Children's Defense Fund

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May 27, 2005  
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Dr. Phil Foundation Joins Forces with
CDF's Beat the Odds® Program

The Dr. Phil Foundation and the Children's Defense Fund (CDF) are joining forces to expand and enrich CDF's Beat the Odds program, which for 15 years has recognized the positive potential of students across the country who have achieved academic and personal success while overcoming tremendous obstacles in their lives.

Founded by Dr. Phil McGraw, host of one the most successful nationally syndicated television shows, the Dr. Phil Foundation has a strong commitment to improving the lives of children and families.

The Dr. Phil Foundation Beat the Odds program collaboration with CDF will help affirm the success of young people who are "beating the odds" and continuing to work hard, demonstrating academic excellence, and giving back to their communities. The Dr. Phil Foundation is funded by a variety of sources including significant contributions from Dr. Phil and his wife Robin, as well as the McGraw family. In addition to Dr. Phil, Robin McGraw and sons Jay and Jordan are active in the Dr. Phil Foundation and will be ambassadors to the community of underprivileged children.

Beat the Odds Award Winner
Melissa Frederickson and Dr. Phil

"I am so passionate about the belief that we've got to give our young people a chance," said Dr. Phil. "There are so many kids out there that are excelling despite the huge obstacles they face on a daily basis. So many of them just need an opportunity where they can showcase their talents and abilities...and our Beat the Odds program is there to do just that."

"Working with the Dr. Phil Foundation will help focus the public on ways we can all begin to make a positive difference in young people's lives," said Marian Wright Edelman, Founder and CEO of the Children's Defense Fund. "We are so looking forward to a long and productive relationship with this valuable friend of America 's children."

Many of the young people selected by CDF as Beat the Odds recipients over the last decade have made the transition to successful adulthood and are working in professions such as law, medicine, education, engineering and social work. These young men and women have succeeded despite overwhelming challenges that would have been insurmountable for many of their peers. They have received some guidance or support from a caring adult - a teacher, parent, law enforcement official, grandparent, pastor, counselor - which was often of critical importance to their ultimate success. In a culture that tends to focus on disappointment and failure, Beat the Odds students are shining examples of courage, resilience, persistence and hope.

In addition to helping these outstanding young people, this collaboration will bolster CDF's efforts to raise public awareness of some of the daunting obstacles faced by many children, including drug and alcohol abuse in the home, homelessness, foster care problems, inadequate health care, school challenges and the nation's troubled juvenile justice system.

The Dr. Phil Foundation and CDF launched the collaboration with a special "Kids Ask" episode of the Dr. Phil show. In the episode, which airs nationwide on Monday, May 30, a Beat the Odds winner, Melissa Frederickson talked to Dr. Phil about her desire to make a better life for herself and her family. Despite unbelievable odds, Melissa managed to rise above the destructive outcomes of her parent's drug and alcohol abuse. One of her leading priorities was to look after her younger sister Amber, who was equally affected by the parent's substance abuse. She often felt that she had to be perfect by hiding her past from others, which made it especially difficult to connect with other people her age.

Melissa has been accepted at a University in California where she will be majoring in Business this fall. Her aspiration is to one day obtain her dream job of being a sports team manager. She is also the sports editor of her high school yearbook and President of the California Scholarship Foundation. Melissa is well on her way to making her dreams a reality by continuing to pursue her goals -- an outstanding example of how young people can beat the odds -- by turning their crisis into a determination to succeed.

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More about CDF's Beat the Odds Program:

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The mission of the Children's Defense Fund is to Leave No Child Behind and to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start, and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities. CDF provides a strong, effective voice for all the children of America who cannot vote, lobby, or speak for themselves. We pay particular attention to the needs of poor and minority children and those with disabilities. CDF educates the nation about the needs of children and encourages preventive investment before they get sick, into trouble, drop out of school, or suffer family breakdown. CDF began in 1973 and is a private, nonprofit organization supported by foundation and corporate grants and individual donations. We have never taken government funds.


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