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

Applications for the 2018 Beat the Odds scholarship program are now closed. Recipients to be selected in November.

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. Students must be nominated or seek nomination for the 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.

Students must be enrolled in a broader Twin Cities Metro area high school and must be on track to graduate by June 2018. Students are invited to apply regardless of immigration status. Students who are undocumented should review page two of the application linked below before submitting their applications.

Children's Defense Fund-Minnesota will select 10 finalists in the fall of 2017 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, allocated during college matriculation, and a laptop computer;
  • Induction into the CDF family and invitation to join CDF’s leadership development ladder; and
  • Honors at the annual Beat the Odds Awards on March 8, 2018. Professional, autobiographical videos of each honoree’s story will be produced in winter 2017/2018 and shown at the ceremony. These films may also be shared with the media, sponsors, supporters and the broader public, as well as posted on our website.
Beat the Odds® Awards Celebration

Join us!

Our 26th Annual Beat the Odds® Awards Celebration will be held the evening of Thursday, March 8, 2018. Watch for more details in late fall 2017.


Help us make our Beat the Odds celebration a success! Watch for details near the end of 2017 on how to volunteer at our 2018 event.

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