Inside the Children's Defense Fund's Beat the Odds Gala


Inside the Children’s Defense Fund’s Beat the Odds Gala

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(L-R) Actors Jennifer Morrison, Keke Palmer and Jurnee Smollett-Bell attend the 26th Annual Beat The Odds Awards, hosted by Children's Defense Fund
(L-R) Actors Jennifer Morrison, Keke Palmer and Jurnee Smollett-Bell attend the 26th Annual Beat The Odds Awards, hosted by Children’s Defense Fund

Photo Credit: Getty Images for Children’s Defense Fund

The Children’s Defense Fund–California hosted its 26th Annual Beat the Odds™ Awards ceremony Thursday evening at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills.

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. In turn, 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.

 

Milo Ventimiglia speaks onstage during the 26th Annual Beat The Odds Award
Milo Ventimiglia speaks onstage during the 26th Annual Beat The Odds Award

Photo Credit: Getty Images for Children’s Defense Fund

The haute event 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.

Host Conan O'Brien (L) and actor Timothy Olyphant
Host Conan O’Brien (L) and actor Timothy Olyphant

Photo Credit: Getty Images for Children’s Defense Fund

The Children’s Defense Fund-California (CDF-CA) is the state office of the Children’s Defense Fund, a national child advocacy organization founded by Marian Wright Edelman that has worked relentlessly for over 40 years to ensure a level playing field for all children. CDF-CA was established in 1998 to meet the needs of underserved children in the state of California.  With offices in Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento and Long Beach, CDF-CA champions policies and programs that lift children out of poverty, ensure all children have access to health coverage and care and a quality education, and invest in our justice-involved youth.

Comedian Joel McHale (R) and Sarah Williams
Comedian Joel McHale (R) and Sarah Williams

Photo Credit: Getty Images for Children’s Defense Fund

Director J.J. Abrams (R)
Director J.J. Abrams (R)

Photo Credit: Getty Images for Children’s Defense Fund

 

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