Chicago Leaders of Color Convene for 2018 #LeadTheSurge Reception

On June 7th, 2018, the Surge community packed Loft Lucia in Chicago for an inspiring night in support of expanding diversity in the city’s education leadership pipeline.

Among the guests were prospective Surge Fellows, partner organizations, and a broad community of education leaders connected to the Surge movement. Surge Chicago Executive Director Tamara Prather opened the evening, remarking on the continued growth and evolution of the Surge movement with fellowship being a central key to that growth.

Adding to the story of the evening was 2018 Surge Fellow A.J. Watson, who remarked on the community of like-minded supporters and confidants he’s gained since joining the fellowship. Nina Sanchez, a 2017 Surge Alumna, continued that through-line with her words, painting a vivid picture of the power of the collective.

Closing out the evening was Surge Founder and President Carmita Semaan, who drew on the energy of the room and remarked the importance of seeing so many leaders of color gathered in one place with a shared mission. “We need the skill to navigate systems, to change them,” Carmita said. “We need the will to do something differently, and we need the community. This is not superhero work. This is not the individual unicorn story. This is not Superman. This is Justice League.”

Watch the video below to see highlights from the evening!

Surge Awards Alumni with $60,000 in Venture Funding

Held at Quinlan School of Business at Loyola University, Surge Angels Pitch Night was a celebration of the creative genius of our people and an elevation of ventures primed to make an impact for our youth and communities of color.

The Surge Angels pilot program served our mission of supporting and elevating the continued work of our growing network of Surge Fellowship Alumni. A Walton Family Foundation-funded pilot program, Angels allowed our more entrepreneurial alumni the opportunity to secure funding, guidance, and support in taking their innovative ventures to the next level. The program culminated in Pitch Night, where nine alums pitched their mapped-out venture plan to expert judges in hopes of securing funding.

After seven pitches from nine Surge Alumni, we awarded $60,000 toward the growth and development of their ventures. Our first place winner, Grisel Maldonado, was awarded $15,000 toward her plan to expand the scope of Avanza Strategies, her educational program strategy consulting firm, to serve 20,000 students across 10 cities by 2020.

Overall Placement:

  • Grisel MaldonadoAvanza Strategies – $15,000 – 1st place

  • AJ DeLeon, Fernando DeLeon, Nick FreemanInnovare –  $12,500 – 2nd place

  • DuJuan Smith & Michael Johns – Seven7h Element –  $10,000 – 3rd place

  • Christopher Goins & D. Nigel Green – Black Male Teacher Project – $5,000 investment (and a $2,500 People’s Choice Award)

  • Marilyn RhamesTeachers Who Pray – $5K

  • Shenita Johnson – ElevatEd Spaces – $5K

  • Khadeejah Lasuc-Lewis – Anneal Leadership Strategies – $5K

Among the ventures were education consultancy firms, youth counseling programs, and teacher development initiatives, all with the ultimate goal of improving education for our communities.

Foundations represented at the event included NewSchools Venture Fund, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Camelback Ventures, and the Walton Family Foundation. Surge Alumni from our first three cohorts participated. 2017 Alumna Natalie Neris served as emcee for the evening.

The Surge Angels program consisted of a series of four sessions, in which the participants gathered to engage with experts in business growth and social impact, such as Maslow Development founder and Surge Faculty member Derwin Sisnett and Megan Kashner, an assistant professor and Director of Social Impact at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

This was truly a celebration of our movement and we are proud to support our alumni in turning their dreams into impact.

Bay Area Leaders Connect at Oakland #LeadTheSurge Reception

The 2019 Oakland Surge Fellowship is now accepting applications, and several of the Bay Area’s emerging education leaders of color showed up to our #LeadTheSurge reception at the Oakland Museum of California to learn more about the Surge experience. 

Guests heard from Oakland Executive Director Michelle Seijas, who told the story of the Surge movement and painted a picture of the fellowship experience. Ryan J. Smith, Vice President of the Education Trust, spoke about the need for the movements like Surge in the Bay Area. Nicole Magtoto, an inaugural Oakland Surge Fellow, shared the journey and impact of her fellowship experience. Finally, Surge Founder and President Carmita Semaan closed out the evening with a powerful charge to connect, not just with this movement, but with each other in opening up more opportunities for our youth of color.

Explore our website to learn more about how to become a 2019 Oakland Surge Fellow. See video of the evening below!

Surge Chicago Kicks Off 2019 Recruitment Season

The Surge Fellowship Chicago began recruitment season with a mixer, inviting prospective fellows to connect with the Surge community and learn more about this movement from the people who helped build it.

If you are interested in applying for the 2019 Surge Fellowship Chicago, please visit our Become a Fellow page to learn more. You can also register for one of our recruitment webinars to learn more about the application process.

Applications for the 2019 Surge Fellowship May 14, 2018.

Surge Community Unites in Learning to Build Wealth

In our continued mission to unite and elevate leaders of color, the Surge leadership team came together with more than 40 Surge Fellows and Alumni to learn how to build wealth from financial guru Stuart A. Taylor, II. It was a relaxed and informal evening with Taylor, in which the Surge community asked thoughtful questions about how to build wealth and Taylor provided honest answers and proven strategies for success.

