A garden can truly brighten any day. Whether the sky is clear or grey, seeing a blooming collection of healthy flowers adds a wonderful burst of color and life.

But that garden takes time, energy and effort to produce beauty. A seed can be planted and, with proper love and care, grow and bloom into a thing of magnificent beauty. Another seed could be planted in the same soil with the same love and care, and it could grow to produce something completely different - still breathtaking, but with its own unique vibrance and beauty.

The Surge movement started with that first seed, the one planted in Chicago. It has grown and flourished with the gorgeous colors and brilliance for which I’d long hoped and prayed.

Then we planted a new seed. All the way over on the west coast in Oakland California. That new seed has broken through the soil and is beginning to bloom with a new collection of colors and a vibrance unique to the Bay Area’s passionate culture of progress and revolution.

More recently we’ve planted a third seed. A different kind of flower. This one is in Kansas City, addressing the mission in a new way. We’re loving that seed, watering it and shining light on it. And it’s working its way toward the surface.

Surge is not just a national nonprofit organization for emerging education leaders of color. It is a growing force of nature, breaking new ground and revealing the power and strength of voices too often ignored.

As you explore this report, understand not just the beauty of this growing movement from a local one to a national one, but the determination and heart behind what is quickly growing into an incubator for change agents shaping the education experience for our kids and our communities.

Thank you for engaging with us. Enjoy this learning experience.


Several years ago, Carmita Semaan shared an idea. She wanted to develop and elevate leaders of color in education so that collectively we could have greater impact. Back then, I had the privilege of being one of Carmita’s early cheerleaders urging her to launch what would become the Surge Institute, I knew that her idea had the power to transform the lives of leaders, students, and communities. I knew the work was critical.

This work is critical for the futures of millions of young people who benefit from engaging with educators and leaders who share their backgrounds, critical for communities that desire leaders who understand their unique perspectives and experiences, critical for educators who need to see and live into their full potential. Four years, two cities, 80+ successful fellows later, I am sure of three things – Surge is elevating the trajectories of leaders of color in this sector and its fellows are transforming communities…I also know for sure that this work is more critical than ever.

What I didn’t recognize at the beginning, but is clear to me now is that I was becoming part of a movement. The Surge Fellowship is four cohorts strong in Chicago and we just graduated our first cohort in Oakland. Our Fellows are equipped with executive skills, connections and opportunities. They are re-writing the playbooks for their organizations and starting new ones. Surge Fellows are leading schools, helping first generation students achieve postsecondary success, changing the way we meet the needs of our teaching force, and launching catalytic new organizations that are galvanizing communities. They are creating new and powerful narratives of transformation and impact.

I am privileged and beyond proud to be part of the Surge family. We have come a long way, but there is much more to do. I recently sat with the Surge leadership team, and I shared a simple truth from one of my favorite children’s books. We are no longer “The Little Engine That Could.” We have moved beyond the start-up phase. We are now the bullet train, traveling new roads and powering with intention toward massive impact. Impact that is critical.

Darryl Cobb
Board Chair


“In the beginning, I thought Surge would guide me on a path toward greatness. I had no idea that my fellowship experience would be the greatness I was in search of. Surge is an institution of healing and ascending to one’s brilliance while simultaneously celebrating the power of the collective. This movement has transformed my confidence, leadership style and how I share my story.”

SURGE CHICAGO — Paul Morgan 2018 Surge Alum, Chicago

Surge began in Chicago.

While our work was never designed to remain solely focused on the education landscape of the Windy City, it is forever the birth place and original catalyst for this movement.

In 2018, the Ascendants, our largest graduating cohort to date unveiled a powerful array of capstone projects, all designed to transform the educational experience for youth and communities throughout their city.

Unparralleled and widespread change is on the horizon in Chicago, and it’s happening with a passionate and brilliant collective of leaders.

OUR RISING IMPACT Surge develops, connects and empowers leaders of color, primarily through our signature program, the Surge Fellowship. But is it effective? Are we getting results?

Our 2018 study—in which we surveyed every single alumnus of the fellowship program—says it all.
In the last year,                        of Surge alumni have begun system-level change that impacts many students, teachers, and schools, up from 44%, and attribute that difference to support from Surge. 81%
                     of Surge alumni are directly involved in determining the strategic direction of their organization or school district, up from 65% last year. 81% In the past year,                                          of Surge Alumni earned a promotion, giving them greater potential for change/impact. more than half                      of Surge alumni have proactively sought challenging leadership responsibilities, up from 67% last year. 94%


“The Surge Fellowship is changing the face of leadership in education by arming us with the tools we need to unapologetically represent our students' voices at the decision-making table. During these divisive times, to be part of this movement will stimulate a ripple effect needed to further the mission toward a more inclusive and equitable society.”

