'Posse' program helps students stay in college

The scholarship program sends kids to college in groups of 10 with the idea they will have a support system through their college years.
7:20 | 09/02/17

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Transcript for 'Posse' program helps students stay in college
You're going to need them for all the clothes you're bringing. Reporter: Across the country the season for both a bittersweet and joyous rite of passage. The disaster she's leaving behind. Reporter: 17-year-old Amaya Munoz putting the finishing touches on her last-minute packing before takeoff. I was just looking at baby pictures over there. Big day. Yeah. Big day. Very big day. Very proud. Reporter: Meanwhile, across town. Ready? Yes, we are. Taking jazz out. Jasmine Kerr is also beginning her journey. Everyone is friendly and nice. Reporter: From the bronx, new York to Depaul university in greencastle, Indiana carrying her family's hopes on her shoulders. My older brother, he went to stonybrook university and he wasn't successful there. He actually dropped out. He felt isolated in college. Yes. It's just a transition, a culture shock. Not having that support unit, that system in place, and the friends to lean on. Reporter: But Jazmine comes with allies her brother never had. Posse. A scholarship program combining a four-year full-tuition grant to some of the country's most prestigious schools. And it also comes with a built-in support network. The unique program sends students to college in groups of ten, posses, to have each other's back through the college years. Historically, merit has meant high test scores in admissions. And that is problematic because the students in this country who get the highest scores on the S.A.T., for example, are white and Asian. Reporter: So to help level the playing field, Deborah Beal started the posse program. It's exciting to see all of you in here. Reporter: Identifying star students through qualities like motivation and just plain grit that she says can't be measured by standardized tests and slowly helping change the demographic landscape at elite colleges across the country. 17,000 young people have been nominated across the united States for this scholarship this year. Reporter: Only 740 will be selected. Matched to one of posse's 57 partner universities. Some of the best in the country. Jazmine's quest began last fall. When she walked through these doors for the first round of interviews. It would mean getting like a support system in college, which is one of the hardest times. Reporter: Another candidate from the bronx, Christoph shakur Larman. He's always had to weigh his ambitions with the humble reality. I come from a low-income family. So this scholarship will help me push myself into getting into double majors for engineering and physics. That's what I really want. I really just want to work. Reporter: We followed posse in New York as they narrowed down this year's candidates. It involved months of interviews and carefully observed group interactions like this one, in an imaginary career at a toy company. After that do we have it correct? Posse is finding extraordinarily talented young people, kids who might have been missed by traditional admissions screens because maybe they didn't go to a great high school, maybe they didn't have the best test score. There are those who think that and think ah, they're watering down the admissions process, they're lowering their standards. You miss so much of a person when you focus totally on test scores and grades. When you look beyond a test score, when you look at the whole person, you see so much that can contribute to an academic environment and a social environment, which college is. We're relying on you. Reporter: 90% of posse's scholarship recipients graduate college, far boston national average of 53%. As the selection process continued in New York, the pressure began mounting. What do you know about round 2? It's a one-on-one interview. Kristoff, the nasa home, spends an afternoon prepping with his guidance counselor, and cracks begin to show. Good eye contact. My eye like -- I know. You struggle. And that's why -- I mean -- and I told you guys to practice on your own. I think you need to practice with someone. I've never had an interview before. Reporter: After the next round of interviews he receives disappointing results. Jazmine and Amaya, classmates at a bronx high school, have been practicing mock interviews on the weekends. Describe your leadership style. No, you can't. Reporter: For Amaya, an aspiring engineer, her first choice, the university of Wisconsin at Madison, one of the country's top schools for computer science. But then I was thinking, if I don't get posse would I still really want to go to Wisconsin by myself without -- I was like I can't go there if I don't get posse. Reporter: Three months after starting the process, finalists from around New York set out on their pilgrimage to downtown Manhattan for their last and deciding interview. I've been waiting weeks to finally go to this interview and see how it's going to be. After all this I still could go home empty-handed. Grab a seat. Reporter: Behind closed doors the finalists audition for what may be their most important roles yet. It was good seeing you. It was good seeing you. Talk to me if you find out anything. Reporter: Later that night our cameras joined a number of students as they awaited word. We found a few additional items left behind. There's a t-shirt that had a uw Madison badger on it. And and it has the name Amaya -- You got it? You got it. Yes! Yay! Oh, my god. Ma. Amaya got the scholarship! Thank you. When the call came you were nervous? Were you praying? We were nervous. I was crying. I was kind of just shocked. I didn't even believe it. I'm so proud of you. Honestly, college is a big responsibility. And I wasn't really able to pay it. So this was basically like an answer to prayers. Amen to that. Thank you so very much. They're all clapping. Jazmine's win, a culmination of a promise she'd made to her father six years ago. She on a whim just looked at me one day and said daddy, don't worry about school. I'm going to get a full scholarship. And I just said okay, like I believe it when I'll see it. Yay. At that point I didn't know if I was walking on cloud nine, but life just changed at that moment. Pretty much with the support group I think you can do almost anything. So happy, so proud. Reporter: Jazmine and Amaya, part of a milestone for the posse foundation. This week marks a billion dollars in scholarships awarded. Tell me when you get there. All right. Bye. Reporter: For "Nightline" I'm Byron Pitts in New York.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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