Advances in Space Research: We present a report of recent progress on the topic of understanding solar coronal mass ejection (CME) onset from both modeling and observational viewpoints, as carried out from 2019 to the present by the NASA Living with a Star Focused Science Topic team on “Understanding the Onset of Major Solar Eruptions.” Following the typical Focused Science Topic paradigm, a number of research groups were selected and joined together to tackle this problem. The work being carried out by this team explores the role of topology and of helicity transport in creating an environment favorable to CME eruption and in then providing the energy required for CME onset. The team investigated CME energization and initiation via photospheric shearing, via flux rope formation, and via magnetic flux emergence. This article will highlight recent progress made by six American research groups working in these areas. We do not intend to present an exhaustive review of these topics, but rather summarize the ideas from these research groups regarding ongoing and upcoming challenges to the questions of how, when, and why coronal mass ejections erupt from the sun.