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Surge Fellowship Alumnus Joins Leadership Team

The Surge Institute is proud to announce that 2017 Surge Fellowship Alumnus William J. Collins has joined our leadership team as Vice President of Development and External Affairs.

In this role, William will serve the Surge mission by leading our fundraising and partnership-building strategies, overseeing a team focused on securing the future sustainability and growth of our movement. William will work closely with Founder and President Carmita Semaan, as well as the Surge national team to achieve these needs.

As an alumnus of the Surge Fellowship, William brings a special connection to the Surge mission, which he elaborates on in his statement about his new role:

“I am so excited to join the Surge team because this movement is permanently apart of my heart and soul. The Surge Fellowship experience was so deeply transformational for me as a black man in education, and I see my work now as a staff member being the ultimate way to pay it forward.  I am deeply honored to serve alongside Carmita and the rest of the Surge team as an energetic champion for this life changing and historic work.  I am incredibly energized by our plans to #LeadThe Surge across this country as more leaders of color deserve the chance to develop the skills they need to be seen and heard wherever decisions are made on behalf of the students they serve.  Surge is home for me – I’m so happy to be here.”

We are honored and proud to call William a member of the team.

Will’s Background

William previously served as Vice President of External Affairs for OneGoal-Chicago, a college access and persistence organization working towards closing the college divide for young people across the country.

In this role, William’s mission was to ensure OneGoal-Chicago maintained its financial stability by maintaining and growing a diversified and sustainable investor base, building efficiencies of scale to keep the revenue goal manageable and increase awareness and the sense of urgency to close the college degree divide within the Chicago as well as build OneGoal’s reputation as a leader in the college access and success movement and elevate the voices and stories of the OneGoal community.

Beginning his career in corporate America, William’s business acumen, strategic thinking and financial prowess allowed him to climb the ranks at several Fortune 500 companies, including Target and The Home Depot. Despite his corporate success, William constantly sought to fill a void in his life. It was in his decision to become an educator, following in the footsteps of his mother — an educator serving Chicago Public Schools for over three decades — when William knew he had found his calling.

William has always believed that life’s most important and urgent question is, “What are you doing for others?” To that end, William left a lucrative career in the corporate world in 2009 and pursued a career in teaching. For six years, William taught economics and finance at the award-winning Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences, of which he is an alumnus. While there, he made lifelong connections with his students through education and mentoring. In 2013, William received the Chicago Public Schools’ Exemplary Teacher Award from the Office of College and Career Success, which recognized him for his demonstrated excellence in teaching and learning and for exceptional contributions to the profession.

William holds a Master of Education in curriculum studies and administration from DePaul University and a Bachelor of Science in economics from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, to which he received a full academic scholarship. In 2014, he was selected as an Education Pioneers Fellow, where he completed a strategic review of the resource allocation process for the Office of Diverse Learners Supports and Services at the Chicago Public Schools’ Central Office. That same year, he also wrote a full-length essay entitled,“Education, Democracy and Social Discourse: A Contemporary Response to George S. Counts and Boyd H. Bode” in the Schools: Studies in Education journal, published by the University of Chicago.

In 2016, William was named one of Chicago’s Top 35 Under 35 Making an Impact by Chicago Scholars. During this same year, William was welcomed to the third cohort of Fellows for the Surge Institute, an elite leadership accelerator that was designed to identify and groom emerging talent in education and provide them with leadership development as well as access to networks and visibility, empowering them to bring new ideas, perspectives and solutions that change the landscape of education.

William is an authentic and passionate leader who has dedicated his career to moving the needle of college completion for the marginalized and oppressed. As a native of the South Side of Chicago, he saw the value of education as a means to escape adversity. He fundamentally believes that every student deserves the chance to attain a college degree and the life that comes with it. He is also an active member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. and a committed mentor to many college students. William is a music enthusiast and an avid international traveler. He currently resides in Chicago, IL.

Surge Welcomes 2019 Chicago Fellows

From an impressive pool of applicants, 25 African American and Latinx leaders were selected for the 2019 Chicago Fellowship program.

In October, the 2019 cohort will begin the year-long program in October, which grooms emerging diverse talent, empowering them to change the landscape of education by providing them with unique leadership and advocacy skills.

“Being a part of the Surge Fellowship will help me to grow as a leader in order to affect change in educational and administrative practices, to empower the growth and achievement of Chicago youth and communities of color,” shared 2019 Surge Fellow Jordan Owens, Speech, Language, and Audiology Coordinator at Chicago Public Schools. “I wholeheartedly believe in the power of collective work and the power of like-minded individuals to affect significant change.”