Surge Founder Carmita Semaan took to social media to share her feeling about the evening. “It was honest…it was stimulating…and so necessary,” Semaan said. “Our people need and deserve so much more than ‘professional development.’ At Surge, it’s about pouring everything we have into our community. We are not just investing in leaders professionally…we are investing in the entirety of their being. I often say that we are digging wells from which we’ll never drink…and I mean it with all my heart. We are arming warriors who will change the game for our babies and their communities for generations to come. It’s a blessing and source of great pride to be able to do it.”

Stuart A. Taylor II has led a successful career in investment banking, proven by his execution of more than 50 major transactions in eight different countries. From 1999 to 2001, he served as Senior Managing Director of Bear, Stearns & Co. Inc., and Taylor serves as Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Analytic Innovations, LLC. Taylor has been the Chief Executive Officer of The Taylor Group LLC since June 2001.

 

The Power of Us: A Surge and Hamilton Connection

On Thursday, October 26, the Surge community convened to celebrate and share about the ongoing effort to expand diversity in the education leadership pipeline. Part of that celebration included attending Broadway in Chicago’s production of Hamilton as a family!

The evening was the result of fundraising and awareness effort in partnership with Broadway in Chicago and made possible by a generous donation from the Surge Institute Leadership Circle: Darryl and Angela Cobb, Nneka Rimmer and the Cleveland Avenue Foundation for Education. We did more than raise thousands of dollars toward this work. We built bridges and grew community.

The evening, in many ways, encapsulated the mission, the work and the significance of replacing the status quo with voices and cultures that understand the communities being served.

If you would like to support Surge and the work we do to bring more leaders of color to the decision making tables in education, please make a donation. Thank you to all who attended and supported The Power of Us!

2017 Surge Fellows Graduate!

 

Their moment has come! We proudly announce our 2017 Surge Fellowship graduates…The Guardians!

After a year of empowerment, enlightenment and engagement, the Fellowship ended with a fireside chat with Sylvia Puentes as well as inspiring and deeply impactful lessons from education leaders and friends of Surge, including Dr. Howard Fuller, Dr. Andre Perry, Ernesto Matias and Terra Winston.

In a beautiful closing ceremony, The Guardians and guests heard a poignant speech from Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx. Additionally, iMentor’s Chicago Executive Director Halleemah Nash was chosen by her fellow Guardians to deliver closing remarks on behalf of the cohort. Halleemah spoke of the strong foundation Surge provided as well as the importance of pressing collectively onward and upward to impact change. In her smooth and deliberate cadence, Halleemah summed up what she and her fellow Guardians would carry with them: “We are exiting this sacred space with an elevated brand, a greater capacity for advocacy, a deeper self-identity, and the charge to truly live out what it means to be Guardians.”

Also providing a charge to the graduates was 2016 Surge Alum Marilyn Rhames, who shed light on her transformative Surge experience and her subsequent upward trajectory as a voice in education thought leadership. Marilyn spoke of taking her own Teachers Who Pray movement to the next level and attributed her amazing strides to the lessons she learned as a Surge Fellow.

The Guardians are onto the next step — changing systems to drive those improved outcomes —and your support of this movement has helped make it so. Our young people are not simply in good hands with the Guardians; they are in authentic, excellent, and prepared hands, as well.

 

#LeadTheSurge 6.6.17 Reception

On June 6th, 2017, the Surge community packed Nellcôte for an inspiring night in support of expanding diversity in Chicago’s education leadership pipeline. Among the guests were prospective Surge Fellows, partner organizations, and a broad community of education leaders connected to the Surge movement.

Speakers included Senior Vice President of Community Investment for United Way Jose Rico, 2016 Surge Fellow Khadeejah Lasuc-Lewis, 2017 Surge Fellow Andres Avila, Surge Board Chair Darryl Cobb and Surge Chicago Executive Director Tamara Prather.

Watch the video below to see highlights from the evening!

2017 Surge Cocktail Party

The Surge Alumni Social Committee once again knocked it out of the park, this time bringing together Surge staff, alumni, fellows and supporters for the first annual cocktail party! The party represented a hopeful look to the future, celebrating our largest cohort of fellows, the growing families of our alumni and the exciting upcoming advancements at Surge.

2016 Surge Fellowship Capstone Presentations and Graduation


The 2016 Surge Fellowship concluded the weekend of September 20th. Wrapping up their 10-month Fellowship, the 2016 Surge Fellows—aka The Vanguards—presented their final capstone projects. On Saturday, September 20th, Surge welcomed the Vanguards into the alumni family with a graduation luncheon at McDonald’s Hamburger University. The Vanguards enjoyed a private ceremony with their families, their coaches, and the Surge staff in attendance. The ceremony included a speech by 2016 Fellow Marilyn Rhames, who shared moving reflections about the Fellowship experience, and community leader Juan Salgado‘s address left attendees inspired for change. It was a lovely afternoon!