Beat the Odds® Program

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 BTO@childrensdefense.org or (202) 662-3612 for more information.

Washington D.C.

The Washington, D.C. Beat the Odds® program honors outstanding high school students from the Washington, D.C. area 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 great hardship in their lives and supports and trains them to become future adult leaders.

Learn more about the Washington, D.C. Beat the Odds® program.

Congratulations to our 2016 Beat the Odds Winners Who Willl Be Honored at our 2017 Awards Ceremony!

Elsa Serrano Arita – Herndon High School, Herndon, VA

Jonathan Benitez – Washington Latin Public Charter School, Washington, D.C.

Christian Ndaye – Cardozo Education Campus, Washington, D.C.

Tallya Rhodes – H.D. Woodson Senior High School, Washington, D.C.

Khalis Williams – Oxon Hill High School, Oxon Hill, MD

CDF-California

The CDF-CA Beat the Odds® scholarship program recognizes outstanding young people who have overcome adversity to excel in school and as leaders in their communities. Every year, we select ten high school sophomores in Los Angeles to participate in the scholarship program based on their financial need, academic achievement, character, and commitment to community service. Beat the Odds awardees receive up to $10,000 in scholarship money and have access to a suite of academic and career readiness opportunities to support them as they transition from high school to college and beyond.

Learn more about CDF-CA's Beat the Odds program.

CDF-Minnesota

The CDF Beat the Odds awards program recognizes extraordinary young people who have overcome tremendous adversity in life to achieve academic excellence, demonstrate leadership in their communities, and aspire to attend college.

Thank you, applicants! 2015 Beat the Odds scholarship applications were due by Oct 15, 2014 Applicants will be notified of a decision by December 1, 2014.


Each year, through a competitive review process, four of the most deserving Twin Cities-area high school students are selected for a CDF Beat the Odds scholarship. They are honored for their academic achievements and perseverance in the face of tremendous and often overwhelming obstacles.

Since 1993, CDF-Minnesota has awarded more than 300 scholarships to outstanding youths in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Many recipients have gone on to pursue advanced degrees and positions of leadership in their communities.

The application is open to graduating high school seniors in the greater Twin Cities metropolitan area.

Raising Awareness

The annual Beat the Odds celebration helps to raise awareness about the significant challenges facing Minnesota children and the need for continued investment and advocacy. The individual experiences and stories of the young people honored at the dinner inform CDF's ongoing efforts to shape policies and the odds for all children.

As CDF's only annual fundraiser, the dinner also raises needed funding to sustain the organization's ongoing advocacy efforts on behalf of all the children of Minnesota who cannot vote, lobby or speak for themselves.

Developing Young Leaders

To help ensure their continued success, each student is also provided leadership development and advocacy training, internship and mentoring opportunities, and are connected to other individually relevant resources and supports from CDF as needed.

What are they doing now?

Catch up with past honorees

CDF-New York

The Children’s Defense Fund New York Beat the Odds® Scholarship

The Children’s Defense Fund Beat the Odds Scholarship 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.

The New York Beat the Odds® Scholarship Program provides social and academic college readiness programming to high school students that are working hard to overcome tremendous obstacles in their personal lives, who demonstrate academic achievement, and give back to their community. In addition, the program also offers scholarship opportunities and support services to aid scholars throughout their college career, including ongoing mentoring, internship placements and career guidance.

Each Beat The Odds Scholar receives a scholarship, to put towards their college expenses and will be honored at the Annual CDF-NY Beat the Odds® Awards Gala.

Since 1995, the Children's Defense Fund Beat The Odds® Scholarship has been awarded to nearly 700 students nationwide. Alumni of the program have graduated from some of the nation's premier universities and serve in a diverse range of occupations. 

Meet Our Beat the Odds Winners

 

CDF-Ohio

Beat the Odds Logo

The annual Beat the Odds celebration helps to raise awareness about the significant challenges facing Ohio's children and the need for continued investment and advocacy. The individual experiences and stories of the young people honored at the dinner inform CDF's ongoing efforts to shape policies and change the odds for all children. 



As CDF's only annual fundraiser, the dinner also raises needed funding to sustain the organization's ongoing advocacy efforts on behalf of all the children of Ohio who cannot vote, lobby or speak for themselves.

 

   

Apply for a Scholarship  

Attend the Celebration

Applications for the 2015 Beat the Odds scholarship are now under review.

 

Thanks to everyone who attended and supported our 2014 celebration! We look forward to seeing you in 2015!

     
Support CDF-Ohio's Work   Hear the Stories of Scholarship Winners
Your donation not only helps CDF-Ohio's Beat the Odds program, but supports continued advocacy for all children facing adversity.   The courageous stories of our scholarship winners help to raise awareness and provide inspiration for others facing similar challenges.
     
CDF-Texas

The CDF Beat the Odds awards program recognizes extraordinary high school students who have overcome tremendous adversity in life, achieved academic excellence, and demonstrated community service.

Each year, through a meticulous review process, deserving high school students are selected for a CDF Beat the Odds scholarship. Each winner receives a $5,000 towards college, a laptop or tablet, leadership development, and additional supports from CDF.  

The CDF Beat the Odds award program helps to raises awareness about the challenges facing children and the need for continued advocacy and investment. The individual experiences and stories of the youths honored inform CDF's ongoing efforts to shape policies and change the odds for all children in Texas.

Since 1999, generous community support has enabled CDF-Texas to award more than 125 scholarships to outstanding youths in Texas. Many recipients have gone on to pursue advanced degrees and positions of leadership in communities across the country while staying involved in CDF's youth leadership network for children.

See where they are now

High School Seniors:
Apply for a Beat the Odds Scholarship

 

Attend the Beat the Odds Celebration

 

Donate to the Beat the Odds Program

 

Hear Beat the Odds Scholars Tell Their Stories

Applications for the CDF-Texas Beat the Odds scholarship are due by 5:00pm on Friday December 5, 2014.   Our 15th anniversary Beat the Odds Awards took place May 6th, 2014 in Houston. Stay tuned for a 2015 event date! TBD   Your donation not only helps award college scholarships to youth beating the odds, but enables CDF's important work for all Texas children to continue.    The courageous stories of our Beat the Odds scholars help raise awareness about the challenges facing Texas children and provide inspiration for others in need of hope.
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Previous Recipients
CDF Beat the Odds Profiles

Started in 1990, the Beat the Odds 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.

 
 
 
 
Princess Allen Marino Angulo Rhondee Benjamin-Johnson J. Moises Cedillos
California 2002 California, 1990 Washington, DC 1992 Texas 2000
       
 
 
 
 
Kyle Corfman Katie DeSantis Ashley Dewey Brandon Gassaway
Washington, DC 2007 Minnesota 2006 New Orleans 2009 Texas 2008
       
 
 
 
 
Jonah Gilmore Jaime Gonzales April Stevens Gung De'Von Jennings
New Orleans 2009 California 2002 Texas 1999 Ohio 2012
       
 
 
 
 
Indyasia Johnson Tanisha Jones Romulus Johnson Arianna McQuillen
Ohio 2012 Washington, DC 1995 California 1990 Washington, DC 2010
       
 
 
 
 
Lily Moua Javon Mullings Tuan Nguyen Finie Richardson
Minnesota 2002 New York 2011 Washington, DC 2006 Washington, DC 1997
       
 
 
 
 
Steven Rocker Saira Soto Danny Tejada Sheehan Whelan
New York 2000 California 1998 New York 2004 Texas 2008
       
 
     
Itang Hope Young      
Texas 2002