The following is a list of the 2019 Chicago Surge Fellows:

“I believe that it is important for our African American and Latinx youth to see leaders who look like them, working together and fighting for educational access and advancement in order to cultivate strong leaders and even stronger communities,” concluded Owens.

The Surge Fellowship program provides fellows with executive skill training, leadership development and a space for connection; and in doing so equips fellows with the tools and networks needed to facilitate transformative change within institutions and organizations serving youth and communities of color. Graduating fellows become part of an elite and growing national network of Surge Alumni. As of August 2018, Surge has more than 80 fellowship alumni leading change in cities across the U.S.

Surge Institute Welcomes 2019 Oakland Fellows

Eleven leaders from across the Bay Area education landscape, have been selected for the 2019 Surge Oakland Fellowship program. The year-long cohort based program unites, accelerates and empowers emerging leaders of color in education.

The Surge Institute officially began serving Bay Area communities in January 2018 with the opening of their west coast office and kickoff of an inaugural Oakland Surge Fellowship. Both the inaugural and 2019 cohorts (each) consist of eleven African American, Latinx and Asian/Pacific Islander emerging education leaders.

“What I love about Surge’s vision is that it’s not just focused on developing my capacity in my role, but it’s about equipping me to transform the education ecosystem alongside other educational leaders … equipping us for widespread impact,” shared 2019 Surge Oakland Fellow, Janelle Bailey, Interim Site Director/Academic Affairs Director at College Track.

The following is a list of the 2019 Oakland Surge Fellows:

Program Manager for Surge Oakland, Yvonne Rodriguez and Surge Executive Coach, Brian Gadsden, meet with candidates on selection day.

Over the course of the Fellowship program, fellows will receive executive skill training, leadership development, a space for connection, and the tools and networks needed to facilitate transformative change within institutions and organizations serving youth and communities of color.

The cohort will also develop their own leadership and advocacy skills. As a culminating final step of the program, Fellows will complete individual capstone projects to advance the work of a new or existing Oakland education initiative.

“I’m inspired by Surge’s investment in leaders of color and I’m excited to build on my experience through the intentional, accelerated leadership development of the Surge Fellowship in a network of African American, Latinx, and Asian-Pacific Islander educators,” continued Bailey.

Graduating fellows become part of an elite and growing national network of Surge Alumni. In 2018 there will be over 80 Surge Fellowship Alumni leading change in cities across the US.

Featured Fellow: Randal Seriguchi Jr. on Believing in our Children

Randal Seriguchi Jr. is a 2018 Surge Fellow (Oakland). He also wants to compete with the school-to-prison pipeline and believes that every child can learn at high levels when given the right tools, adult leadership, and environment to thrive.

Randy’s Work

As the Executive Director of Urban Ed Academy, Randy has created a strong web of multi-sector partnerships that has resulted in a robust portfolio of funders, deeper relationships with the city, and the pending transformation of a neighborhood liquor store into a technology learning center.

“I believe every child can learn when they are given the right supports,” Randy says his personal mission. “The reason I’m in this work is because that belief is strong. It’s not going away.”

Randy and his team presenting to judges during the 2018 Oakland Shark Tank presentations.

Randy’s Background

Randy Seriguchi, Jr. is the Executive Director of Urban Ed Academy (UEA), a non-profit based in Bayview Hunters Point in San Francisco, CA that serves elementary school boys of color. He believes success for our boys should come by any means necessary. Money, resources, and time should be spent until we get our intended result: focused development of boys who will become productive men.

In another life, Randy is a scratch golfer and has a photographic memory. In this life, he is a hall of fame shower soloist, a mama’s boy, and makes a mean omelet.

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Surge Angels: Turning Vision into Impact

In Surge’s continued mission to elevate the growing network of alumni, we are proud to pull back the curtain on Surge Angels, a Walton Family Foundation-funded pilot program that will allow our more entrepreneurial alumni the opportunity to secure funding, guidance, and support in taking their innovative ventures to the next level.

This initiative connects 10 Surge Alumni as they develop eight ventures that will elevate their voice, influence, and impact in the urban education. Among those ventures are education consultancy firms, youth counseling programs, and teacher development initiatives, all with the ultimate goal of improving education for our communities.

Surge Angels consists of a series of four sessions, in which the group collects 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. The program culminates in June with a pitch competition, in which the alumni will seek funding and recognition for their ventures.

