Beat the Odds – Minnesota Program

>>Beat the Odds – Minnesota Program
Beat the Odds – Minnesota Program2020-10-27T09:25:27-06:00

CDF-MN’s  Beat the Odds Scholarship Program

CDF’s Beat the Odds® (BTO) program honors outstanding high schools students who face tremendous adversity, demonstrate academic excellence and give back to their communities. Started in 1993, the program identifies and honors these young people and supports them to become future leaders. Their powerful stories of resilience, courage, determination, and hope inform CDF’s efforts to change the odds for all children and serve as a stirring reminder and call to action for change-makers, policymakers, and every one of us to renew our commitment to children and youth.


Each year, through a competitive review process, we select five outstanding high school seniors from the Twin Cities metropolitan area to be honored with the Beat the Odds scholarship. These scholars are honored at the annual CDF-MN Beat the Odds event.

The five honorees who are selected by the Beat the Odds Selection Committee will receive the following:

  • A one-time $5,000 scholarship to a post-secondary educational institution. The scholarship award may be applied to any educational expenses such as tuition/fees, books, or university room/board for up to four years from the time the scholarship is awarded.
  • A laptop computer and a laptop sleeve, as well as a one-year subscription to Microsoft Office.
  • A $100.00 clothing allowance to be used for purchasing dress attire for the awards ceremony.
  • Honors at the annual CDF-MN Beat the Odds event. Professional films of each finalist’s story will also be produced. These films may also be shared with the media, sponsors, supporters and the broader public, as well as posted on our website.


Eligibility Requirements

In order to be considered for the Children’s Defense Fund-MN Beat the Odds scholarship award, an applicant must:

  • Be a current high school senior who resides in or attends school in the broader Twin Cities Metro area.
    • Diversity in geographic representation will be considered.
  • Be on track to graduate by June 2021.
  • Demonstrate academic achievement and have post-secondary or training goals at a college, university or other institution of learning, as well as potential for post-secondary success.
    • There is no GPA requirement to apply.
  • Have faced challenges related to one or more of CDF’s policy priorities:
    • Child poverty
    • Child health
    • Early childhood development
    • Education
    • Child welfare
    • Youth justice
    • Gun violence
  • Have limited family and/or community support and/or limited income.
  • Demonstrate commitment to your community and/or social justice.
  • Be available for meetings, including photo shoots and interviews, from November 2020 through April 2021
    • It is possible that these events will be held either in person or virtually depending on the situation regarding COVID-19 and guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health at the time of the events.


 Each application must consist of:

  • A completed student application form.
  • A personal statement, of no more than 750 typed words, that accomplishes the following:
    • Describes the major obstacles and challenges in your life and how you have overcome them;
    • Describes your past and current family, financial, educational and emotional support systems;
    • Describes how you have been able to achieve academic success or show marked improvement in academics despite your hardships;
    • Describes your commitment to serving others, for example, involvement in service clubs at school or community organizations or taking on major home and work responsibilities
    • It is preferable if this be saved as a PDF with the APPLICANT’S NAME in the file title, for example: Jane Doe_Beat the Odds.PDF
      • Microsoft Word files are also accepted, however, the system cannot accept files submitted as Google Docs.
  • A completed nominator form (This is sent to the nominator after the student application is received).
  • A 1 page nomination letter on behalf of the nominee(s) that addresses the following:
    • The reasons for nominating the student, including a description of the obstacles this student has overcome;
    • The length of time nominator has known the student;
    • A description of how the student has demonstrated leadership skills
    • A description of any additional personal achievements the student has attained


Since 1993, CDF-MN has awarded more than 300 scholarships to outstanding youth in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. The celebration raises funding needed to sustain the organization’s Leave No Child Behind® mission.

CDF-MN’s annual Beat the Odds celebration also 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. As CDF-MN’s only annual fundraiser, the event raises needed funding to sustain the organization’s ongoing efforts on behalf of all Minnesota children.


For questions about applying for the Beat the Odds Scholarship, contact Beat the Odds Minnesota (

For sponsorships, tickets or other questions about our Beat the Odds Annual Event, contact Yvonne Lerew (

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