Ja’Nay Carter

Most young adults are able to focus on their studies and hang out with their friends but, that wasn’t the case for 18-year-old Ja’Nay Carter. Carter’s life story isn’t picture perfect. She along with her five siblings were raised by their single-parent mother. Her father, who is incarcerated, could not provide for his family with emotional or financial support. As the third oldest sibling, Carter had responsibilities and chores which included helping her younger sisters and brother with homework. However, as her mother became ill, Carter’s household chores began to stack up.  She began grocery shopping, cooking dinner, and caring for her sick mother.  

“Everybody else had a mother that could do stuff for them, me and my sister were the mother figures to our sisters and brothers, so it was really hard doing everything that my mom couldn’t do for them.” 

As time progressed, Carter continued to grow up and soon began the seventh grade. Unfortunately, her mother’s health continued to decline and in September of 2011, she passed away from an autoimmune disease. After her mother’s passing, Carter and her siblings lived with their extended family, which included their godmother, grandmother, and aunt. With the support of her family, she took on the role of raising her younger siblings.  

“I don’t think nobody else can go through what I went through and survive like I did and still be a happy person,” said Carter. “My mom was a funny and outgoing lady. She was always there when we needed her and she always had our back.” 

“Today, I am a survivor because of my mother. She was hardworking, never gave up, even when she was sick and in pain, she loved me and my siblings unconditionally and taught me to strive toward my dreams. She would be proud of the person I am today,” said Carter.

Some of the greatest advice Carter’s mother gave to her was to, “make your dreams come true.”  

“My mother always told me that I’m her genius child. She wanted me to be somebody in life and she wanted me to be better than her. She didn’t want me to go through what she went through. She believed in me and wanted me to go to a four-year university,” said Carter.  

Carter’s greatest challenge was and still is living without her mother but, she was determined to focus on her education. Carter used adversity as a tool to motivate and drive her to excel academically, which allowed her to rise as a top scholar in school. Over time, she maintained a 4.1 GPA all while taking care of her siblings.  

“My family always told me that they believe I will be somebody,” she said. “They also told me not to give up no matter what, and keep doing what you’re doing, your mother would be proud.” 


Beat The Odds

The CDF Beat the Odds® program honors outstanding high schools students who have overcome tremendous adversity, demonstrated academic excellence and given back to their communities. Started in 1990, the program identifies and rewards young people who have experienced significant hardship in their lives and supports and trains them to become future leaders in adulthood. Their grit and resilience are overwhelming. Their stories give hope and remind us that none of us have a right to give up on any child or youth.


Each year the CDF Beat the Odds scholarship program selects five high school freshmen who are overcoming tremendous adversity, demonstrating academic commitment and giving back to their communities. Program participants receive the following support needed to matriculate and succeed in college and beyond:

  • 10,000 scholarship

  • College test preparation

  • Access to workshops focused on financial aid, financial literacy and essay writing

  • College counseling and mentoring

  • Access to college fairs

  • Internship referrals

  • Career, and life skills development

  • Assistance with the college or post-secondary education enrollment process

Additionally, each scholarship recipient will be recognized at the annual CDF Beat the Odds Awards gala in December 2019. Professional, autobiographical films will be produced and shown during the awards ceremony.

Please note all services are offered in the City of Los Angeles and are subject to change

Eligibility Requirements

For consideration in the CDF-California Beat the Odds Scholarship Program, an applicant must:

  1. Be a current high school freshman who lives or goes to school in the greater Los Angeles area;

  2. Be nominated by a teacher, counselor, caseworker or any other unrelated adult who can speak to applicant’s character, commitment to their education, commitment to social justice/community, and the tremendous odds overcome;

  3. Demonstrate progress in overcoming tremendous adversity;

  4. Demonstrate participation in school activities, community organizations, employment, and/or service leadership;

  5. Graduate by July 2022; and

  6. Plan to attend a college, university or vocational school post-graduation.


Jalya Gordon & Jaylan Gordon

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Hadassah Johnson


Yurhynis Bobo