Beat the Odds® Scholarship Program

Congratulations Class of 2017 Scholars!

The Children's Defense Fund Beat the Odds® Scholarship and Leadership Development Program honors outstanding young people who are overcoming tremendous adversity, demonstrate academic excellence and give back to their communities. Each year, through a competitive review process, we select five deserving high school seniors from the greater Houston area for a Beat the Odds award. We provide each student with the financial, academic and personal support necessary to matriculate and succeed in college and beyond -- including up to $5,000 in scholarship money, a laptop computer, domestic airfare to/from college and the CDF Haley Farm, ongoing mentoring, internship referrals, leadership development, coursework and career guidance, professional clothing and off-to-college dorm bundles.

The powerful stories of resilience, courage, determination and hope shared at the annual Beat the Odds Awards Luncheon inform CDF's efforts to change the odds for children, and serve as a stirring reminder and call to action for change-makers, policymakers, and everyone of us to renew our commitment to children.

Since 1999, the CDF-Texas Beat the Odds Awards has provided well over half a million dollars in college scholarships, and raises vital funds to support CDF's work in Texas.

Please show your support by giving as generously as you can.

Beat the Odds® Awards Luncheon

Help change the odds for extraordinary young people.


Apply Online

The 2018 Children's Defense Fund-Texas Beat the Odds® Scholarship Application
Submission Deadline: 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, November 30, 2017.

Apply Online Now

If you have questions about your application, please contact


For consideration in the CDF-Texas Beat the Odds scholarship, an applicant must:

  • Be a current high school senior in a Houston area (also includes: Dayton/Liberty county) public, charter, or alternative school;
  • Have overcome significant adversity such as, but not limited to, poverty, disability, homelessness or abuse;
  • Demonstrate participation in school activities, community organizations, employment, and/or service leadership;
  • Have a current G.P.A. of 3.0 or higher;
  • Graduate by July 2018; and
  • Plan to attend college, university, or vocational school post graduation.

Beat the Odds scholarship applications are reviewed by CDF-Texas 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 Luncheon in the Spring and posted online as part of CDF's YouTube library. Applicants must feel comfortable with sharing their stories publicly. 


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

  • 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
  • An educator recommendation from a teacher who knows the applicant well
  • A community member recommendation from a mentor, employer, or counselor who knows the applicant well
  • A high school transcript

Notifications will be made January - March. Recipients will be honored at the spring CDF-Texas Beat the Odds Awards Luncheon. 

Questions: Please email

Meet Our Past Honorees

Attention Beat the Odds Alumni

Complete this form to stay connected with CDF-Texas.

      Shahad Alfartosy
Angelica Carroll Benedicte Musimisa Emaline Robinson Khoa Tong
 2017 2017   2017  2017
Drew Bernard Christine Egu Taylor Garrett Bontu Workineh
2016 2016 2016 2016
Mikenzie Yates Alisa Hamilton Dayana Sosa Laurie Nowlin
2016 2015 2015 2015
Nelly Mendoza Ruth Rodriguez Kyle Dacdac Michelle Deveau
2015 2015 2014 2014
Elizabeth Donaciano Tiara Flowers Keith Klimitchek Ernesto Chun
2014 2014 2014 2013
Anna Dang Jamesia Fransaw Kaylee Lewis Kehinde Shittu
2013 2013 2013 2013
Samantha Beasley Keyaira Block Kasey Lewis Marcus Livingston, Jr.
2012 Houston 2012 Houston 2012 Houston 2012 Houston
Brittany Metzler Vanessa Alanis Janeli Hernandez Alvarado Tej Dahal
2012 Houston 2012 Dallas 2012 Dallas 2012 Dallas
Laura Morales Rafif Muhsin Katrina Taylor Marshall Schoen
2012 Dallas 2012 Dallas 2011 Houston 2011 Houston
Luis Gonzalez Nernwon Kargou Avery Gibson Julan Basnet
2011 Houston 2011 Houston 2011 Houston 2011 Dallas
Alexandre Pendergrass Ja'Mesha Morgan Kathleen Voirin Alexandria Emerson
2011 Dallas 2011 Dallas 2011 Dallas 2011 Dallas
Damber Khadka Priscilla Holmes Antonio De Jesus Palacios Aisha Fahradova
2011 Dallas 2011 Dallas 2010 Houston 2010 Houston
Shamso Hussein Kateri Perez Patricia Zamora Kaileah Seedorf
2010 Houston 2010 Houston 2010 Houston 2010 Houston
Prentice Richmond Jasmine Gibson Julie Negussie Randa Alraimi
2010 Dallas 2010 Dallas 2010 Dallas 2009
Cinthia Cortez Paul Ellis Yahir Rodriguez Rudy Torres
2009 2009 2009 2009
Feefelobari Yorka Susan Castillo Brandon Gassaway Fatma Kassim
2009 2008 2008 2008
Petra Villegas Sheehan Whelan Kaley Jagnanan Alena Frances
2008 2008 2008 2008
Anosha Azeemi Fanny Briceño Cortney Gee Ngan Ho
2007 2007 2007 2007
Zach Menk Christina Brugger Chelscie Irby James Onyirimba
2007 2006 2006 2006
Clemente Zamarripa Cinthya Peña Jesus Acosta Melissa Allen
2006 2006 2005 2005
Ashley Leath Gabriela Peña Irencarr Young  
2005 2005 2005  
Tamara Hall Crystal Johnson Juan Montelongo Roberto Niño
2003 2003 2003 2003
Kristin Ringo Candace Fitzgerald Fabiola Gonzalez Gregory Roberts
2003 2002 2002 2002
Maria Xiquin Itang Hope Young Vu Hung Dang Sonia Fuentes
2002 2002 2001 2001
Heather Griffin Maria Montelongo Alfonso Morales, Jr. Christopher Brock
2001 2001 2001 2000
Jose Moises Cedillos Gina Marie DeLeon Tiffany Garrett Damion Leonard
2000 2000 2000 2000
April Stevens Courtney Wyly Alberto Garcia Shantera Rayford
1999 1999 1999 1999
Katriska Evurunobi      

Attention Beat the Odds Alumni

CDF-Texas strives to stay connected with all our BTO alumni. Please complete this form to keep us updated with your current contact information. We appreciate your help!

For more information about the CDF-Texas Beat the Odds® program, please contact:

Cecilia Joseph Clarissa Webb
Director of Operations Youth Development Coordinator