Our Centers

CAO is making major investments in Historically Black College and Universities (HBCUs) to establish research centers and produce new research on the barriers to opportunity in fragile communities.


Center for the Study of Economic Mobility (CSEM)

Winston Salem State University

In September 2017, the Center for Advancing Opportunity (CAO) awarded Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) a five-year grant to launch the Center for the Study of Economic Mobility (CSEM). The new center will study the barriers to economic mobility in East Winston-Salem and Forsyth County. Why? Children from low-income families in Forsyth County are less likely to move up the income ladder as adults compared to kids almost anywhere else in the United States. CSEM will serve as a hub for faculty research, undergraduate student scholarships, and community outreach as they explore this issue. “It is crucial to understand just what is holding broad-based development and upward mobility back and how that might be changed at the local level,” said WSSU Economics Professor Craig Richardson, CSEM’s founding director. “The goal is to better understand how to remove barriers to economic and social development across the board.”


Learn more about CSEM's work here


Read the press release


CSEM Faculty: 
Craig Richardson, Founding Director
Alvin Atkinson, Associate Director


The Center for Justice Research

Texas Southern University

The Center for Justice Research (CJR) was launched in November 2017 with a five-year grant from CAO to produce innovative solutions to criminal justice reform and address challenges in America’s criminal justice system. CJR’s mission is to change the paradigm of how Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) address criminal justice reform by developing objective, evidence-based research. The goal is to develop and disseminate interdisciplinary criminal justice research to dismantle barriers faced by American citizens in fragile communities. The Center will be an incubator for policy-driven criminal justice research support, increase the research capacity of HBCU faculty in the field, and train and mentor graduate students interested in addressing issues surrounding mass incarceration.


Learn more about CJR's work here!


Read the press release


CJR Faculty:
Dr. Howard Henderson, Center Director



The Center for Educational Opportunity 

Albany State University

In April 2018, CAO awarded Albany State University a five-year grant to establish the Center for Educational Opportunity (CEO) and research ways families may obtain greater access to high-quality K-12 education. The Center’s interdisciplinary approach will promote research, innovation, and inquiry into issues relevant to K-12 education (and beyond) in order to improve products and services within the educational marketplace, especially for those living in fragile communities. The aim of the Center is to find ways, through research, to discover and uncover educational models, accessibility practices, innovations, and opportunities that can be operationalized, sustained, and shared in communities with the greatest need.


Read the press release


CeO Faculty:
Dr. Kathaleena Monds, Center Director