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 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.

Why Surge says “Latinx”

The pen is mightier than the sword and all that jazz. Words are the key to victory. Assessment and mutual understanding lead to connection. Dialogue leads to treaties.

Oversimplified, but you get the idea.

In the grand scheme of language, the term “Latinx” is brand new. It is a new iteration of a long and storied history of a group of Americans taking control of the labels placed upon them. “Latino,” “Brown,” and “Latin@” were all evolutions that occurred both within and outside these communities. And each evolution has been hotly debated at every turn.

“Latinx” came into existence in recent years and has specifically gained traction as a powerful act of resistance against gender hierarchies and binary categorization for Latinos and Latinas. There are many places to learn about the origins of the term as well as the positive and the negative responses to it.

This is a good example.

So is this.

As a national nonprofit aimed at lifting up education leaders of color in service to the underserved children of the United States, we at the Surge Institute strive for progression and forward-thinking in all our work. It’s what our mission is all about. This forces us to be cognizant and thoughtful about the many social justice movements arising in this country alongside our own, particularly as we expand our work to progressive spaces like the Bay Area. We must make ourselves part of every conversation that presents new and more inclusive ways to talk about the communities we seek to serve.

Inclusiveness. That’s the key.

The 2018 Chicago Surge Fellowship is made up of 24 emerging African-American and Latinx education leaders.

When the question of using the term “Latinx” came up, we gathered as an organization. Our entire team—in Chicago and Oakland offices— came together for a deep discussion on whether to officially adopt the term into our language. And that discussion did not end until every voice was heard.

Some team members were enthusiastic about “Latinx,” praising its progressive acknowledgment of the gender spectrum. Others were concerned about its potential trendiness and disregard of years of the ethnic complexity and diversity of identity of the Latino community. Latino and Latina members of our leadership team fell on different sides of the argument, presenting thoughtful and valid arguments for why they did or did not identify with this relatively new term.

We also sought the guidance and opinions of Latino and Latina Surge Alumni, who were honest about their love, hate, and indifference for the term. The process was thorough, but never thorough enough, and it was both enlightening and taxing. There was no consensus—nor could there ever be—but we needed to make a decision.

So we leaned into inclusiveness.

Ultimately, no individual is forced to identify themselves using a specific term. We are who we choose to be. Not all black people like the term “African-American.” Not all African-Americans like the term “Black.” We understand what is meant by the terms and that’s enough for a dialogue to begin. Each individual is free to self-identify.

But as organizations, companies, institutions, we must be well-intentioned in how we use language. In disregarding the term “Latinx,” which seeks to include, we disregard a growing population of people with gender non-conforming identities, who are already made to feel like outsiders. As people of color, don’t we feel that way enough? We are framed as the “other” plenty. Let’s not do it to each other.

Our intention is to be inclusive and see the beautiful spectrum of leaders across race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. We want to create spaces of love, healing, and transformation. We need leaders to show up in all their power, genius, and courage so they can transform education spaces for the communities and children they serve. That is our mission, and our language should reflect that. By adopting this term into our language, Surge is saying we want Latinos, Latinas, and all in between and beyond those parameters to shape the future of education for our youth. All.

Language is messy. So are labels. But vocal clarity in inclusion is just as important as inclusion itself. We have communicated an effort at unity, and hopefully, that message is clear.

We welcome emerging Latinx leaders to this movement.

We see you.

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 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.

 

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!

Thank you for choosing to #SurgeForMore!

Our annual #SurgeForMore online giving has truly become a time to appreciate the growth in support of this movement. Every year, more and more donors become a part of our community and show that they care about the mission to educate and develop leaders of color who create transformative change in urban education.

This year’s campaign aimed to grow our community more than ever and brought with it our biggest goal to date: $50,000! In order to reach that goal, we established the #SurgeForMore challenge, in which teams of fellows and alumni were tasked with finding creative ways to engage their friends, families and networks with the movement that has been so important to their growth as leaders.

All of the fellows and alumni brought their “A” game, telling their stories through videos and social media graphics, as well as offering up unique opportunities for donors. See examples in our video below!

