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Deborah Bial, 38: Founding partner of the Posse Foundation

How did you get the idea?
I was working at a youth leadership program in New York with a bunch of really smart, talented kids from public schools. We were watching them graduate from high school, go off to college, and then come back six months later, having dropped out. We organized a focus group to ask what happened, and one kid said to us, 'I never would have dropped out if I had my posse with me.' And I thought, 'What a simple, good idea. Why not send a team of kids to college? That way they could back one another up.'

What's been the hardest thing?
This year we helped 192 students. We've placed over 700 students since 1989 and have a graduation rate of almost 90 percent. We know this works, but one of the biggest frustrations is that this year we had 4,000 students nominated for 192 scholarships. We turn away thousands of kids.
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