Washington, D.C. Beat the Odds® Program
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.
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
The CDF Beat the Odds scholarship program offers comprehensive, generous financial and educational support to exceptionally promising students in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.
Five sophomores will be selected from the nomination pool by our Beat the Odds Selection Committee based on their challenges, victories, academic potential and commitment to social justice.
Winners will receive the following:
- $10,000 scholarship, allocated during college matriculation
- laptop computer
- leadership and life skills development
- college tours
- guidance through the college admissions process
- career guidance and other services that provide academic support through college
- mentoring network
- induction into the CDF family and invitation to join CDF’s leadership development ladder
- special recognition at the annual Beat the Odds Awards Gala; and
- their life story made into a professional, autobiographical film.
How to Apply
The 2018 Children's Defense Fund Beat the Odds® Scholarship Application Submission Deadline: 11:59 p.m. on Monday, March 26, 2018. Apply Online Now.
For consideration in the CDF Beat the Odds Program, an applicant must:
- Be a current high school sophomore who attends a public, charter, or alternative school in Washington, DC; Alexandra, Arlington, Fairfax or Loudon Counties or the Cities of Manassas or Falls Church in Virginia; or in Montgomery or Prince George's Counties in Maryland;
- Have overcome significant adversity such as, but not limited to, poverty, disability, homelessness or abuse;
- Demonstrate participation in school activities, community organizations, and/or employment;
- Demonstrate a commitment to their community and/or social justice issues;
- Have a current G.P.A. of 3.0 or higher;
- Plan to attend college, university, or vocational school post graduation.
The Children's Defense Fund welcomes students to apply regardless of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, immigration status, age, disability, or any other characteristic protected by law.
Beat the Odds Program applications are reviewed by CDF staff and a selection committee that reflects the professional and ethnic diversity of our community. We consider each applicant holistically and within the context of their academic achievement, personal circumstances, available support network, and commitment to service.
Applicants for the Beat the Odds program will be evaluated based upon:
- A completed application form
- A personal statement, of no more than 750 typed words, that accomplishes the following:
- Describes the major obstacles and challenges in your life and how you have overcome them;
- Describes your past and current family, financial, educational, and emotional support systems;
- Describes how you have been able to achieve academic success or show marked improvement in academics, despite your hardships;
- Describes your commitment to serving others, for example: involvement in service clubs at school, community-based service, or taking on major home or work responsibilities.
- An educator recommendation from a teacher who knows the applicant well.
- A community member recommendation from a mentor, employer or counselor who knows the applicant well.
- An unofficial high school transcript. If an applicant is selected as a finalist, an official transcript will be required.
Annual Awards Celebration
2016 Scholarship Recipients and Awards Dinner
2015 Scholarship Recipients and Awards Dinner
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.
Beat the Odds® Honorees