With a grand total of $45,931, we raised far more money than any of our past #SurgeForMore campaigns! We landed less than $5,000 from our goal and gained many new donors.

Of the four cohort teams, 2017 Surge Fellows raised the most funds, producing a video series in which they called for support for our movement while lifting each other up as leaders. We would also like to acknowledge our 2016 Surge Fellows for finding the most creative way to #SurgeForMore, raffling off consultancy opportunities to anyone who donated in their name. Kudos to all of our fellows and alumni for taking up this challenge and uniting to serve the future of this movement!

And an extra special thanks to our generous match donors! Two anonymous supporters provided $10,000, and we also received a match donation of $5,000 from Michelle Russell as well as $3,000 from Marene Jennings!

If you donated during our #SurgeForMore seven-days of giving, thank you for your love and support of this work. We could not do it without you. If you did not, it’s never too late! Please visit our donate page and see how you can contribute. Any amount helps.

Thank you for being a part of this movement, and have a happy holiday season!

 

Featured Fellow: Erica Bauer on Why She Became a Surge Fellow

Erica Bauer never set out to be an educator, let alone an education leader or a Surge Fellow.

Her journey to school leadership came through discovering her true passion, and her journey to Surge came from a desire to connect with leaders who looked like her.

Erica’s Work

Erica designs systems of support as the Director of Student Engagement of a multicultural high school in the heart of Chicago – Walter Payton College Preparatory Academy – ranked the 2nd best high school in Illinois, according to US News and World Report.

Erica has been asked why she wanted to become a Surge Fellow when she was already a leader at one of the best schools in the state. She says it has to do with learning how to move beyond the deficit-based culture she grew up in so that she could become a stronger leader for her students.

“I feel like, coming into Surge, it was no longer the exception to the rule,” Erica said. “Surge says black excellence is the rule. That was very healing for me because I was coming into contact with my own self-hatred that had developed in me over the years as the result of this deficit mentality I had been taught to carry.”

Erica’s Background

Erica Bauer defines herself as an analyst, artist and activist.

She is a recovering military brat, now based in Chicago, whose travels led to her “multicultural moment” — one must serve the whole person, mind, body, spirit, while embracing one’s multiple, co-existing identities. Erica works to ensure that no student receives the whitewashed education she received as the only African-American woman in her master’s and doctoral programs.

Fellowship for Emerging Education Leaders of Color to Launch in Oakland

The Surge Institute is encouraging Oakland-based emerging African-American, Latinx and Asian/Pacific Islander education leaders to apply for the inaugural Oakland Surge Fellowship, a program that provides extensive executive skill training, leadership development and exposure to respected leaders and policymakers in education.

Leading the Oakland Fellowship as the founding Executive Director is career educator Michelle Seijas, Ed.D, who has served as an education leader for more than a decade as a high school principal and district administrator. Michelle is passionate about serving youth and communities of color, and carries that passion with her into elevating and empowering Oakland’s emerging education leaders.

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 which have since risen to leadership roles in schools, government agencies and youth-serving organizations. The Chicago Fellowship currently empowers its largest and most diverse cohort of 25 fellows.

Nina Sanchez, a 2017 Chicago Surge Alumnus and Director of Enrich Chicago, says the fellowship was a transformative experience. “The Surge Fellowship has been life-giving in more ways than one,” Sanchez said. “It has equipped me with the skills I need to more deftly apply my strengths to my work. It has given me space to reflect on

my own journey. It has yielded access to a network of incredible leaders across our sector. Most importantly, it has given me the community I wanted but didn’t realize I needed.”

The fellowship is curated to generate both individual and collective transformation through healing and a reclamation of our leadership narratives, centered on the power and strength of our racial and ethnic identities and how they supremely qualify us to impact the communities and students we serve.

Visit the Become a Fellow page to learn more about the fellowship and to apply. Sign up for the Surge email list to stay informed about the fellowship and upcoming events. You can also follow Surge on TwitterFacebookInstagramLinkedIn and YouTube.

The Surge Institute, a non-profit organization geared toward prioritizing the need for diversity in education leadership, founded by Carmita Semaan in 2014. Surge is largely funded by individual donors as well as several philanthropic organizations, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative and New Profit.