University Receives Largest Grant in History for Posse Partnership


Courtesy of Emma Cahill

The University received the largest grant in history for its partnership with the Posse Foundation.

Katie Reed, News Columnist

According to a press release issued on April 24th, the University received the largest philanthropic gift to date, when $20 million was endowed to the Posse Foundation, which the University has had a partnership with since 2019.

“The Posse Foundation partners with top universities and colleges from across the country to empower student leaders who transform communities, the nation and the world,” the press release stated. “Posse Scholars are selected from an extensive pool of academically exceptional students who might otherwise be overlooked through the traditional admissions process, including young leaders from diverse cultural, socio-economic, racial and religious backgrounds.”

This foundation was created in 1989 by Deborah Bial, with its name originating from a student who stated, “I never would’ve dropped out of college if I’d had my posse with me,” emphasizing the organization’s dedication to community-building and providing support to students.

The donation comes from Bancel Philanthropies, run by Brenda and Stéphane Bancel, who are dedicated to “creating equitable access to education, increasing food security, reducing health inequities, bolstering interfaith initiatives, reducing racial inequities, supporting trauma survivors and vulnerable communities, improving youth mental health and social isolation and stewarding sustainable conservation and food systems” through fundings, which makes their gift to the Posse Foundation one that greatly aligns with their goals and values. 

“Stéphane and I believe that access to education helps students reach their full potential,” Brenda Bancel said in the press release. “The combination of Villanova and Posse will surely be a recipe that will launch these students into future leaders. We are grateful to both of these outstanding organizations for their commitment to develop, mentor and walk alongside the next generations of Posse fellows.” 

At the University, the first group of Posse Scholars will graduate in May of 2024, with the group being recruited from New Orleans. With this gift from Bancel Philanthropies, it is expected that Villanova will be able to support 50 Posse Scholars over the next five years through covering the cost of their education. 

The University’s Provost, Patrick G. Maggitti, also expressed in the press release how critical both the partnership with Posse Foundation and the gift from Bancel Philanthropies are to the Villanova community. 

“Villanova’s rich academic environment is enhanced by intellectually curious and driven students with a diversity of experience and thought,” Maggitti said. “This gift from Bancel Philanthropies helps to advance academic excellence at Villanova, ensuring that exceptional students who otherwise may not have joined our University community have the opportunity to do so.”

Further, on the same day, Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, Ph.D., sent an email to the entire community informing it of this monumental gift endowed to the University. In the email, he reiterated the important work of the Posse Foundation and emphasized how the gift from Bancel Philanthropies aligns with other initiatives on campus that hold the University accountable to promoting access to education and furthering efforts of diversity, equity and inclusion. 

“Exceptional academic environments require intellectually curious and driven students with a diversity of experience and thought,” Donohue stated. “This remarkable gift from Bancel Philanthropies helps to advance academic excellence at Villanova and furthers a key area of our Strategic Plan— Rooted. Restless.—in making a Villanova education more accessible to deserving students.”

Further, to close out the email, Donohue thanked the Bancel family directly for their gift, acknowledging the role it will play in carrying out the mission of the University to “ignite change.”

“On behalf of the entire University, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to Bancel Philanthropies, the family philanthropy of Villanova parents Brenda and Stéphane Bancel,” Donohue stated. “It is clear that the Bancels share our commitment to educating the next generation of exceptional student leaders who will ignite change in their communities and beyond.”