The COVID-19 global pandemic has had a disastrous impact on the lives of people all over the world, and the Surge community of education leaders of color is no different.

At Surge, we’ve had the honor of elevating and supporting transformative leaders of color across the education and youth-serving ecovillage: our Surge Fellows and Alumni. These are individuals who work to dismantle oppressive structures and systems and seek to provide better education opportunities and a brighter future for our young people. They tackle giants daily – and win!

Now our community has another giant to tackle.

The burden of this international crisis sits heavily on families. Basic needs that many take for granted—food, shelter, and security—are rapidly growing concerns, particularly for those without the income to save ahead of this pandemic. Those who are now without jobs. Those who still do have jobs and have to risk their personal health to keep those jobs. Those now expected to homeschool their children.  The challenges are real, and right now Surge Fellows and Alumni all over the country are feeling the impact on themselves and the communities they serve.

To help relieve some of the pressure on the families they are serving, on April 1 we launched the Surge Relief Fund, created to address some of the most pressing needs of the communities that our Surge Fellows and Alums are serving. We are proud to share that in the month of April, we raised more than $150,000 in donations and pledges, all of which are being used to serve communities in need during this time! 

We are truly thankful to all of the individual donors who supported this campaign. Every dollar contributed to this fund was deeply valued and appreciated. We’d like to give special recognition to a group of supporters who gave large sums in the service of communities in need:

Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation 

Margulf Foundation

Art & Lindsay Reimers

John P. & Anne Welsh McNulty Foundation (in partnership with Aspen Global Leadership Network)

Michelle Russell

Paula Sneed & Lawrence Bass Family Charitable Fund

In total, we received 16 applications from across the Surge community.  We assembled a selection committee of staff, alums, and current fellows to evaluate each application and make a final decision.  

We are happy to announce that awards have been made to the following individuals, for their institutions: 


Surge Cohort

Funds benefitting:

Andrea Black

Chicago, 2017

Schmidt Elementary – Chicago Public Schools

Andres Avila

Chicago, 2017

Dream Pursuers Club @ Back of the Yards High School – Chicago Public Schools

Cristina Marquez

Kansas City, 2019

Kansas City Girls Preparatory Academy

Dirrick Butler

Chicago, 2019

Project OneTen

Janene Ingram

Chicago, 2019

Wood Family Foundation – Pitch In Program

Lateshia Woodley

Kansas City, 2019

House of a Second Chance

Randy Seriguchi

Oakland, 2018

Urban Ed Academy

Roxanne Rose

Oakland, 2020

Achieve Academy

Sanam Jorjani

Oakland, 2019

Oakland Literacy Coalition

Sara Rizik-Baer

Oakland, 2019

Tandem Early Learning

Stephanie Arias

Chicago, 2017

Cristo Rey Network

Tiara Wheatley

Chicago, 2020

Chicago Tech Academy – Chicago Public Schools

Ty-Licia Hooker

Oakland, 2019

Boost! West Oakland

This was not a bandage on a wound. This was a village helping to raise children, who will go on to build new and better villages, partially fueled by moments like these.

In closing, please enjoy a short message of gratitude from a student of the Dream Pursuers Club at the Back of the Yards High School

The Surge Institute is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, therefore all monetary donations to the Surge Institute are tax deductible.

To learn more about Surge, send us an email at We look forward to hearing from you!