The Children's Defense Fund–California hosted its 26th Annual Beat the Odds Awards ceremony on December 1, 2016, at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, California.

Conan O'Brien Hosts Annual Beat the Odds Awards
Conan O'Brien Hosts Annual Beat the Odds Awards

The celebration honored five Los Angeles high school “stars” – Alexandra Flores, Cierra Gunderson, Destiny Novillo, Florencia Valenzuela, Jose Aceves – in recognition of their excellence in academic achievement, despite the overwhelming obstacles that stand in their way.

The momentous occasion was hosted by the Children’s Defense Fund President, Marian Wright Edelman, along with support from co-chairs Jurnee Smollett-Bell & Josiah Bell, Carol & Frank Biondi, Ruth-Ann Huvane, Kevin Huvane, Katie Sharer & Mark Mullen, and Liza & Conan O'Brien.

O’Brien served as the night’s emcee, with co-chair Smollett-Bell pulling double duty as a presenter during the program. She was joined by additional special guests including presenters Tory Kittles, Jennifer Morrison, Timothy Olyphant, and Milo Ventimiglia, and guests J.J. Abrams & Katie McGrath, Andy Buckley, Joel McHale, Kevin Nealon & Susan Yeagley, Keke Palmer, Glen Powell, Andy Richter, and more.

Thanks to generous support, each student honoree will receive a $10,000 college scholarship and support services including: private tutoring, one-on-one college counseling, ongoing mentoring, internship placements, life skills development, SAT prep, and week-long college tours at no cost.

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