In keeping with its goal to create a diverse campus community, Kalamazoo College has announced that 50 students from Los Angeles public schools will enroll in the College through a partnership with the Posse Foundation.

These "Posse Scholars" are public high school students with extraordinary academic and leadership potential, but come from groups that are underrepresented in American higher education and are often overlooked by traditional college selection processes.

Kalamazoo will enroll 10 Posse Scholars in five consecutive academic classes, from the class of 2013's matriculation in 2009 to class of 2017's graduation.

All Posse Scholars enrolling in Kalamazoo College will come from Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the public school system that serves the city of Los Angeles and many other cities and unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County. During the last school year, more than 72 percent of the 700,000 students in LAUSD were Hispanic, 11.2 percent black, and 3.7 percent Asian.

"This is exciting news for the entire Kalamazoo College community," said President Eileen B. Wilson-Oyelaran. "A key goal of our strategic plan is to attract and retain more students from diverse geographic, ethnic, and socio-economic backgrounds. The Posse program jumpstarts that process and makes a great undergraduate experience more accessible for these students."

The inclusion of 50 Posse Scholars into the Kalamazoo community is expected to increase matriculation of students of diverse backgrounds who are not involved in the program, she added. That trend has been evident at other colleges involved in the program.

Founded in 1989, the Posse Foundation partners with more than 30 colleges in which more than 1,000 Posse Scholars are enrolled. Headquartered in New York City, Posse administers programs in public schools systems of Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, and Washington, D.C.

Kalamazoo College is the first Posse Foundation partner college in Michigan.

"We are very pleased to partner with Kalamazoo College," said Posse Foundation president and founder Deborah Bial. "Its innovative 'K-Plan' and pioneering study abroad program are proven models of excellence that will serve our Posse Scholars well."

According to Bial, the name "Posse" underscores the importance to the collegiate success of these highly qualified students of experiencing college in a group, or posse. The college graduation rate of Posse Scholars is 90 percent.

Kalamazoo joins Dickinson College, Grinnell College, Tulane University, and University of Wisconsin-Madison in the LA Posse program.

With the assistance of LAUSD teachers and officials, LA Posse
Kalamazoo College is the first Posse Foundation partner college in Michigan.
Program staff will screen hundreds of students beginning this fall during an intensive interview process and provide Kalamazoo with a finalist pool of 20-25 candidates. In January 2009, Kalamazoo will select ten students to form a Posse which will participate in an eight-month series of pre-collegiate workshops designed to help students prepare for matriculation.

The Posse/Kalamazoo collaboration is made possible by a grant from the Arcus Foundation, which was founded by Jon Stryker '82, Kalamazoo College trustee and alumnus. The total amount of the grant to the College will exceed $5 million over the nine-year period of the program and provides full scholarships for each Posse Scholar, as well as on-campus academic support.

"I benefited from a Kalamazoo College experience and am eager to see underrepresented students have the same opportunity," said Stryker. "The Posse program will help the campus more closely reflect our country's diversity, will foster an environment of educational equity, and will promote social justice."

Headquartered in Kalamazoo, the Arcus Foundation mission is to achieve social justice that is inclusive of sexual orientation, gender identity and race, and to ensure conservation and respect of the great apes. Since it was established in 2000, the Arcus Foundation has awarded more than $116 million in grants.

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