University Partners with The Posse Foundation and Philadelphia Futures



Erin Gormley Co News Editors

Villanova originally opened its doors to young Irish immigrants who sought a college education, and since then, the University has continued its tradition of providing an education, rooted in the Augustinian tradition. Since the University’s founding in 1842, Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. 

The University has recently announced partnerships with multiple scholarship programs including The Posse Foundation, Philadelphia Futures and the O’Toole Family Presidential Scholarship Program. 

Inspired by a student who said, “I never would’ve dropped out of college if I’d had my posse with me,” Deborah Bial founded The Posse Foundation in 1989. The idea behind the scholarship program was to send students to college as a group, so they could “back each other up” and receive a college education. Since its founding, The Posse Foundation has become one of the most prestigious and comprehensive college access, success and youth leadership development programs in the United States. The University recently announced partnership with the program, working to expand its recruitment efforts in the New Orleans area. 

Ten students, hailing from different high schools and backgrounds in New Orleans, will receive full-tuition scholarships to attend the university beginning in Fall 2020. Posse will provide the University with a “pool” of applicants from which admissions will select a handful. This process will continue with the selection of ten students each year in joint efforts with the Posse Foundation in New Orleans. 

“We each believe in the transformative strength of community and the importance of developing leaders from all walks of life who can go on to positively impact the world,” Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD, Villanova University President said. “The Posse program complements who we are as an Augustinian Catholic institution and is a tangible way in which we can bring our values to life.” 

In addition to partnering with The Posse Foundation, the University recently announced a partnership with Philadelphia Futures, becoming the organization’s twelfth and newest member. Philadelphia Futures enables low-income, first-generation college students with the means for admission to and success in a college environment. This fall, a cohort of three Philadelphia Futures students will join the student body, growing to a total of 12 students enrolled at the school annually for years to come. 

This new program with Philadelphia Futures is made possible, in part, from a donation from the Lenfest Foundation. This foundation’s mission is to provide young residents of Philadelphia with the education, knowledge, skills and opportunities to lead fulfilling and successful lives. 

“Serving a diverse student population and increasing access to a Villanova education for first generation, low-income students is foundational to the University’s mission and identity,” said Donohue.  “We are excited to partner with Philadelphia Futures and welcome these students to our Villanova community.” As the University belongs to the greater community of Philadelphia, the administration considers it a priority to give back to the Philadelphia area. 

“Everyone at Villanova is beyond excited to officially partner with Philadelphia Futures – whose mission is aligned and embedded in our work in admission and why our University was founded,” said Michael Gaynor, Director of University Admission at Villanova University and a former Philadelphia Futures mentor. “We will benefit greatly from Futures students joining our campus community,” said Gaynor.

In addition to these two college access programs, the University has signed a contract with the Guadalupe Center in Immokalee, Florida, outside of Naples. The University plans on providing college access to one or two students in the coming years to students from this foundation. The Guadalupe Center’s mission aims to break the cycle of poverty through education for children of Immokalee. Many students involved with the center are children of migrant workers and part of the Latinx community. 

Partnerships with these foundations are part of a greater plan for the University to increase diversity on campus. Donohue complemented these partnerships as a positive approach to the a strategic plan of the University. “We are in a very different place now” Donohue said, when commenting about the University’s transition from a regional school to a national university. The University’s plan involves diversifying students, teachers and administrators in an attempt to prepare students for a “diverse world.” 

“We are a microcosm of the society we live in,” Donohue said. These partnerships reflect the University’s goal to increase diversity of thought and backgrounds on campus.