Five Years to Forever

Table of Contents A message of thanks and charge to engage.
Movement Forward Funders and Financials
What lies ahead in 2020? What are we building? More. Always more.
Staff and Boards
A message of gratitude to our loving supporters, and a glance at our financial structure.
A peek at the leaders that make this movement move.
Movement Designed
Ends of the Spectrum
Movement Refined Movement Undying Despite a great many challenges in 2020, we persevered and continue to build.
A dive into the data and evidence of Surge's transformative success.
Alums speak to the life-changing impact of the Surge experience.
Surge team members reflect on their role in building an unstoppable force.

Movement Defined It was five years ago.

Five years ago, Carmita Semaan launched a program that would grow into a national phenomenon, bringing together brilliant minds from all over the country in a diverse collective of Black leaders, Brown leaders, Asian leaders, Pacific-Islander leaders, agents of change, all passionate about tearing down hate and building up love. It started as an idea. Carmita’s idea.

Movement Designed In the five years since Surge launched its first cohort, the team behind the scenes has grown and evolved to meet the needs of the movement. Each individual to join our team has represented a milestone. Journey through a few of those milestones here. milestones
“Despite being ready to make a career change from hospitality, I was apprehensive/anxious to enter into education. I had a successful track record in the industry working with top-rated, Michelin chefs and in marketing and event planning. My passion for the energy in creating memorable experiences and achievements in the industry didn’t feel transferable to education at the time. What I found (and what Carmita saw in me from the beginning) was an ability to care for people in intentional and meaningful ways. At Surge, we often talk about the transformation of our fellows and alums. The reality is that it is transformative to staff as well. As a founding and first staff hire, I’ve grown to see myself in my strengths and to quiet my limiting beliefs.” milestone: from my dream to our dream
Sasha Dzubay: Surge’s first employee. When the future of Carmita’s fellowship program was still uncertain, Sasha took a leap of faith. She now serves the movement as Director of Alumni Impact.
“I knew my friend Carmita had a great idea in what became Surge. I saw all the components of her identity coming together to create a different experience. I’m proud to say I was working the ol’ Microsoft Word thesaurus when “surge” came up. In 2014 and 2015, I could see the ways that people could accelerate toward impact, develop skills, partner with one another.
I didn’t see the impacts Surge Fellows and Alums would catalyze in their organizations. I didn’t know that liberation was coming; that people would free themselves from many of the notions that no longer served them, and to pursue who they were born to be. I didn’t see that we’d have such deep impacts on hearts and spirits. It’s better than I could have imagined, and we’re just getting started.”
milestone: from supporter to C.O.O Connie Casson: One of the original supporters of Carmita Semaan’s vision, Connie became a behind-the-scenes architect, helping build the nuts and bolts of the Surge experience. She now serves as Chief Operating Officer for Surge.
“When I first joined the Surge Team, I felt as if I had arrived home. I felt this way partly because I had a loving friendship with Carmita for 13 years at that time; however, mostly because I was encouraged to lead as my full and authentic self, from my strengths, and with love.
“My ultimate hope for the future of the Surge movement is that the movement as it exists today is no longer needed. That leaders of color who lead authentically, in love, with their whole beings, to dismantle systems of racism, and co-create the future we hope for in communities, is ubiquitous and a longstanding, sustained norm. My hope is that the seeds planted by this movement will yield a significantly more liberated future for the youth we serve.”
milestone: accepting the torch Tamara Prather: When Carmita took the steps to realize her dream of a national movement, it was deeply important to entrust the leadership of Surge Chicago to someone who truly embodied the spirit of the movement. She found that in Tamara Prather, who became Executive Director of Surge Chicago in 2016.
“Surge has challenged me as a whole human being. I have been given the opportunity to work with colleagues that encourage me to reflect on who I am and who I want to be. Thinking about my values, my dreams, and how to live in joy is very challenging. I have never been in a space that encourages me to take time for myself and think about what I want. I have worked for many organizations that only care about what I produce and not about how I am as a person. Surge has shown me a new perspective. I now give myself time to look within and push beyond what I know so that I may live in joy and embrace a better life. My hope for Surge is to launch fellowships all over the U.S. This is a national movement for change. Our people need Surge. They need a space to assess their professional and personal lives. Many of us are socialized to just survive, but Surge supports leaders to see that there is another way to live.”
milestone: Surge heads West Hazel Gutierrez: Surge’s official transition from Chicago fellowship to national movement in 2018 was a lot to manage for a young organization. The Oakland Fellowship was off the ground before its local team was fully formed. Hazel completed that team, stepping into to the role of operations coordinator for a brand new facet of the Surge movement.
“When I joined the Surge team in 2018, it truly felt like an honor. To contribute my talents and skills to an organization that invested so much in my development felt like a professional win and a homecoming. From the day I said yes, I have treated Surge like a family business because witnessing the organization living out its mission is personally rewarding. Working here as a black man has taught me the true meaning of professional freedom - something I had not discovered at any other point in my almost 20-year career. I dream of the day when we see a Surge alum as the Secretary of Education and/or leading critical, life-changing, and substantial legislation on behalf of black and brown students in every city and in every neighborhood.” milestone: from served to servant William J. Collins: The first Alum to join the Surge Leadership Team. Will Collins graduated the Surge Fellowship in 2017, when the program was in its third year. As Carmita sought to grow the organization nationally, she enlisted Will as Vice President of Development and External Affairs where he now raises funds to fuel the movement that served him. “When I first came to Surge I was a bit reticent. I had already left the space of working with adults and was enjoying my work with middle schoolers. I realized quickly Surge was not like other places I had worked. In this space, everyone was encouraged to show up as they are, to live into their vision of leadership.
“It brings me so much joy to create a space where people feel seen and heard; where they know they have an ear, a shoulder, or whatever else they need to push change forward. The relationships I have built and helped to cultivate have been a source of motivation and affirmation that what we need most as leaders of color is a tribe that understands our unique journey and can provide the type of support and energy we need to continue to move forward in changing the face of education.“