SURGE OAKLAND — Marielle Narcisa 2018 Surge Alumna, Oakland

With its launch in February of 2018, the Oakland Surge Fellowship officially transformed this movement into a national one. Eleven Bay Area emerging education leaders of color went on a journey together, exploring the impact they seek to make in their communities and with their communities.

As they graduated in August, the Alchemists solidified their eternal connection as the inaugural Oakland Fellows and continue to build for the future of the Bay Area.


Surge is fueled by a powerful collective.

Our work is made possible by people who care deeply about the movement to transform education for the most underserved youth and communities in America.

The community of Surge investors is as diverse, brilliant and passionate as many of the emerging leaders we serve.

Greg Gunn and Lisette Nieves have been a part of this movement for years, giving in large amounts to support programming for Surge Fellows in their journey to grow as leaders and agents of change.

“When I think about the Surge movement in general,” Lisette said. “All of the alums understand the power that they have to make structural impact.”

These are just two of the many inspiring voices lifting up this work with their dollars and continued support.

To all of our donors, you are loved and appreciated.

John P. & Anne Welsh McNulty Foundation
Darryl & Angela Cobb
Lindmor Foundation Fund
Greg Gunn & Lisette Nieves
Nneka Rimmer
Paula A. Sneed & Lawrence P. Bass
The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation
David Vitale
Michelle Russell
Thomas Burnette
Connie Casson
Stacy Gibbons
Kaya Henderson
Marene Jennings
Halleemah Nash*
Natalie Neris*
Network for Good
Deborah Quazzo
Barbara Scott
Carmita & George Semaan
Sherina Smith
Judith & Alexander Toland
Erica Bauer*
Roslind Blasingame-Buford
Kim Buckley
Jonathan Chaparro*
Stephanie Davis Michelman
Kevin Hall
Aaron Lieberman
Daphne Morgan
Althea Parker
Kimberly M. Foxx
Ashley Richardson*
Heidi Rudolph
Sandra Rush
Varsha Vig
Investments of $5,000 or more Funds full tuition for a Surge Fellow Investments of $1,000 to $2,999 Supports key fellowship program components, such as Shark Tank. Investments of $500 to $999 Supports a monthly session for a Surge * Surge Fellowship Alumni
Up to $499 Supports 360 assessment for a fellow
Sara Allan
Angie Alleman
Becky Altman
Erin Amico
Heather Anichini
Jackie Arias
Juan Arias
Juan Sebastian Arias
Stephanie Arias*
Andres Avila*
Luis Avila
Jeremy Babcock
Marche Barney
Jocelyn Basley
Nicole Beechum*
Chanelle Bell
Fran Bell
Rachel Bennett
Sarah Berghorst
Michelle Bess*
Swati Bharteey-Buck
Liam Bird*
Jaclyn Bivins
Andrea Black*
Zulmarie Bosques
Elisa Botello*
Kelley Bottoms
Julianne Boulware*
Becca Bracy Knight
Christina Brandt
Angela Brizant Layne*
Anne Brown
Chaneice Brown
Mary Anne Buckman
Jennifer Burrowes
Otto Burston
Kathleen Caliento
Caitrin Cardosi
Thaddeus Chavez
Tania Clerisme
Jose Collazo
Christian Collins*
William Collins*
Allen Connelly
Melissa Connelly*
Claudia Corral
Nathalie Cuevas-Rosa
Florence Culpepper
Laura Cummings
Paula Dawning
Megan Delaney
Adrian DeLeon*
Aarti Dhupelia
Christine Diaz*
Cesar Dominguez*
Lildella Douglas*
Tosha Downey
Sasha Dzubay
Michelle Edmonds
Imah Effiong
Susan Ellis
Alejandro Espinoza Olazaba*
Mario Estrada Earnest*
Charlesnika Evans
Tom & Sue Fangmann
Emily Feltes
Kaleya Ferguson
