The Posse Foundation: Implementing a Growth Strategy

Harvard Business School



Case Study Sector

The Posse Foundation selected high-potential, nontraditional students to attend selective colleges as part of a group of 10 from the same city. The organization had developed an ambitious growth plan, but because it focused on the most selective colleges, the pool of available university partners was somewhat limited. Some members of Posse's board wondered if the organization should broaden the criteria for potential partner colleges in order to more quickly grow the number of students it served. If Posse defined its impact as helping as many non-traditional students as possible enter and graduate from college, expanding the list of acceptable partners might make sense. But CEO Deborah Bial believed that selective colleges provided Posse scholars with more than just superior career opportunities—they were a gateway to influential leadership positions and powerful networks. If Posse defined its impact as changing the demographic makeup of the leadership of professions such as law, business, medicine, and education, then perhaps it should continue to target only the most selective colleges. The case provides an opportunity for readers in the CEO's shoes and weigh the consequences of each approach.



  • Partnership
  • Strategy


  • Northern America

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