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BTO Page Template2021-01-31T17:09:55-06:00

Congratulations, Class of 2021 Honorees


Photos courtesy of Elizabeth Zalanga

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.


Want to Apply?

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 2022.
  • 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
    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 2021 through April 2022.
  • 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.

The Class of 2021 Application deadline has passed.

Check back this summer for Class of 2022 application information.

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