LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT We are young. Having launched in 2014, many would say the Surge Institute has graduated from the “start-up” descriptor. However, our work in elevating and strengthening diversity in the education leadership pipeline has truly just begun.

But what a beginning it has been.

Fresh off the heels of graduating our third class of emerging Chicago education leaders of color, we have now launched our largest and most diverse cohort yet. We are thrilled that 60 percent of our 2017 Surge Fellows stepped into new leadership roles and alumni from all cohorts are successfully scaling the ladders of leadership—and crediting Surge for catalyzing or aiding them in their journey. It is indescribable to begin to realize the vision of impact that brought Surge to fruition.

Surge is more than a program. Surge is a sprawling movement. This movement is not isolated to any one space. Not just non-profit organizations. Not just charter or traditional schools. This work transcends those categories. We are everywhere, forming a collective bond with the singular mission of transforming the service to students and communities who deserve nothing but the best and have been too long underserved.

As you navigate this narrative of fiscal year 2017 and absorb the stories of our fellows and alumni, we invite you to see the connective tissue. See the thread and shared mission. We avoid silos. We are many, yet we are one. And this is only the beginning.
Surge is more than a program. Surge is a sprawling movement.”

SPOTLIGHT As a 2016 Surge Fellow, I learned to use my seat at the table to move the room. Every encounter is as an opportunity to influence outcomes for black and brown children.” HAVING A VOICE – Ariel Johnson, 2016 Surge Fellow Director of Government Affairs, Illinois Network of Charter Schools FELLOW SPOTLIGHT A CLOSER LOOK Since graduating the Surge Fellowship in 2016, Ariel Johnson has seen her work with the Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS) evolve remarkably. She has been promoted multiple times and now serves as Director of Government Affairs to INCS and its affiliated political organizations.

Her leadership role allows her to impact children every day, crafting high-quality legislation that reaches 63,000 students across the state.

Serving as a political director, Johnson creates strategy around legislative and municipal elections through targeted campaign support. She also works to build coalitions among parents, community members, school leaders, and allied organizations to help create and maintain high quality education in our most underserved communities.

Johnson attributes her ability to navigate political environments to lessons she learned at Surge. “I learned to use my seat at the table to move the room,” Johnson said. “Every encounter is as an opportunity to influence outcomes for black and brown children. Prior to my time in Surge, I would never have had to the confidence to walk into a room of funders and explain my work and results with accuracy and certainty.”

FELLOWSHIP SUCCESSES 2017 COHORT SUCCESSES For Surge to be a movement there must be movers!
The 2017 Surge Fellowship introduced a large and diverse collective of dreamers and doers. Natalie Neris and William Collins are two powerful examples of this sprawling movement in action.
Black and Brown Leaders on the Rise During his Surge journey William Collins developed connections to education leadersand discovered the power of his story. He has since stepped up in leadership at OneGoal Chicago, having been promoted to Senior Director of Partnerships. Natalie Neris credits Surge with strengthening her executive skills and empowering her to lead with authenticity. These tools have been invaluable in her new role as Executive Director of Namaste Charter School.

SPOTLIGHT Time is finite in my role and as a high school administrator, I can tell you exactly how much time I have to make an impact: 4 years. My work has shifted through my involvement in the Surge movement because I realize it’s more important now than ever, to tell my scholars the truth.” TRUTH THROUGH MENTORSHIP –D. Nigel Green, 2017 Surge Fellow Assistant Principal, Muchin College Prep FELLOW SPOTLIGHT A CLOSER LOOK In thinking about his approach to his work, D. Nigel Green cites U.S. President Barack Obama’s farewell speech, charging us all to “be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy.”

As assistant principal of Muchin College Prep and a 2017 Surge Alumnus, Green takes this charge seriously. He has taken the skills, insights and connections he gained through the Surge Fellowship and poured them into the future leaders of this country... the students.

“Time is finite in my role and as a high school administrator, I can tell you exactly how much time I have to make an impact: four years,” Green said. “My work has shifted through my involvement in the Surge movement because I realize it’s more important now than ever, to tell my scholars the truth.”

D. Nigel says Surge has inspired him to lead beyond his work at Muchin as well. He is now a volunteer mentor for iMentor Chicago and contributed to an op-ed voicing his support for DACA to Education Post.

