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.

25th Beat the Odds® Anniversary

Marian Wright Edelman President, Children’s Defense Fund, and
CDF Board of Directors
cordially invite you to
honor five extraordinary young people from the Greater Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area.

2015 Beat the Odds® Celebration
Thursday, November 5, 2015

NEWSEUM
555 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20001

Dinner Reception: 6:30 p.m.
Celebration: 8:00 p.m.
Desert Reception: 9:30 p.m.


Register Now
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2015 Beat the Odds recipients:

Shawná Harris

Thurgood Marshall Academy
Washington, D.C.

Bridgette Chen

South Lakes High School
Reston, VA

   

Elijah Iqbal-Scott

Springbrook High School
Silver Spring, MD

Taylor Gaskins

School Without Walls
Washington, D.C.

Anthony Johnson

Friendship Tech Prep Academy
Washington, D.C.

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.

We are proud to announce the Beat the Odds® winners we will celebrate
in the fall of 2016

Troy Johnson – Cesar Chavez Public Charter School, Washington, DC

Janet Lagah-Bona – Duke Ellington School of the Arts, Washington, DC

Carlos Lopez-Sanchez – Columbia Heights Education Campus, Washington, DC

Bethany Pruitt – Washington Mathematics Science and Technology Public Charter School, Washington, DC

Yuchabel Sanon – Montgomery Blair High School, Silver Spring, MD

2014 Scholarship Recipients and Awards Dinner

CDF held the 2014 Beat the Odds Awards Ceremony on November 18 at the Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C., to honor Geoffrey Canada for his service as CDF Board Chair 2008-2014, and five extraordinary young people— Monica Chica, Aquera Gilliam, Diamond May, Hally Moreno, and Carolina Sosa—who have overcome the odds stacked against them to excel academically and give back to their communities in the Greater Washington Metropolitan Area. The awards ceremony was hosted by Malaak Compton-Rock, CDF Board Member and Founder and Director of The Angelrock Project. Special performances from Sequoia Snyder, an upcoming artist in the Washington Metropolitan area and sophomore at the prestigious Duke Ellington School of Arts, and Bria Walker, an inspiring artist, honor student and senior at the Duke Ellington School of Arts, contributed to an unforgettable evening.

2012 Scholarship Recipients and Awards Dinner

CDF held the 2012 Beat the Odds Awards Ceremony on November 15 at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C., to honor five outstanding young people— Ana Gloribel Pereia, Margaret Hobbins, Kim Tran, Jennifer Jimenez, and Eva Maria Turcios—who have demonstrated academic excellence and the strength and determination to "beat the odds." The awards ceremony was hosted by Byron Pitts, 60 Minutes Correspondent and CBS News Chief National Correspondent. Special performances from Vanessa Renee Williams, renowned gospel singer and recording artist, and Joshua Johnson, tap dance sensation on Dancing with the Stars, contributed to an evening to always be remembered.

2011 Scholarship Recipients and Awards Dinner

CDF held the 2011 Beat the Odds Awards Ceremony on November 15 at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C., to honor five outstanding young people—Thurman Anderson, Andrew Finein, Leland Kraatz, Anh Luong, and Mustafaa Nuraldin—who have demonstrated academic excellence and the strength and determination to "beat the odds." The awards ceremony was hosted by Malik Yoba. Geoffrey Canada, Malaak Compton-Rock, Dr. Judith Lansing Kovler, Dr. Rhondee Benjamin-Johnson and Judge Johanna Fitzpatrick served as presenters.

 

2010 Scholarship Recipients and Awards Dinner

On November 9 at the 2010 Beat the Odds Awards Ceremony, CDF honored five outstanding Washington, D.C. area youths who have demonstrated academic excellence and the strength and determination to "beat the odds." The awards ceremony, held at the Harman Center for the Arts in Washington, D.C., was hosted by Ali Wentworth.

 

2009 Scholarship Recipients and Awards Dinner

On November 10 at the 2009 Beat the Odds Awards Dinner, CDF honored five outstanding Washington, D.C. area youths who have demonstrated academic excellence and the strength and determination to "beat the odds." The awards ceremony, held at the W Hotel in Washington, D.C., was hosted by Ali Wentworth and George Stephanopoulos.

 

2008 Scholarship Recipients and Awards Luncheon

The 2008 Beat the Odds Awards Luncheon was held on May 19, 2008 to honor five Washington, D.C. area upcoming high school seniors who overcame tremendous adversity to demonstrate academic excellence and give back to their communities. Actress and comedienne Ali Wentworth and ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos hosted the event.

 

2007 Scholarship Recipients and Awards Dinner

On October 25, 2007, CDF recognized five outstanding students from the Washington, D.C. area, during the 2007 Beat the Odds Awards Dinner. The event was emceed by Desperate Housewives actor James Denton and hosted by actress and comedienne Ali Wentworth and ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos with a performance by singer N'Kenge.

CDF-California

The Children’s Defense Fund’s 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 deserving high school sophomores in Los Angeles to participate in the scholarship program. Each participant receives a scholarship valued at either $10,000 or $1,000 to put towards their college expenses, as well as the chance to be honored at the annual Beat the Odds Awards celebration.

Additionally, scholarship recipients have access to college and career readiness support services throughout their college career and beyond, including ongoing mentoring, internship placements, leadership development, and career guidance. In partnership with the Fulfillment Fund, students also receive college counseling, SAT prep, and an opportunity to tour college campuses throughout California.

Since 1995, over 700 students across the nation have been awarded Beat the Odds scholarships. Alumni of the program have graduated from some of the nation's premier universities and serve in a diverse range of occupations.


Apply for Scholarship
Apply

Get application dates and eligibility requirements for the Beat the Odds Scholarship program. Learn more

Meet our 2014 Beat the Odds Honorees
Meet

Meet the outstanding students who will be honored at the Annual Beat the Odds Awards next month. Learn more

Attend the Beat the Odds Awards
Attend

Get ticketing and sponsorship information for our annual Beat the Odds Awards ceremony. Learn more

Documentaries
Documentaries

Get inspired by watching Beat the Odds documentaries made by top Hollywood filmmakers. Learn more

Photos
Photos

Check out our massive collection of Beat the Odds photo albums on Flickr.. Learn more

Donate
Donate

The Beat the Odds Scholarship program is made possible by supporters like you. Learn more

If you have any questions about the Beat the Odds Scholarship program or would like to get involved, contact Michele Jones at mjones@childrensdefense.org or (213) 355-8788.

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 Oddsscholarship 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 allchildren.

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 2014 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
Minnesotta 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