milestone: leading something new Noemi Cortes: Noemi joined the national team to lead programming for a new facet of the movement: Surge Academy. This national program has now served emerging leaders of color in two cities and is finding a groundswell of support in a growing list of future cities.
“This was my first full time role in my professional career, so for it to be in a space that is by and for communities of color means so much to me. I felt and continue to feel that I am where I’m supposed to be in my professional journey.
“Helping to elevate the stories of our community has definitely brought the most joy. What our Fellows, Alumni, and staff are bringing to life in their work feels like a true manifestation of our ancestors’ wisdom and wildest dreams. My hope is for the reach of this movement to be extended to new areas and audiences. College students, local artists, the possibilities are endless but each facet would tie into actualizing a future reimagined by and for brilliant Black, Latinx, and AAPI leaders.”

milestone: the next chapter

Angel Martinez: Exploring how to build upon success, how to make Surge bigger, meant delving deeply into how we were telling our story. When Angel joined the team as our first-ever digital storyteller, it turned our marketing duo into a marketing team and elevated what was creatively possible.

Ends of the Spectrum The Surge experience has evolved to support the needs of the brilliant leaders of color transforming systems. A reflection on the past 5 years has brought to light powerful insights from our Alumni family. insights 2015 Surge Alum An Unforeseen Moment “The thing about life changing and perspective altering events is that they usually don’t announce themselves as such. At the time of the birth of my Surge experience, I was experiencing what felt like the height of my professional career, though personally I was drowning. I had experienced the most success anyone in my family had ever experienced having founded a Tier 1+ public charter in Chicago. I was also on the brink of a second divorce and was getting ready to enter what felt like a dark season ahead. Surge was a lifeline. It normalized for me what it meant to live a whole life, a life of unapologetic authenticity. My hope is that other people of color – across our nation – would be fortunate enough to call Surge home.” Ana Shropshire Executive Director
IDEA Public Schools
“Surge’s focus on authentic leadership laid the foundation for me not just to lead from my identity as a Black woman and mother, but to center the perspectives and expertise of those who look like me. Education researchers are valued by our ability to engage the work of the supposed top thinkers in our field. Like most other systems and institutions, a white dominant perspective is pervasive in research. Unfortunately, this perspective often carries a deficit orientation toward the experiences of Black students. I have learned that my leadership depends on my ability to bring the voices and rich experiences of Black students into conversations and decisions that impact their lives, as well as, research that seeks to provide a nuanced and historically contextualized lens.” 2016 Surge Alum Seeing Excellence in Expertise Nicole Williams Beechum
Senior Research Analyst
UChicago Consortium on College Research
2017 Surge Alum Believing in Me “More than anything, Surge has instilled a belief that I belong. It’s instilled a confidence in me that I lacked. Often times, given my upbringing, I lacked confidence when I found myself in professional settings. I simply did not feel worthy of being in the same space as many of the very bright and innovative people I’ve had the pleasure to work with. Through the fellowship, however, I came to understand that feeling like this is all too common for people of color. And a large part of the experience was shaking off these feelings and learning to take command of the spaces we occupy. The many kids our organizations serve deserve nothing less.” Cesar Dominguez
Director of Strategic
Operations and Finance
Tulsa Public Schools
“I feel fortunate to be a member of the Surge Movement. Sincerely, there is not a week that goes by in my current position where I do not pull from or lean into my Surge learning experience. I have employed my learnings around project management, understanding the landscape that we work in, and the art of negotiation routinely. Additionally, I am building a team from scratch and I have utilized my understandings around building capacity of team members by focusing on strengths, as well as using my strengths to lead our work."