SUPPORTERS Individual DONORS [popuppress id="117"] [popuppress id="127"] SUPPORTERS Individual DONORS [popuppress id="117"] [popuppress id="127"]


SPOTLIGHT I truly feel like I am supported by a community of beautiful, powerful, inspiring, real-life superheroes. I am honored to stand in community with Surge and continue the fight for our people.” GROWTH THROUGH PARTNERSHIP – Andrea Serrano, 2017 Surge Fellow Individual Giving Manager, City Year Chicago In the future, I would love to see Surge grow and expand to other markets, and provide the same opportunities Andrea Serrano has had and all they have afforded to City Year.” – Corey Young, Major Gifts Officer, City Year Chicago FELLOW SPOTLIGHT A CLOSER LOOK

FINANCIALS TOTAL REVENUE AND EXPENSES FINANCIALS FINANCIAL STATEMENTS These financial statements were abstracted from the Organization’s June 30, 2017 financial statements, which were audited by ICL, LLC. Because the information does not include all the disclosures required by accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America, it does not purport to present the Organization’s financial conditions or results of operations. A copy of the audited financial statements will be provided upon request at the Organization’s office.

SPOTLIGHT Oftentimes, 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. More than anything, Surge has instilled a belief that I belong. It’s instilled a confidence in me that I lacked.” DATA IN ACTION –Cesar Dominguez, 2017 Surge Fellow Data Strategy Manager, Youth Guidance Cesar Dominguez, 2017 Surge Fellow FELLOW SPOTLIGHT A CLOSER LOOK

THE SURGE AHEAD As we look to the future, Surge continues expanding its impact and influence on education for our children and communities. PROVEN IMPACT
A third-party research firm performed an empirical evaluation of the fellowship. The results will be released in November 2017. They reveal a transformative impact on our fellows and their communities.
In October, the Chicago Surge Fellowship successfully launched its largest and most diverse cohort of 25 fellows.
2017 Learn about the 2018 Surge Fellows.
Surge is excited to announce we will soon launch a new Fellowship, unifying and empowering education leaders of color in
Oakland, California.
How do we best serve our communities? By evolving to fit the need. Stay tuned! Surge’s next steps include new extensions of our programming, such as expanded alumni services and professional development, pilot opportunities in smaller markets, and support for prospective entrepreneurs.

SPOTLIGHT The relationships formed, lessons learned and insights gained through the Surge Fellowship have provided me with a solid foundation to continue my leadership journey at Chicago Public Schools.” BEYOND THE FELLOWSHIP –Elisa Botello, 2016 Surge Fellow Director of New School Development, Office of Innovation and Incubation, Chicago Public Schools FELLOW SPOTLIGHT A CLOSER LOOK The Surge journey begins the moment an emerging leader of color learns about our fellowship. Then comes the rigorous application process, packed with essays, interviews, case studies and connection building. Finally, there is the year-long Fellowship journey, the transformative experience that marries executive skill-building with a deep dive into who each fellow is as an authentic education leader.

But, as Elisa Botello notes, the journey does not end when the fellowship does. “Although I completed the program in October 2016, the Surge experience for me is one that has just begun,” Botello said. Alumni continue to receive executive coaching and developmental support from the Surge family after graduating. In 2017, Surge alumni participated in several Surge community events, including a fireside chat with former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

“Authenticity, excellence, and humility are front and center in my leadership growth,” Botello added, relating the movement to her work at Chicago Public Schools. “It is because of the Surge Fellowship that I continue to draw from these anchors, my fellows and the Surge network for support, consultation and community as I do my part to ensure that high quality educational options exist in Chicago.”

LEADERSHIP NATIONAL CHICAGO LEADERSHIP BOARD MEMBERS We would like to give special thanks to all who donated their time and energy toward supporting our efforts this year.

This movement is powered by passion for the work. If you feel strongly about bringing more diversity to education leadership, please volunteer. If you’ve achieved great success, made it to the mountaintop, and are looking to support an effort that lifts up others, please donate. We appreciate your support.
To learn more about how you can join this movement

ANNUAL REPORT CONTACT All inquiries can be sent to We look forward to hearing from you!