began early this fall, when Signe Ahl ’15 was organizing a water balloon toss to break the Guinness World Record (for the most people participating in a water balloon toss in a single venue).

Ahl explained, “There was a box on the application that asked if the event would raise awareness for a cause or [if the record would] be broken in honor of a charity. I immediately thought of the Posse Foundation. It was a no-brainer.”

When Ahl realized how much money had to be raised and how complicated all the logistics were going to be, she put together a committee of friends to help, and they worked with Dean of Students Amie Creagh, Head of School Margarita Curtis, Assistant Dean of Students Toby Emerson and Chief Financial Officer Keith Finan to make her idea a reality.

Generous donations from friends and family of committee members supplemented the money that Ahl and the committee raised selling cookies to Deerfield students. To date, the committee has nearly $15, 000.

Although $7,000 of the raised funds went to Guinness to make the record official (which it is — Guinness even added it to their website), the remainder of the money will be donated to Posse. Ahl also mentioned that she is working on designing a t-shirt that will raise even more money for Posse, and she hopes to promote a yearly fundraiser at Deerfield for the foundation.

Ahl stressed the importance of Deerfield students and families supporting Posse: “Deerfield students and Posse scholars have quite a lot in common; each are motivated, driven. They are looking to challenge themselves and experience new things. They are looking to brighten their futures and better the world at large.”

Bial reinforced Ahl’s point: “Posse is not a program for poor kids, it’s not a minority or outreach program. It’s an incredibly elite program that finds young people who have the potential to be Senators—the people who run hospitals, newspapers and major nonprofits—and sends them to college, to give them an opportunity they might not have otherwise had.”

Bial later added, “Kids that win Posse scholarships are outstanding, just like Deerfield kids are outstanding.”

In fact, the application process for Posse scholars is even more selective than ours at Deerfield: this year, 15,000 high school seniors were nominated for only 700 scholarship slots.