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Posse rounds up biz support: org boosts diversity by helping students get into college and making sure they graduate.

Studios have been riding with Posse, a nonprofit organization that helps teenagers from diverse backgrounds gain admittance to college, and graduate. Bizzers including MGM topper Jonathan Glickman and Viacom prexy Doug Herzog will be on hand for the org's annual fundraising gala, an Evening of Stars at New York's Cipriani Wall Street on May 22.

The event will feature John Leguizamo, 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl and a performance by Bruno Mars.

The program will honor four contributors to the organization, including multicultural marketing agency Uniworld, whose CEO Monique Nelson is a Posse alumna, and one of 5,000 students the group helped send to college. Posse students have a 90% graduation rate.

Glickman, who is working to expand the profile of the East-Coast based org in Los Angeles, specifically among the entertainment industry, says he came on board four years ago after attending the scholarship ceremony, where he saw 100 students and their families become overwhelmed after the recipients were announced. "It was like the most emotional episode of Oprah on steroids," he says. "Kleenex was being thrown everywhere."

Glickman praised org founder Deborah Bial, who started a new Posse program this year that will send veterans to Vassar College. "College is the great equalizer of this country, and not many organizations focus on helping kids actually graduate," he says.

Michele Ganeless, president of Comedy Central, says she became involved with Posse after attending the 2005 gala, and now serves on the National Board of Directors, along with Glickman.

"It is such a simple yet brilliant idea, and matches so well with our company's goals of inclusion," Ganeless says. "We want to help Posse scholars have a greater understanding of the media business and become leaders, to better reflect the millennial generation."

She notes that Comedy Central and parent company Viacom have become major career partners with Posse, hiring close to 230 of the group's scholars each year as employees and interns.

Herzog, who is a member of the org's Los Angeles advisory board, echoes Ganeless' sentiments.

"I was extremely impressed by the incredible spirit and passion of Posse, and by the interns we hired from them," he says. "It's a terrific way to find great now and diverse talent."

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Title Annotation:Scene
Author:Palumbo, Michael
Publication:Variety
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 7, 2013
Words:371
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