Participating alumni include:

  • Adrian DeLeon (2015)

  • Mario Estrada Earnest (2017)

  • Christopher Goins (2016)

  • D. Nigel Green (2017)

  • Michael Johns (2016)

  • Shenita Johnson (2017)

  • Khadeejah Lasuc-Lewis (2016)

  • Grisel Maldonado (2015)

  • Marilyn Rhames (2016)

  • DuJuan Smith (2015)

Shenita Johnson from the 2017 cohort said about the program, “The launch of this venture under the Surge Angels umbrella is illustrative of how the ecosystem can and will foster improved outcomes for black and brown children.” Surge Angels is one of several initiatives in which Surge seeks to support leaders of color well beyond their time in the fellowship.

Featured Fellow: Paul Morgan on the Need for Surge

Paul Morgan is a 2018 Surge Fellow (Chicago). He is also veteran, volunteer, and philanthropy professional focused on providing youth with meaningful experiences, educational access, and equity.

Paul’s Work

As the Director of Programs and Innovation for the Daniel Murphy Scholarship Fund (DMSF), Paul oversees the core academic enrichment programming. Having been a Murphy Scholar with a mentor, Paul is able to see the true value of that relationship and use those experiences to elevate the mentor program today.

“I seek to be held accountable for my vision and goals,” Paul says of his goals for his Surge journey. “I believe the Surge Fellowship and the network of support, will help focus my vision and set me up for success with its achievement.”

Paul sharing his leadership story with 2018 Surge Fellows.

Paul’s Background

Prior to joining DMSF, Paul worked for the Office of Minority Student Affairs at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he counseled low-income, first-generation college students whom, like him, wanted an opportunity to achieve a more ambitious future. He also instructed several undergraduate courses for the University.

Paul later spent four years working as a Graduate level Instructor for The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. He received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign while simultaneously serving six years in the United States Marine Corps Reserve to include a combat deployment to Fallujah, Iraq.

Surge Oakland Announces Inaugural Fellowship Cohort

The inaugural Oakland Surge Fellowship cohort is a diverse collective of 11 equity-minded emerging African American, Latinx and Asian/Pacific Islander education leaders

The Surge Institute officially begins serving Bay Area communities with the debut of its inaugural Oakland Surge Fellowship cohort, accepting a diverse collective of 11 equity-minded emerging African American, Latinx and Asian/Pacific Islander education leaders.

Surge selected this cohort from an impressive pool of applicants and are ultimately bringing together fellows from across the Bay Area education landscape, including the Oakland and San Francisco school districts as well as several other educational institutions, government, and non-profit youth-serving organizations.

Over the course of the Fellowship, Surge Fellows receive extensive executive skill training, leadership development and exposure to respected leaders and policymakers in education. The cohort will also develop their own leadership and advocacy skills. As a culminating final step of the program, Fellows will complete individual capstone projects to advance the work of a new or existing Oakland education initiative.

Below is the full list of 2018 Oakland Surge Fellows:

The inaugural Oakland fellows united for our opening retreat in February.

The Surge Fellowship began in Chicago in 2015, with the goal of expanding diversity in the education leadership pipeline. Since its launch, Surge has graduated 47 Chicago Fellows, many of whom have since risen to even greater leadership roles in schools, government agencies, and youth-serving organizations. The Chicago Fellowship currently empowers its largest and most diverse cohort of 24 fellows.

Jawann Pollard, a 2017 Surge Fellowship Alumni and Program Manager for College Access for LINK Unlimited Scholars, affirms the fellowship played a positive role in both his professional and personal life. “This amazing experience has pushed me to focus inward and evaluate why I am drawn to the work that I do with and for young people,” Pollard said. “[Surge] has helped me in acknowledging and valuing the special set of skills I bring to the table to execute this work. All of this and more that I have received from the Surge family has really helped me clarify my purpose and vision for my life. I move forward more confident in both myself and the meaningful impact I want to have in the community.”

Surge Oakland Launches!

On Wednesday, January 10, the Surge Institute held its Surge Oakland launch reception at Impact Hub, where emerging education leaders and friends of Surge came together in supporting and learning about the movement to prioritize diverse leadership in education. It was a beautiful evening and a true convening of passionate, forward-thinking movers! 

Among the voices of the evening was Chris Chatmon, Deputy Chief of Equity for Oakland Unified School District, who spoke about the future of Oakland and the need for more African-American, Latinx and Asian/Pacific Islander education leaders.

Surge Founder and President Carmita Semaan also shared the Surge story, painting a powerful picture of how this movement came to be before opening the floor to Executive Director Michelle Seijas, who gave closer insights into what the Surge Fellowship will look like for prospective fellows. Finally, Surge Board Member and long-time education leader Jean-Claude Brizard provided an open invitation to support the work we are all passionate about, the future or our children.

Check out the gallery below to see the evening captured in photos!