Lin-Manuel Miranda, Luis A. Miranda Jr., Ed. Sec. Cardona Honor First Winners of Full-Tuition Posse Arts Scholarships to Bard, CalArts, and UNCSA at Awards Ceremony

New York, NY, January 27, 2022 --( Twenty-seven high school seniors have learned they will be attending college on full-tuition art scholarships totaling $5.2 million as participants in the new Posse Arts Program. Selected from public high schools in New York, Puerto Rico and cities across the country, the program’s inaugural class will matriculate this fall at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), Bard College, and University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA), respectively.

The Posse Foundation - a leading college success and youth leadership development organization - honored the pioneering students at a virtual Awards Ceremony on Monday, January 24. The event included special remarks from songwriter, actor, and director Lin-Manuel Miranda and his father, renowned political strategist Luis A. Miranda Jr., and a pre-recorded message from U.S. Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona. Posse President and Founder Deborah Bial was joined by participating college presidents Leon Botstein (Bard), Brian Cole (UNCSA), and Ravi Rajan (CalArts) in welcoming the new admits.

The Posse Arts initiative was conceived in collaboration with Lin-Manuel and the Miranda Family Fund. The program seeks to create a diverse pipeline of leaders in the creative arts by connecting promising art students from diverse backgrounds to top colleges and universities, where they attend as members of a cohort. Last spring, former First Lady Michelle Obama joined Lin-Manuel and Posse in announcing the launch of the program.

Addressing the new Posse Arts cohorts at the recent Awards Ceremony, Lin-Manuel said, “This really is an extraordinary moment. We are believers in the Posse process. Your time in school is a time for you to find your voice, find what you are passionate about. You’re going in with a squad and with a group of like-minded artists and you’re going to be able to lean on each other for support. You’re going to have an instant set of potential collaborators. Take advantage of your time and sink your teeth into the school. Get to know your Posse cohorts. And we are excited to be a step in your journey and to be able to say, 'We knew you when’.”

Winners of the Posse Arts opportunity were chosen for their exceptional leadership potential as well as artistic ability. To be considered for the award, students must first be nominated by their high school or a community-based organization. Nominees then take part in Posse’s Dynamic Assessment Process, an innovative, nontraditional method for assessing leadership and academic potential.

President Rajan, noting an alignment of CalArt’s and Posse’s holistic methods for assessing talent, commented, “Since our founding we’ve focused on portfolios and interviews and not test scores to gauge the future potential of young people. ... Because of that, our admissions process melds neatly with Posse’s, resulting in a new joint process that focuses on cultivating arts leaders from underrepresented communities.”

In addition to receiving full-tuition scholarships from participating institutions, the Posse Arts students will participate in eight months of pre-college training leading up to matriculation and receive faculty mentoring once enrolled.

Yadier Perez, a new Posse Scholar from Puerto Rico who will attend Bard next fall, reflected on the significance of the award for his family. “I am thankful to Bard. You have given me the opportunity to show my brothers, my siblings, that pushing and fighting for your dreams can make them a reality. … We've all gone through hardships, but we're here to succeed. We've earned this. So thank you, Bard, for giving me the opportunity to make my mom proud.”

Secretary Cardona said, “Posse’s theory of change is inspiring, placing teams of young leaders together to increase the positive impact they can have on our collective future.” Addressing the new Posse Scholars, he said, “These awards are a wise investment, in your gifts and in the future of America. You give me confidence in our ability to realize a more equitable society.”

Speaking directly to the parents in attendance, Luis A. Miranda Jr. remarked, “Each experience makes you stronger as a parent,” he said, “and you feel proud that your kids are going to be doing better than you.”

The first UNCSA cohort of Posse Scholars were recruited from Charlotte, North Carolina; Dallas, Texas; Denver, Colorado; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Chancellor Brain Cole remarked, “These students will join a thriving artistic community where they can immerse themselves in their art and find the mentorship and support needed to become their best selves. Indeed, this is a historical moment, one that marks the first of many Posse Arts cohorts to come.”

Representing Bard College, the first institution to partner with Posse to recruit students from Puerto Rico, President Botstein spoke about the outsized role the arts play in society. “We believe that the arts are not a separate way of life,” he said. “The arts are not decoration; they're not ornament. They're essential to any notion of freedom or autonomy or community, especially in a democracy. They are on the same level as physics, or mathematics, or economics or history and literature. And it's a wonderful addition to our student body, to have students from Puerto Rico.”

Over the next five years, Posse plans to expand the program to include five top-tier arts colleges. At capacity, the program will support 250 Posse Arts students annually, providing more than $10 million in full-tuition scholarships each year.

“I just want you to feel this moment,” said Posse President and Founder Deborah Bial as she addressed the class. “There were 17,000 students nominated for Posse Scholarships this year, and only 820 winners—and you are one of them. You’re about to go to one of the best institutions of higher education in the world. You’re going to pursue your art and you’re going to lead. We so desperately need leaders who come from diverse backgrounds in every field, including the arts—that’s you!”

Posse Arts Scholarship Awardees

California Institute of the Arts

Ivan De La Cruz
Madison Dorsey
Evan Ferguson
Richecia Henry
Menelik Lee
Amara Sol Mancia
Rileigh McDonald
Shyteek McLeod
Jaylin Rosado
Frances Sheehy
Khai Umstead

Bard College

Ariana Sofia Diaz
Naobie Angeline Garcia
Jadiel Omar Gómez Marín
Dashely Valeria Juliá Ramírez
Dyann Malpica Santiago
Gabriel Antonio Medina Maldonado
Kiara Arlene Peña González
Yadier M. Pérez Pagán
Diego Andrés Santos
Pedro Emiliano Vázquez Colón

University of North Carolina School of the Arts

Valeria Angulo Circa
Devin Gibbs
Ella Mairead McGovern
Tanaja Monèt Payne
Desirae Simone Powell
Bria Wright

About The Posse Foundation
Posse started in 1989, inspired by a student who said, “I never would have dropped out of college if I’d had my Posse with me.” Posse recruits students as seniors in high school, works with them 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 jobs.

Posse Scholars represent the diversity of the cities from which they are recruited and a majority are first-generation collegegoers. To be considered for the award, students must first be nominated by their high school or a community-based organization. Nominees then take part in Posse’s Dynamic Assessment Process, an innovative, nontraditional method for assessing leadership and academic potential.

Posse partners with 64 highly selective colleges and recruits dynamic students from more than 20 cities across the United States. To date, more than 10,000 students have won over $1.7 billion in scholarships from Posse partner colleges and universities. Most important, Scholars graduate at a rate of 90 percent—a rate that well exceeds the national average and equals or exceeds the average graduation rates at most selective colleges in the United States.
The Posse Foundation
Rassan Salandy