“I distinctly remember Carmita sharing her espoused agenda of Surge. I am looking forward to that coming to fruition, when Surge alumni are working together (in considerable numbers) on every level of education. When we are shaping policies that support the liberation of our black and brown children.”
2018 Surge Alum
Building for now... building for later. Adelric McCain Director of Equity & Impact
Network for College Success
“Surge was pivotal in my personal and professional development. The academy gave me the tools (and more importantly) the language I needed to lead from an authentic place. As a leader, I am much more confident in my role, my voice is stronger, and I know that I have a community of support that I can count on. I have built powerful friendships with fellow alumni from across the country. It’s the most powerful experience I’ve had in my career."
“I am so grateful to have been able to participate in Surge. I hope that Surge continues to expand and serve leaders of color across the country. I am fortunate to be a part of Carmita’s dream and I look forward to being a part of the takeover.”

2019 Surge Alum
A stronger voice Edgar Palacios
Latinx Education Collaborative
“Since becoming a part of the Surge movement, I have found myself surrounded by inspiring leaders of color who understand me on both a personal and professional level. The aspect of my Surge journey that continues to stick with me is the intentionality that Surge has put into my professional growth. As a person of color and first-generation college student, I have grown accustomed to navigating professional and educational spaces on my own, so I’ve developed an independence rooted in a “me against the world” mentality. Surge has allowed me to lower this guard that I’ve built for myself in order to grow alongside other leaders of color.” 2020 Surge Alum From ‘Me’ to ‘Us’ Gold Chhim
Founding Director, Partnerships

Movement Refined *This number has already grown with the graduation of the last three cohorts and introduction of three more since we collected this data in April 2020. a sense of strength Surge Alumni work with and lead organizations that collectively serve more than 3.39 million students across the United States. The Surge vision uses where we’ve been and where we are to inform where we go next and right now…
a sense of growth a sense of purpose
A sense of growth Amount of Surge Alumni that say their experience with Surge improved their self-knowledge and understanding of strengths. A sense of growth of alumni say being a part of Surge “expanded my professional presence and network” 91% of Surge Alumni agree or strongly agree that Surge significantly improved their ability to navigate complex organizations. 90% A sense of growth of Surge Alumni report that the Surge experience meets or far exceeds their expectations. 96% A sense of purpose “share my unique perspective, informed by my identity and strengths” of alumni regularly... 92% “I am able to lead by empowering and advocating for others” 92% of alumni say... A sense of strength of alumni say being a part of Surge “expanded my professional presence and network” 91% of Surge Alumni agree or strongly agree that Surge significantly improved their ability to navigate complex organizations. 90%

Movement Undying COVID, racial injustice, fires all over the world, deaths of monumental figures, a pivotal election year, 2020 has presented challenges to us all, and the Surge movement is no exception. It did slow us, but it did not stop us. In fact, it inspired us. onward
The Surge Relief Fund was a light born out of strife. We successfully raised more than $150,000 to provide support and relief to communities impacted by COVID and efforts to tangibly address racial injustice and civil unrest. We did this with support of countless individual givers and wonderful organizations, who contributed large investments to the fund. Learn more about the Surge Relief Fund $150,000 We had to change the way we worked. Surge President Carmita Semaan acknowledged early on that the pandemic and the challenges facing the world were a clear indicator that we could not have a business-as-usual mentality. It meant more than working remotely. It meant redesigning the Surge Fellowship experience. It meant re-examining the needs and support of the Surge team. It meant wellness check-ins, parent support and revisiting of our values as an organization. The effort went so well, Carmita received national recognition in an interview with Forbes about her approach. Fortunately, movements are not easily broken. This year may be ending soon, but the implications of all that has occurred will be part of our lives for the foreseeable future.