Amanda Fernandez
Maggie Fernelius
Bodee Kittikamron & Iliana Mora
Kyla Fletcher
Aurora Flores Garcia*
Sylvia Flowers
Wendell Fortson
Tanya Foucher
Janine Franklin
Christopher Frazier
Carly Friedman
Selene Garcia
Susan Garr
Enrique Garza
Christopher Goins*
Clifton Goins IV
David Gold
PuraCarina Gonzalez*
David Gordon
D. Nigel Green*
Brian Greenberg
Antonio Gutierrez
Mark Haggarty
Shayna Hammond
Alita Haque
Danielle Harbison
Michael Harris
Vincent Harris
Yolanda Harris
Elizabeth Hart Walker
Monica Haslip
Amy Hendricksen
Cecily Relucio Hensler
Dawn Hicks*
Jennifer Hill
Matt Hill
Erica Hines*
Pat Hodo
Tamara Hoff*
Darrick Hooker
Annie Houston
Jeff & Akeshia Howell
Ceddrick Hunter Jr.*
Adria Husband*
Jennifer Husbands
Bryan Jackson*
Marcia Jeffries
Safi Jiroh
Michael Johns*
Ariel Johnson*
Don Johnson
Marilyn H. Johnson
Shenita Johnson*
Sylvia Jordan
Kasia Kalata
Kimberly Kays
Michelle Kemp*
Jessica Kim
Bodee Kittikamron &
Iliana Mora
Audrey Lane
Khadeejah Lasuc-Lewis*
Bridget Lee
Christin Lee
Gloria Lee
Keith Lewis
* Surge Fellowship Alumni
Up to $499 Supports 360 assessment for a fellow
Kimberly Lewis
Elizabeth Liebovitz
Hassahn Liggins
Rudy Lozano*
Monisha Lozier
Ibrahim Majeed
Liliahn Majeed
Grisel Maldonado*
Jesse Marcano
Kyra Marcano
Elizabeth Marcus
Simone Marean
Tyra Mariani
Pablo Marotta
Kara Martin
Ana Martinez*
Rito Martinez
Michael Marzano II
Tonya Mayes
Stacy McAuliffe
Adelric McCain*
Sharice McCants
Hareder McDowell
Dominique McKoy*
Anita Mendoza
Debbie Merovitz
Arthur Mills IV
Margi Miranda
Stacey D Mitchell*
Liza Mohanty
Leonard Mondi
Candace Moore*
Forrest Moore
Raynal Moore
Paul Morgan*
Donald Moses
Larry Moses
ángela munguía*
Marisa Muñoz
Dominique Myles*
D Neal
Jennifer Niles
Maura Oneill
Afam Onyema
Nche Onyema*
Chris Paicely
Jamie Paicely
Stacey Paicely
Bianca Paiz*
Kali Patrice
Elizabeth Pattara
Ashley Patterson
Amanda Paz*
Ana Paz
Shana Pearson
Delilah Perez
Kenneth Perkins
Jonathan Perry
Marco Antonio Pinto
Jawann Pollard*
Pazazz Pollard
Paige Ponder
Angela Pope
Keyonn Pope
Latisha Porter
Mark Potter
Tamara Prather
Abigail Prescott
Elsa Prieto
Mariel Race
Kellee Randle
Andrew Rayner
Lata Reddy
Marilyn Rhames*
Henry Ricks
Jose Rico
Julia Rivero
Ferlillia Roberson
Alicia Robinson
Mónica Rodriguez
Kerrien Rollins Suarez
Evan Rudall
Sandra Rush Smith
Tamiko Saame
Khair Sadrud-Din*
Maraliz Salgado*
Lydia Sanchez
Nina Sanchez*
Sheila Saremzadeh
Adrian Segura
LeShonne Segura*
Michelle Seijas
Jackie Sergi
Andrea Serrano*
Pete Shulman
Sarah Sicher
Singla Consulting Inc
DuJuan Smith*
Jaclyn Smith
Preston Smith
Sherina Smith
Kellie Solliday
Nicole Spicer*
Mora Spicer II
Sara Spivy
Jade Stanfield
Jacqueline Statum Allen
Tina Suh
Brianna Swartz
Dana Sweet
TaMikka Sykes*
Amanda Taft-Pearman
Elaine Tarver
Chenault Taylor
Rhonda Thomas
Sharon Thomas Parrott
Natalia Torres*
Susan Tovar*
Amber Tucker
Christine Turcuato Gutierrez
Ashlie Tyler*
Christopher Valentine
Susanna Ver Eecke
Vatika Vig
Rebekah Vossler
Gayle Walker
Willow Walker*
Dafina Ward
Miya Warner
Tarsa Washington
Joycelynn Watkins-Asiyanbi
Anthony Watson*
Chiquita Watts
Tonya Weatherly
Vanessa Weathersby
* Surge Fellowship Alumni
Cynthia Weiss
Megan Wharton
Adrianne Wheeler
Lakecia Whimper
Gail Willett
Cassie Williams*
DeRonda Williams
Valarie Williams-Irons
Terra Winston
Katie Wise
Sam Wong
Julie Woolf
Michael Wren
Lakeshia Wright
Kathleen Yoder
Jenny Zuluaga

