Center for Student Opportunity

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Read about our merger with Strive for College!

There’s something special about being the first…especially being among the first in your family to attend and graduate from college.

That’s where Center for Student Opportunity (CSO) comes in. CSO is a national nonprofit based in Bethesda, Md. that works to empower first-generation college students on the path to and through college. We define “first-generation college student” as anyone whose parents or guardians have not completed a four-year college degree.We know that for students who don’t have a family history of higher education, being the first to go to college requires support and encouragement sometimes not found at home, in school, or in the community.

Since our inception in 2005, CSO has created tools and resources to help first-generation college students and their supporters—parents, counselors, and mentors—on the road to and through college.

In 2013, after winning the College Knowledge Challenge—a grant competition sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation—CSO launched I’m First! (, an online campaign celebrating first-generation college students and web application designed to help aspiring first-generation college students research and plan for college.

In addition to operating, CSO publishes the I’m First! Guide to College and maintains partnerships with colleges and universities across the country to strengthen and build awareness of their campus efforts supporting first-generation college students.