On Monday, February 25, 2019, the Children's Defense Fund – New York (CDF-NY) will host its annual Beat the Odds (BTO) Gala at the Pierre Hotel in New York City.

The annual event will honor five extraordinary high school seniors from across New York City that have overcome tremendous adversity including poverty to excel academically and give back to their communities. These five students are part of the CDF-NY’s Beat the Odds scholarship program. BTO provides social and academic college readiness to these high school students and offers scholarship opportunities and support services to aid scholars throughout their college career — including ongoing mentoring, internship placements and career guidance. At the gala, these students will be awarded $10,000 scholarships.

“The extraordinary young people that we are honoring have successfully overcome tremendous adversity and we are so proud of all that they have accomplished, "said Marian Wright Edelman, Founder and President Emerita of the Children’s Defense Fund. “They are proof that especially in these uncertain and challenging times, it is our exceptional young people who will guide us into a brighter future.”

This year’s recipients are Elian Villar from the Manhattan Academy for Arts and Language in New York, NY; Julia Alverenga from the International Community High School in the Bronx, NY; Kylie Gil from A. Philip Randolph High School Campus in New York, NY; Melissa Sepulveda from The Young Women’s Leadership School in New York, NY; and Digna Castillo from the Urban Assembly School for the Performing Arts in New York NY. Brief bios for these students can be found below.

In addition to honoring these incredible students, CDF-NY will celebrate the Honorable Eric H. Holder, Jr, former U.S. Attorney General; Chelsea Clinton, the Vice Chair of the Clinton Foundation; James Shaw Jr., the Waffle House Hero and Humanitarian; and Julia Cordover, a student activist and former Student Body President of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland FL. Each of these honorees will be awarded for their work to improve the lives of children and youth. They demonstrate unique dedication to the belief that every child deserves a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Startand a Moral Startto life. Each recipient of the award is acutely aware that a child’s successful passage to adulthood can only happen with resources, dedicated individuals, and the help of caring families and communities.

This year’s gala will put a special emphasis on the incredible impact of CDF’s advocacy, the BTO program, the importance of youth activism and the legacy of Marian Wright Edelman.

“Organizations like CDF are absolutely essential to developing the next generation of leaders in our country: advocates, public policy leaders, folks who will go on to serve in elected office, appointed office, people who will organize in communities to make a difference,” said Tony West, Chief Legal Officer, Uber. “If we don’t have the incubators to educate young people and equip them with the tools to be effective in that way, then we won’t have that ability to harness the power of youth to translate that into real consequential change for our country.”

The Beat the Odds Gala is CDF-NY’s premiere fundraising event held annually to support the organization’s advocacy and programmatic work, which includes health care coverage and care, youth justice, immigration, income security and youth leadership development. To purchase tickets for the Beat the Odds Gala, and learn more about the event, please click here; and for more information about CDF-NY visit www.cdfny.org.

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