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.