Our Story

Our Mission
Our mission is to move people living in fragile communities from promise to prosperity. We accomplish this by listening to their aspirations, fears, and recommendations; supporting researchers who are best-positioned to explore communities’ most pressing issues; and, using their findings to inform public, private, and community-based solutions.


Our Philosophy
CAO believes the best way to advance opportunity is by listening to people in search of it and then equipping them with the intellectual and financial capital to create solutions. Opportunity should be available to everyone. We serve as a stakeholder in this important human endeavor.


Our Founding
In 2015, TMCF’s former President & CEO, Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., heard Mr. Charles Koch giving an interview on television about eliminating barriers to opportunity and he sent him a letter about partnering with TMCF. Forty-eight hours after receiving the letter, the Charles Koch Foundation contacted Johnny to set up a meeting. Since then, this relationship has bloomed into the founding of CAO.


About Us
Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the Center for Advancing Opportunity is a research and education initiative created by a partnership with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, the Charles Koch Foundation, and Koch Industries. CAO supports faculty and students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other postsecondary institutions to develop research-based solutions to the most challenging issues in education, criminal justice, and entrepreneurship. Our constituency is people living in fragile communities and they are members of all races, ethnicities, and religions.




  • Koch Industries owns a diverse group of companies integral to creating life’s basic necessities: food, shelter, clothing and transportation.

  • Formed in 1987 and named for the U.S. Supreme Court’s first African American Justice, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) represents all Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and its member-schools.  

  • The Charles Koch Foundation has been working to help people improve their lives by advancing an understanding of the benefits of free societies since its founding in 1980.