Movement Forward While many of us learned in 2020 not to make assumptions about what’s to come, the Surge family is eager for what’s ahead: a year of new horizons, bigger dreams and unprecedented collective impact. what’s ahead Surge Unites! 2021 will bring Surge’s second National Alumni Convening, creating a virtual space like none other and bringing together leaders of color all over the country to build on the collective power and genius of this community.

With nearly 200 alums located in Oakland, Chicago, Kansas City, New York, Washington D.C., and several other states, all working to dismantle oppression and build a better future, this will be a deeply special and historic space. Truly a moment for the movement.
The new Surge livestream series is up and running bringing raw, unfiltered and unscripted dialogue about the many issues and innovations impacting our communities. This series is more than a web series or podcast. It is a rare public glimpse into the many powerful conversations that happen within the family of Surge leaders and innovators.

Easily join the conversation by following Surge on Facebook!
Evolution of the Revolution Thanks to the work of our Development and New Site Expansion team, the Surge movement will continue its growth trajectory. The launch of the Indianapolis Surge Academy is only the beginning.

Our team is cooking up the next iteration of the Surge experience, exploring innovative approaches to building coalitions, supporting our leaders of color, and ensuring our community has the necessary tools to change the world. Our national board and local advisory boards are actively growing and helping design the bright and sustainable future of the Surge movement.

First Slide Donors Partners Funders and Financials You fuel this work. You stoke the fires of this movement. You show your love through your continued support. We thank you. Institutional Funders Financials Individual Donors Slide 2 Individual Donors Individual Donors The work of transforming education for our youth and communities does not happen without the support of mission-aligned believers. We would like to give special recognition and thanks to the individual donors who invested in our work during Fiscal Year 2020. $25,000 + Art & Lindsay Reimers $3,000 + Bradley Bernatek
Broad Residency Cohort 2005-2007
Darryl & Angela Cobb
Miranda Family Fund
Nneka Rimmer
Sandra Rush
Michelle Russell
Carmita & George Semaan
Michael Simonton & Natania Crane
Erica Bauer
Jean-Claude Brizard
Connie Casso
Sarah Duncan
Stacy Gibbons
Kaya Henderson
Jennifer Husbands
Innovare - Social Innovation Partners
Marene Jennings
Leslie & John Kerner
Kenny & Heather Mitchell
Althea Parker
Tamara Prather
Charlene Reid
Michele Rogers
Sherina Smith
Judith & Alexander Toland
Muriel Wilkins
Doyoung Yong & Jason Strahan
$1,000 + $1-999 2020 IMPACT Community $100,000 + Paula A. Sneed & Lawrence P. Bass
TE Connectivity
Financials Financials It is thanks in large part to individual and institutional donors that this work moves forward the way it does. Most of our support pours in from those who believe in this work. Most of our funds are poured into serving the next generation of education leaders. This is the mission. This will always be the mission. Financials Page Two Financial Statement of Activities It is thanks in large part to individual and institutional donors that this work moves forward the way it does. Most of our support pours in from those who believe in this work. Most of our funds are poured into serving the next generation of education leaders. This is the mission. This will always be the mission.

Slide One Staff Staff and Board National and Local Boards Slide Two National and City Boards Boards National Board of Directors Local Advisory Boards

It’s been hard. This year. These years. This world. It’s all been hard. Yet, this hardness is only proof of the need. Collectives like this need to exist, because now as much as ever, we need a space for us.

Surge is that space and you have made that possible.

We thank all who have helped us build a space of safety, bravery and innovation for the next generation of leaders. We thank all who have contributed to our work with your brains, hearts and souls. We thank all who are seeing this work for the first time in the pages of the report for reading to this point.

We thank you all, and we look forward to the summit of this mountain.

We know we’ll see you there.
Invest in the Surge Movement