Programs and Campaigns

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Beat The Odds Scholarship Program

The Children’s Defense Fund 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. 

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

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. 


The CDF-NY Beat the Odds Scholarship Program helps to raises awareness about the challenges facing New York children and the need for continued investment and advocacy. The individual experiences and stories of the youth honored inform CDF-NY's ongoing efforts to shape policies and change the odds for all children. Below are the stories of extraordinary young people who have faced tremendous hardships on the road to college, and survived childhoods marked by periods of homelessness, abuse, abandonment, and loss; yet each of these remarkable students has achieved academic excellence and personal success despite their difficult upbringings.

 Meet Our 2015 BTO Scholars

Sarye Huggins   Shaniek Edmundson
Tiffany Rivera   Michael Borrello
Joshua Hazelwood    

Meet Our 2014 BTO Scholars

Benny Rodriguez - Clara Barton High School Brooklyn, NY

Attending Syracuse University 


Craig Phillip – Boys & Girls High School Brooklyn, NY

  Attending Hobart & William Smith Colleges 

Luigji Camaj – Christopher Columbus High School Bronx, NY

Attending University of Vermont Catamount


Moke Hein – Long Island High School Long Island City, NY

  Attending Syracuse University 

Demeara Torres – Townsend Harris High School, New York, NY

Attending University of Rochester

2014 CDF-New York Beat the Odds®: Rising Stars

Joselyn Guaman, Sr. at Brooklyn International High School, Attending St. Joseph's College

Felicia Campbell, Sr. at Beacon High School, Attending Syracuse University

Michael Mazzeo, Sr. at Stuyvesant High School. Attending Macaulay Honors Hunter College 

2012 Beat the Odd winners 

Jeffrey Ng


Joshua Norris

Ramon Perez


Ricki Rupine

Abdul Zahid