Beat the Odds® Program

The Children's Defense Fund-Ohio Beat the Odds® scholarship program honors outstanding high school students who have overcome tremendous adversity, demonstrated academic excellence and given back to their communities.  Annually, CDF-Ohio identifies five Ohio high school students to honor and support by providing each with a $5,000 college scholarship, a laptop computer, an invitation to join CDF’s youth leadership development programs, and other support.  These five extraordinary young people are introduced and honored and their stories of perseverance and determination are shared at an event that helps to raise awareness about the challenges facing Ohio children and the need for continued advocacy and investment.  The individual experiences and stories of these young people contribute to CDF’s ongoing efforts to shape policies and change the odds for all children.


Each year, five Ohio high school students are selected from the applicant pool by our Beat the Odds® Selection Committee based on their financial need, academic achievement, leadership, character and contributions to jobs, family, school and community.

Ohio Beat the Odds scholarship recipients receive the following:

  • A $5,000 college scholarship paid (over four years) directly to the college/university
  • A laptop computer
  • Special recognition at the annual Beat the Odds Ceremony
  • Opportunities to participate in CDF-OH policy and programs, CDF Freedom Schools® program, Young Advocate Leadership Training® (YALT®) and Proctor Institute
  • Membership to an extensive Beat the Odds alumni network
How to Apply

Information regarding the 2018 Children's Defense Fund-Ohio Beat the Odds® Scholarship Application will be available soon.


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

  1. Be a current high school senior in Ohio 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;
  5. Have a current G.P.A. of 3.0 or higher; and
  6. Graduate by July 2018.

Beat the Odds scholarship applications are reviewed by staff and a civic 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 the Spring 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:

  • 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.

Questions: Please email

Beat the Odds® Winners

Hear the stories of scholarship winners.

The courageous stories of our scholarship winners help raise awareness and provide inspiration for others facing similar challenges.

Sara Abou Rashed Abigail Huffman Ciara Scott Tenneeyah Hale
2017 2017 2017 2017
Terrell Johnson Darrius McLean Ebi Reyes-Leiva Emily Wilcox
2017 2016 2016 2016
Journae' Morris Linda Ransom Alberto Jones Ayriq Sims
2016 2016 2015 2015
Britiny Lee Kaylyn Sigman Walter Thompson Asiae Roberts
2015 2015 2015 2014
Carmen Griffith Paóla Benefo Theresa Tran Rebecca Finley
2014 2014 2014 2014
Amber Rohrer Clara Smith DeVon Jennings  Joshua Jenkins
2012 2012 2012 2012
Indyasia Johnson
Annual Awards Celebration

Each spring, we celebrate the achievements of five of our most outstanding Beat the Odds® honorees.  This event recognizes and commemorates the strength, resilience, and determination that our honorees demonstrate both inside and outside of the classroom.  The event also helps to raise awareness about the challenges facing Ohio children and the need for continued advocacy and investment. 


For more information about CDF-Ohio’s Beat the Odds program or ceremony, please contact: Pamela Kreber