Beat the Odds® Program

The Children’s Defense Fund-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 Beat the Odds program 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 toward their college expenses and is honored at the annual CDF-NY Beat the Odds awards gala.

Since 1995, the Children's Defense Fund Beat the Odds scholarship program 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.

2017 CDF-NY Beat the Odds Winners

Congratulations to the 2017 CDF-NY Beat the Odds® Winners!

Their stories will remind you how one caring adult can help change the outcome for a child in need. Please read and watch the stories of these five extraordinary youths who beat the odds stacked against them and learn how you can help make their dreams come true.


DJINO TIMOTIS

Djino grew up in Haiti, witnessing the horrors of the 2010 earthquake including destroyed homes, separated families, and death. His family was harassed and threatened by unscrupulous debt collectors, and eventually they fled Haiti to the safety of the US. In a few short years, Djino has excelled academically as is evident when he conducts tours at the museum where he interns. He has transformed from a child living with trauma and fear to becoming a young man who is a leader among his peers. Each year the CDF-NY Beat the Odds® scholarship program honors five exceptional high school students from New York City. Learn more and help us make their dreams come true. 

Watch Djino's video


MAMADOU NDIAYE

After losing his parents at a young age, Mamadou was raised by his grandmother, sharing a home in Mali with many other relatives. When his grandmother passed away suddenly, seven year old Mamadou was left alone to survive living in the streets with other youth.  He did not have enough food or money and every day activities like attending school were very difficult.  Mamadou persevered and eventually made his way to the U.S.  Mamadou is an avid soccer player who excels academically and is looking forward to college and a career helping others. Each year the CDF-NY Beat the Odds® scholarship program honors five exceptional high school students from New York City. Learn more and help us make their dreams come true.

Watch Mamadou's video


NORMA DEGANTE

Norma grew up in a household troubled with alcoholism and abuse. Her situation became even more difficult when her parents were imprisoned, leaving Norma and her four siblings under the care of her oldest sister. Norma and her siblings live in a two bedroom apartment with her sister, who is married and has a child.  The small apartment now provides shelter for eight people. Nevertheless, Norma still finds ways to study and excel in her classes, even if that means seeking solitude in the bathroom at home to do her homework late at night. Each year the CDF-NY Beat the Odds® scholarship program honors five exceptional high school students from New York City. Learn more and help us make their dreams come true.

Watch Norma's video


ROSEMARY RODRIGUEZ

Rosemary grew up in an abusive household where she faced many challenges and at times struggled to find a way out. The family finances became strained over time, resulting in an eviction and two years in a homeless shelter. However, Rosemary continues to persevere, to be an example for her younger brother and to advocate for other young people who face challenges in their lives. Each year the CDF-NY Beat the Odds® scholarship program honors five exceptional high school students from New York City. Learn more and help us make their dreams come true.

Watch Rosemary's video


WINDILA BALBONE

After her father took on a new wife, Windila was denied contact with her mother and she endured years of neglect.  With the help of her uncle, Windila was able to leave Burkina Faso, to go visit her mom in New York and was reunited with the person who motivated her the most. Since moving here, she has endured constant bullying from fellow students. With her mother and sister serving as her motivation, Windila is dedicated to ensuring that all girls - especially girls in her country - are respected and get the education they deserve. Each year the CDF-NY Beat the Odds® scholarship program honors five exceptional high school students from New York City. Learn more and help us make their dreams come true.

Watch Windila's video

Overview

The CDF-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.

Ten juniors and sophomores will be selected from the nomination pool, and will have the opportunity to apply for scholarships provided by the Children’s Defense Fund-New York during their senior year.

CDF-New York Beat The Odds scholarship recipients receive the following:

  • A college scholarship;
  • One-on-one college counseling, career guidance, SAT preparation, opportunity to tour colleges, life skills & leadership development;
  • Support services throughout their high school and college career; including ongoing mentoring, internship placements and career guidance;
  • Opportunities to participate in CDF-NY policy and programs; CDF Freedom Schools® program, Young Advocate Leadership Training® (YALT®) and internships; and
  • Membership to an extensive Beat the Odds alumni network.
How to Apply

We are accepting applications for the 2017-18 Children's Defense Fund-New York Beat the Odds® scholarship now until June 5, 2017.

Qualification Requirements

Students must be nominated or seek nomination for the New York Beat the Odds scholarship program by/from a teacher, counselor, caseworker or other adult who can speak to the following: his/her character, academic achievement, commitment to social justice issues/community, and the tremendous odds he/she beats every day.

For consideration in the New York Beat the Odds scholarship program, students must:

  1. Be a current high school sophomore who resides in or attends school within the five New York City boroughs;
  2. Has overcome significant obstacles such as, but not limited to, poverty, disability, homelessness or abuse;
  3. Has achieved/maintained a grade point average showing improvement or success; There is no GPA requirement;
  4. Following graduation, attend college/university;
  5. Demonstrate commitment to your community and/or social justice issues; and
  6. Attend mandatory workshops, meetings, interviews and award ceremony if selected.

All nominees must agree to share their story on camera. 

Meet Our Past Honorees
Djino Timotis Mamadou Ndiayer Norma Degante Rosemary Rodriguez
2017 2017 2017 2017
       
Windila Balbone Elham Chowdhury Shirleyka Hector Aesron Jeremiah
2017 2016 2016 2016
       
 
 
 
Sashagale Moore Ruben Suazo Tiffany Rivera Shainek Edmundson
2016  2016 2015 2015
       
 
 
 
 
Sarye Huggins Michael Borello Joshua Hazelwood Moke Hein
2015 2015 2015 2014
     
 
 
 
 
Luigji Camaj Demeara Torres Craig Phillip Benny Rodriguez
2014 2014 2014 2014
     
 
Ricki Rupine Raymond Perez Joshua Norris Jeffrey Ng
2012 2012 2012 2012
       
Abdul Zahid Ninaad Dave Linda Hyginus Javon Mullings
2012 2011 2011 2011
       
 
     
Jane Soliternik      
2011