Scholarship Program

Scholarship Program2021-03-04T10:40:12-05:00


CDF-New York Beat the Odds Scholarship


The Children’s Defense Fund Beat the Odds program identifies and rewards young people who have experienced significant hardship in their lives by supporting and training them to become future servant leaders. Hundreds of youths have persevered despite family breakdown, homelessness, parental incarceration, drug and alcohol addiction, neglect or abuse or gun violence and have been able to attend college and become outstanding citizens. They are now giving back to their communities as doctors, teachers, Peace Corps volunteers, and mentors for the next generation of young leaders.

Each year, CDF selects at least five extraordinary high school students from the communities near six CDF offices in California, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Texas and Washington, D.C. These honorees are provided with scholarships to defray the cost of college and with individualized services and supports to aid their transition into college and adulthood.


Since 1990, the CDF Beat the Odds Program has awarded scholarships to almost 1,000 students. The program currently supports more than 180 young people in high school, college, and graduate school. Despite having high risk factors for dropping out of school, Beat the Odds honorees have graduated from over 100 competitive colleges and universities and gone on successful careers in a variety of fields including education, public service, communications, engineering, and medicine.

2021 – 2023 CDF-NY Beat the Odds Scholarship

Program Application

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. 


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