Programs and Campaigns

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Beat the Odds® Program

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2012 Washington, D.C. Beat the Odds Slideshow


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2014 Beat the Odds Honoree Videos

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Beat the Odds

The CDF Beat the Odds program honors outstanding high schools students who have overcome tremendous adversity, demonstrated academic excellence and given back to their communities. Started in 1990, the program identifies and rewards young people who have experienced significant hardship in their lives and supports and trains them to become future leaders in adulthood. CDF holds five high-profile awards events to send a clear signal that someone does care and understand what it takes to stay in school and do well while coping with adversity in their personal lives. The program is held each year in California, Washington, D.C., Texas, Minnesota, New York, and Ohio. Not only do these awards events celebrate the scholarship recipients, they demonstrate that behind each successful child is at least one caring adult. They also are meant to inspire community leaders and citizens who want to help children struggling to overcome adversity. CDF encourages you to attend one of these events and learn more about how you can help support outstanding high school students.

If you don't live in one of the six cities where CDF hosts Beat the Odds celebrations, there are still many ways you can support the program. Please contact LaVeta Hughes for more information at or (202) 662-3612.

Washington, D.C. Awards Ceremony and Reception

On November 15th, 2012, 60 Minutes correspondent Byron Pitts hosted the Children’s Defense Fund Beat the Odds® event, a special evening honoring five extraordinary youths. Each scholar received a $10,000 scholarship to college. Distinguished speakers included: Marian Wright Edelman, president of Children’s Defense Fund; Cedric Jennings, D.C. Council’s Director of Youth Programs; and Joshua Johnson, tap dancing sensation from Dancing with the Stars. Learn more about this year’s honorees, listen to their stories, and read Marian Wright Edelman's recent Child Watch® Column "Giving Thanks for the Hard Times".

Beating the Odds in Texas

CDF-Texas recently celebrated 15 years of hosting Beat the Odds® celebrations in Texas. Read more about the 2014 scholarship recipients from the Lone Star state. The Crystal Celebration luncheon took place on Tuesday, May 6 at the Hilton Americas Hotel in Houston. Learn more about exciting CDF-Texas events, past and present.