D.C. posse foundation sends students to college with support network

For many high school graduates in the D.C. area, college is not a guarantee.

College wasn't high on 17-year-old Yorman Amador's priority list until a few years ago. It wasn’t until her sophomore year that “I decided that I had to do something,” he said. In the fall, he's off to Grinnell College in Iowa.

One local organization not only helps students like Amador get into and pay for college, but also makes sure they graduate by sending them off with a posse of fellow students. That's what makes the D.C. chapter of the Posse Foundation this week's Harris' hero.

To help him deal with potential culture shock and heavy class load, he'll have nine other D.C. area students at his side, including Amy Flores.

“Going to Iowa I won't know anyone, so having this academic support, this social, emotional support will be so fundamental in all of us succeeding,” Flores said.

The Posse Foundation of D.C. partners with six universities around the country to provide scholarships to students it considers non-traditional.

Posse D.C. Director Paloma Garcia-Lopez says some of the students come from challenging backgrounds themselves and may be the first generation in their families to attend college.

“We have the senior class presidents, but we also have folks who are leaders in the community or their faith group so it's a very diverse group,” she said.

Since starting in 2004, Posse D.C. has awarded full-tuition scholarships to more than 300 students. Of those who've graduated so far, 60 percent are working in the D.C. area, the other 40 percent are in graduate school.