What is CeO?


Since 1993, the Center for Educational Opportunity (CeO) has focused on ensuring equal access and opportunity, supporting social-economic mobility, improving financial literacy, and fostering a supportive institutional climate for eligible students through two federal grant funded TRIO programs, Student Support Services and Student Support Services-STEM, and the state-funded Academic Success and Achievement Program (ASAP). The CeO staff creates a community that helps students explore and create connections while achieving their academic goals. More information about eligibility can be found here.

Our Mission

The Center for Educational Opportunity (CeO) fosters the success of undergraduate first-generation, income-eligible, and/or students with disabilities by supporting their engagement and progress towards graduation. Our holistic approach to empowering this diverse community of learners is grounded in the belief that all students should have the opportunity to reach their full academic, career, and personal potential.

Our Vision

CeO is a model for serving eligible students by collaborating to foster a campus community supportive of student success and academic achievement while inspiring students to become resilient, resourceful, lifelong learners equipped to engage as global citizens and leaders.

More information about eligibility can be found here.

CeO's History at UW-Madison

The Center for Educational Opportunity (CeO) began in 1993 with the award of the federally-funded TRIO Student Support Services (SSS) grant. TRIO is our nation’s commitment to the dream of education for all Americans regardless of race, ethnic background, abilities, or economic circumstances. The SSS grant was first written by the School of Education Assistant Dean Walter Lane and awarded to the University of Wisconsin Madison by the Department of Education.

Dr. Brenda Pfaehler HeadshotDr. Brenda Pfaehler became the first director of the TRIO Student Support Services program at UW-Madison. Dr. Pfaehler was committed to providing equal opportunity and equity in education. She strongly believed that everyone can excel and created the initial SSS community that still serves as an example for the program today. Although Dr. Pfaehler passed away in 1996, her passion for student achievement continually fuels the staff’s desire to strive for excellence in serving students.

In 2009, the TRIO Student Support Services program was renamed the Center for Educational Opportunity. In 2015, CeO expanded the center again with the award of an additional federally-funded TRIO grant from the Department of Education, Student Support Services-STEM (SSS-STEM).