Andres Avila*
Michelle Bess*
Becca & Kevin Bracy Knight
Kathleen Caliento
Jonathan Chaparro*
Jennifer Collett Niles
William Collins*
Florence Culpepper
Cesar Dominguez*
Alejandro Espinoza Olazaba*
Sylvia Flowers
D. Nigel Green*
Kaya Henderson
Jeff & Akeshia Howell
Ana Martinez*
Arthur Mills IV
Donald Moses
Halleemah Nash*
Chris Paicely
Bianca Paiz*
Jawann Pollard*
Ashley Richardson*
Sandra Rush
Carmita & George Semaan
Swartz-Prasad Family
Valarie Williams-Irons
Roslind Blasingame-Buford
Darryl & Angela Cobb
Michael Harris
Pablo Marotta
Rito Martinez
Debbie Merovitz
Tamara Prather
Nneka Rimmer
Sandra Rush
Paula A. Sneed & Lawrence P. Bass
The Cleveland Avenue Foundation
for Education
Up to $499
Supports 360 assessment for a fellow
Recurring monthly investors in the Surge movement Givers who supported the Surge “Power of Us” Partnership with Hamilton Chicago GUARDIANS SCHOLARSHIP
Surge would like to give special thanks to the 2017 Surge Alumni, The Guardians, who collectively gave enough to pay the tuition of a Surge Fellow! Their continued committment to this movement is truly beautiful and appreciated. * Surge Fellowship Alumni



“My hope for my time in the Surge Academy is to grow my beloved community. I hope to learn what it looks like for me to be empowered, and not just in the workplace. I want to make a change in education on a systemic level and I know that it starts with building myself and Surge is part of that journey.”

SURGE ACADEMY — Selina Rios 2019 Surge Academy Fellow, Kansas City

Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, Surge Founder and President Carmita Semaan understands first hand the scarcity of leadership development programs for education leaders in mid-size to smaller cities across America.

The mission of the Surge movement has always been to transform education for all our underserved youth and communities. This meant exploring an approach that addresses needs and communities that may be different from those of major metropolises.

With this mission in mind and heart—and thanks to funding from the Kauffman Foundation—Surge Academy was born in Kansas City, a beautifully unique intersection of two states with a community of emerging leaders of color, looking to connect and provoke meaningful change.



“This seed money empowers us to address—through healing—the collateral damage suffered by our youth of color as a result of community violence manifested from hurt people and broken systems in the Chicagoland area. We can’t say thank you enough to the Surge Institute for creating this opportunity.”

SURGE ANGELS — Michael Johns 2016 Surge Alum, Chicago

Our 2018 Walton Family Foundation-funded pilot program, Surge Angels, allowed entrepreneurial Surge Alumni the opportunity to secure funding, guidance, and support in taking their innovative ventures to the next level. 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.

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.

Surge Angels supports our alumni in their continued journey toward transforming urban education. As Surge evolves its alumni programming, we will use Surge Angels as a blueprint of how we support leaders of color with their own entrepreneurial vision for impact.

The most influential movements were built with intention and sound strategy. Surge is no different.

As we look to the future, we are thoughtful about our fiscal outlook and how we utilize the financial support we have received from individual investors, foundational grants and program income.

See not only how our work is funded, but how those funds are used toward building programs and space for the growth, development, and unity of the next generation of education leaders.

STATEMENT OF ACTIVITIES FINANCIALS These financial statements were abstracted from the Organization’s June 30, 2018 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.

LEADERSHIP TEAM BOARD OF DIRECTORS As this report has revealed, 2018 was a massive year for the Surge movement. To all who invested their time and energy toward supporting our work and mission, we thank you.

If you’re new to the Surge community and your heart has been moved by the stories of our people all across the nation, please consider joining in this journey by volunteering, donating or just connecting with us for a conversation. We see a bright future.

To learn more about how you can join this movement visit surgeinstitute.org.

All inquiries can be sent to info@surgeinstitute.org We look forward to hearing from you!