This November, we celebrate 10 years of our Annual Beat the Odds Scholarship Awards and Fundraising Luncheon. Stand’s end goal is to change the odds so that all children, regardless of their personal struggles, can graduate from high school prepared for college or career training.
More than a scholarship luncheon, Beat the Odds is a launching pad for the critical work Stand does to improve opportunities for Oregon students. Ten years ago, we welcomed inaugural keynote speaker Gov. Ted Kulongoski to the stage to help award the first three scholarships. In a perfect culmination of the work that Beat the Odds launched us into a decade ago, former Gov. Kulongoski recently joined Stand’s Executive Director Toya Fick as a petitioner for Measure 98, the ballot measure that will change the odds for tens of thousands of Oregon students.
Mayor-Elect Ted Wheeler joined up with 2007 scholarship winner Nawwal Moustafa to Emcee the luncheon in 2015.
Since the first event, Stand has awarded 34 scholarships and will award four more this year—three at November’s luncheon and an additional scholarship at a Eugene reception this spring. Our scholarship winners report an astounding 88 percent success rate, meaning they are either pursuing or have successfully completed their college degree.
"Reflecting on my time as a scholarship selection committee member, it's impossible to identify any one favorite moment. There are so many students, so many and varied stories. I think the best memories are meeting the winners in person at the awards ceremony and seeing their true appreciation and humbleness in winning a scholarship. They continue to beat the odds and amaze me as they head off for college. I keep the memories coming as I try and be friends with them on social media so I see all that they accomplish on their journeys." --Tom Hughes, corporate affairs manager at adidas and member of the Beat the Odds selection committee
Beat the Odds generates a huge portion of the revenue that drives our work. In 2016, the luncheon raised 25% of our total 501(C)(3) operating budget. Thanks to the family of donors that we have accumulated over the past 10 years, Stand has trained parents to advocate on behalf of their kids and all kids in their district, has seen landmark legislation through to implementation, including major improvements to English language development programs and teacher mentorship, and much more.
Each year we display photos of all the past winners at our check-in. Our Beat the Odds cohort has grown to include 34 winners – soon to be 38.
Many of the donors and Beat the Odds volunteers who were with us at the beginning are still with us today. As the longest standing table hosts, Gun Denhart, Jack Friedman and David Pollock have served as backbones to the event since its inception. Ted Gilbert has served with us longest on the scholarship selection committee. Stand for Children is incredibly grateful not only to those who have consistently supported Beat the Odds over the years, but to the newest members of our community who contribute to its success and growth!
The 2015 scholarship selection committee and winners from left, Ted Gilbert (the longest standing member), Carole Barron, Cindy Fontenot, Diana Hoff, winner Diana Salgado, Billy Ladd, winner Hernan Chávez-Avalos, winner Kaylee McBain, Tom Hughes, Executive Director Toya Fick, Brett Francesconi, 2007 winner Nawwal Moustafa, Ron Koos, and Erica Hagedorn.