How to Apply

The 2017 Children's Defense Fund Beat the Odds® Scholarship Application

Submission Deadline: December 9, 2016

Download the following forms:

     1. 2016 CDF Beat the Odds Scholarship - Eligibility and Guidelines
     2. 2016 CDF Beat the Odds Scholarship - Application
     3. 2016 CDF Beat the Odds Scholarship - Educator Recommendation Form
     4. 2016 CDF Beat the Odds Scholarship - Community Member Recommendation Form 

All forms must be completed on a computer and submitted to Handwritten or scanned applications are not preferred.

A Complete Application Packet Includes:

  • Application Form
  • Educator Recommendation
  • Community Member Recommendation  
  • High School Transcript 

Submission Instructions:

Counselors and students: Please read all posted instructions carefully prior to completing the application.

  • Adobe Reader is required to view and complete all forms. If you do not have Adobe Reader, download the free plugin:
  • Please download and save a copy of each form to a secure location on your computer.
  • Open your local copy of each document and type directly into the form.
  • Please carefully review your application with a counselor before you submit.
  • When you are ready to submit your completed forms, click the SUBMIT button at the bottom of the form.
  • In the email subject line, clearly note the applicant's full name (example: APPLICANT'S FULL NAME - BTO APPLICATION).  
  • Please DO NOT scan or fax. If you have trouble with any forms, send an email to:

Helpful Tips:

Scholarship applicants are strongly advised to work with a counselor or adult mentor whom they trust, who is both willing and able to shepherd the student throughout the application, selection and award process. We recommend that the counselor or mentor review the student's essay to ensure it sets forth all relevant details, is appropriate, meets eligibility guidelines, and arrives on or before the deadline. 


Applicants for the CDF Beat the Odds scholarship must meet ALL of the following criteria:

  • Has experienced and overcome adversity such as (but not limited to) poverty, disability, homelessness or abuse
  • Has demonstrated a commitment to community service, volunteerism, and leadership
  • Has achieved a minimum 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 point scale
  • Presently a senior enrolled in a Houston area (including Dayton/Liberty county) public, charter, or alternative school
  • Will graduate by June of the present school year
  • Will attend college, university, or vocational school by the following Fall
  • Is a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident


  • Each winner will receive a $5,000 scholarship paid (over 4 years) directly to the college/university upon registration.
  • Additional gifts may include a laptop computer, airplane ticket, professional attire, and college dorm living essentials.
  • Winners will be offered ongoing mentorship and guidance, with opportunities to take part in leadership development, advocacy training, internships, and networking with national and local civic leaders, during college and beyond.


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