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 $3 million 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 basically to better understand how to remove barriers to economic and social development across the board.”


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) is a new initiative designed 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.


Read the press release


CJR Faculty:
Dr. Howard Henderson, Center Director