About Brandeis Posse and Transitional Year Program


Brandeis Posse is a merit-based scholarship program founded by Brandeis alumna Debbie Bial '87. Each year, 10 students are selected as Brandeis Posse Scholars from a pool of more than 1,600 candidates in New York City, making Posse one of the most competitive scholarship competitions in the country. Brandeis Posse Scholars are selected for their academic, leadership, and communication skills.

Transitional Year Program

The Transitional Year Program is an integral part of the University’s founding and enduring commitment to social justice. Founded in 1968, the TYP is a one-year academic program for students who have developed the skills for college success by practicing leadership in their life experiences. 


The Legacy Fund supports pioneering college-access initiatives for worthy students through the Brandeis Posse and the Transitional Year Program.

A. Philip Randolph Endowed Posse Scholarship

In 2007, the Legacy Fund established the A. Philip Randolph Endowed Brandeis Posse Scholarship, which provides a student full-tuition support for a Brandeis Posse student while honoring the prominent 20th-century civil rights leader.

 “It is entirely fitting that the A. Philip Randolph Endowed Brandeis Posse Scholarship is established at Brandeis, a University that has long embraced the ideal of achieving social justice,” said Brandeis President Jehuda Reinharz, Ph.D. ’72. “A. Philip Randolph selflessly dedicated his life to improving the lives of all Americans.”

In cooperation with The Posse Foundation, which was founded by Brandeis alumna Deborah Bial ’87, Brandeis awards 10 merit-based Posse Scholarships each year to students from public high schools in New York City. Posse Scholars are selected for their academic, leadership, and communication skills. Since joining the national Posse program at its inception in 1998, Brandeis has awarded 100 Posse scholarships to deserving students.

The first recipient of the A. Philip Randolph Endowed Brandeis Posse Scholarship was Deborah Mirabal ’10 of Brooklyn, N.Y. At Washington Irving High School, she was a member of the National Honor Society, edited the yearbook, and participated in the school dance company. She also served as an intern for the Association for a Better New York. At Brandeis, she is considering becoming an economics major with a minor in business. She belongs to the Hispanic-Latino student organization and business club, and works at the Lemberg Children’s Center. After graduation, she hopes to attend graduate school or pursue a career in investment banking. 

Asa Philip Randolph (1889-1979), who received an honorary degree from Brandeis in 1969, founded the first independent black labor union in the United States when he organized the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters in 1925. Randolph also successfully pushed for integration of the military in the 1940s, founded the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights in the 1950s, and was a leading organizer of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. He also served as a vice president of the AFL-CIO.

Tony Williams Transitional Year Program Scholarship

The Legacy Fund made a signficant gift to the Tony Williams Transitional Year Program Scholarship, which was established in honor of the beloved longtime TYP director who died in late 2007 after a two-year battle with lung cancer. He was 68.

Williams came to Brandeis as assistant dean of students in 1969. Nine years later he was appointed director of the TYP, put in charge of the pioneering initiative that gives outstanding individuals their first real chance to pursue a rigorous university education. He retired as director in 2004, but taught his sociology course for another year.

As all great teachers understand, Williams knew that some of the most enduring lessons have little to do with subject matter.

“With Mr. Williams, it wasn’t just about academics,” said Pedro Fontes ’00, a Transitional Year Program student during the 1995-96 academic year. “He taught us so much more than that. He taught important life lessons.”

“He was teaching students and people all the time – it was just who he was,” said current TYP director Erika Smith, who came to Brandeis in 2000 and succeeded Williams when he retired. “He was always disseminating some information.”

TYP graduates from around the country returned to campus to join the Brandeis community for a memorial service to honor Williams.

“He’s a guy who really cared,” said Jahfree Duncan ’09, a TYP student in 2004-05. “Look at all the lives that he positively impacted. He gave people futures.”