What is CeO?


Since 1993, the Center for Educational Opportunity (CeO) has endeavored to ensure equal access/opportunity, support social-economic mobility, improve financial literacy, and foster a supportive institutional climate for eligible students. Explore CeO eligibility requirements. The CeO staff creates a high-impact learning community that both nurtures and challenges, while helping students acclimate and connect to resources and campus life.

Our Mission

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

Our Vision

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

More information about eligibility can be found on our Prospective Students page.

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).