Beat the Odds® Scholarship Program

The Beat the Odds® scholarship program honors outstanding high school students who have overcome tremendous adversity in life to achieve academic excellence, demonstrate leadership in their communities and aspire to attend college. Each year, through a competitive review process, Children's Defense Fund-Minnesota selects five of the most deserving Twin Cities-area high school students for a Beat the Odds scholarship to be put toward college expenses. This year's recipients will each receive $5,000.

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

Since 1993, CDF-MN has awarded more than 300 scholarships to outstanding youth in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. The celebration raises needed funding to sustain the organization's Leave No Child Behind® mission.

Please show your support for these high school students by giving as generously as you can.

How to Apply

Apply now or nominate an outstanding high school student for the 2017 Beat the Odds scholarship program!

Applications must be received or postmarked by 11:59 p.m., Friday, October 14, 2016.

Children's Defense Fund-Minnesota will select 10 finalists in the fall and from that group will choose five honorees. Honorees will be notified in November and will each receive a $5,000 Beat the Odds scholarship.

Apply online

Download the application packet for students and nominators and submit via:



Attn: Emma Chambard 555 Park St. Suite 410 St. Paul, MN 55103

Fax (651) 227-2553

If you have questions about your application, please email or call (651) 855-1181.


For consideration in the Minnesota Beat the Odds scholarship program, an applicant must:

  1. Be a current high school senior in Minneapolis, St. Paul or surrounding area attending a public, charter or alternative high school; 
  2. Be nominated or seek nomination from a teacher, counselor, caseworker, or other adult who can speak to the student’s challenges; 
  3. Have overcome significant adversity such as, but not limited to, poverty, disability, homelessness or abuse; 
  4. Demonstrate participation in school activities, community organizations, employment and/or community service; and 
  5. Graduate by June 2017.

Beat the Odds scholarship applications are reviewed by our 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.


Winners will be interviewed and videotaped subjects of mini-documentaries to raise awareness about the challenges young people face. These mini-documentaries will be aired at the Beat the Odds Awards Ceremony in March 2017 and posted online as part of CDF's YouTube library. Applicants must feel comfortable sharing their stories publicly.


Applicants for the Beat the Odds scholarship will be evaluated based upon:

  1. An application form, which should tell the applicant's story, and include sufficient details to describe significant hardships/challenges faced, volunteer and service leadership experiences, and academics. 
  2. A recommendation from a teacher, counselor, caseworker, or other adult who can speak to the student’s challenges.

Notifications will be made November 2017.

Recipients will be honored at the March 2017 Beat the Odds Awards Ceremony.


651-855-1181 or 

Beat the Odds® Awards Celebration

Thank you!

Thank you to everyone who joined us for our 24th annual Beat the Odds® Awards Celebration in April. Check out our event photo album here!

Meet Our Past Honorees
Shamaria Jordan Sebastien Lannelongue Domenic Johnson Christopher Oquist
2016 2016 2016 2016
Mela Nguyen Hennessey Carlbom Martell Person Randy Mathews
2016 2016 2015 2015
Kao Soua Yang Nasro Mohamed Makayla Hout Tamera Larkins
2015 2015 2015 2014
Yee Thao Ramiro Maldonado Devonte Miller Dorothy O'Berry
2014 2014 2014 2013
Salina Samaniego  Rachel Flores Maria Cruz Mendiola Lashay Thompson
2013 2013 2013 2012
Anne Sinner Eduardo Sanchez Beltran Raymond Perez Sasha Schanz
2012 2012 2012 2011
Amira Gill Alex Glaze Abdirahman Hassan Brian Anderson
2011 2011 2011 2010
Jazmine "Jazz" Caldwell Kristal Vang Amanda Kelley Edwin Rosas
2010 2010 2010 2009
Kia Lor Michael Roberts Max Wirt Maricruz Monreal
2009 2009 2009 2008
Justin Haynes McKizzie Fadumo Hassan Maipacher Her Choua Yang
2008 2008 2008 2007
Jacqueline Bonilla Tanya Allen Westenly Alcenat Katherine DeSantis
2007 2007 2006 2006
Pang Kou Yang Rance Palmer    
2006 2006