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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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 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.”