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In collaboration with the Kauffman Foundation, the Surge Institute will develop, elevate and empower education leaders of color via a new pilot program called the Surge Academy.

This program supports and connects Kansas City-based African-American and Latinx emerging leaders. The curriculum builds executive skills and community, going beyond professional development and encouraging Academy Fellows to look inward to understand how their racial and ethnic identities impact how they lead. Surge Academy Fellows engage in learning content around effective communication, negotiations, nance, systems thinking and ending with content on leading and managing change to maximize the impact and contributions in their current organizations.

The Academy also helps foster a powerful network experience of mutual support and collaboration. We will also carefully match Academy Fellows with coaches of color who will support their executive and ontological development as a critical program component of the Academy.

Program Description

The Academy is a cohort-based program to support the growth and development of education leaders of color in the Kansas City. The Academy Fellowship will be open to all leaders of color in education organizations that are Kauffman Foundation grantees. Demographics of the ideal Academy participant will be between the ages of 28 and 40, who are in youth-serving organizations. The composition of the Academy will a balance of varying genders, races, ethnicities, and occupations, with a total of up to 20 participants.

Surge Institute staff and national faculty will curate and execute four-weekend sessions. Our core program objectives of Dream Big, Know the Landscape, Focus Inward, and Make an Impact will guide the experience and learning of the Academy participants. Sessions will be curated to support the participants in doing the heart and ontological work of unpacking the origins and the assets of their personal leadership stories and supporting their self-reflection through a race and equity lens.

As a Surge Academy Fellow you will leave the program having developed an understanding of competency in organizational management, relationship management, strategic planning and problem-solving, navigating complex environments, and expertise in the history and structure of public education. Each Academy Fellow will have demonstrated an ability to achieve and lead better, learning how to have a tremendous impact on the broad landscape of leadership and education.

Surge Innovates Through…

IDENTIFICATION. Identifying promising leaders already active within the education sector—instead of focusing on attracting talent from other fields—thus ensuring impressive ROI

TRAINING. Adapting leadership development best practices—full-spectrum support of a carefully selected cohort—to nurture bold leaders committed to building social and racial justice

CHAMPIONING. Providing executive skills training and critical coaching support to high-potential leaders who rarely have access to accelerated learning opportunities

Surge Academy Fellows are…

CONNECTED.  African-American or Latinx emerging leaders working in systems of schools, public policy, education philanthropy and advocacy organizations.

ELITE. Proven high-potential trailblazers with track records of professional success

EXPERIENCED. Minimum of six years of relevant working experience and at least a bachelor’s degree.

PASSIONATE. Serving high-need communities, preferably with connections to these communities.


  • Kansas City-based African-American or Latinx leader between the ages of 28 to 40
  • Bachelor’s degree (minimum)
  • Minimum of six years of work experience
  • Employed in education or youth-serving role at a Kauffman Foundation-funded organization or institution at the initiation of and for the duration of the fellowship
  • Passion for positively impacting the lives of young people and their communities


  • One letter of recommendation from current organization.
  • Résumé
  • Completed memorandum of understanding
  • Interview with three selection committee members
  • Ability to attend all sessions and participate for the duration of the program

If you have specific questions, contact Surge at