Surge Institute Announces Virtual Summit in Service to Black Male Educators across the United States

January 2022 Diego Báez

The Poetry Foundation has welcomed Diego Báez (CHI’19) as a new Harriet Books reviewer. Named after Harriet Monroe, the founding editor of Poetry Magazine, Harriet Books centers the work of poets and serves as a portal to the latest poetry-related news.

Read more here.

#SurgeForMore Results | How did the Surge Community reclaim philanthropy in 2021?

(CHICAGO, IL – January 12, 2022) We are excited to share the results from last year’s end-of-year giving campaign, #SurgeForMore. Through the support, generosity and love we received from our community, we were able to raise over $189,000 and received more than 230 individual gifts!

We are eternally grateful to everyone who invested in our movement. All amounts from $10 to $1000 collectively go a long way, not only in the investment of transformative leaders of color, but in the vision we set out for the end of 2021: to reclaim philanthropy for communities of color.

The work of realizing this vision does not end with the conclusion of #SurgeForMore. Rather, it is an ongoing journey of re-imagining exclusionary practices that exist within the philanthropic space and centering the voices of our leaders, youth and communities of color. 

You are a philanthropist, and the 2021 #SurgeForMore campaign has proven that this mission and work is in a powerful place.

We look forward to another impactful, transformative year in 2022. 

Do you want to make a lasting impact? Join the Surge Impact Community to make a monthly investment in leaders of color!


About the Surge Institute

The Surge Institute was established in 2014 with a simple but important mission to develop and elevate leaders of color who create transformative change for children, families, and communities. Founded by Carmita Semaan, the organization’s signature program, the Surge Fellowship, was designed to empower emerging diverse leaders to change the landscape of education by providing them with a unique, authentic leadership development experience. In 2018, the Surge Academy launched in Kansas City, bringing together a cohort of 11 African-American and Latinx emerging leaders to explore how to transform education to best serve all youth and communities. 

To learn more about The Surge Institute, please visit: or or contact Surge’s Manager, Marketing & Outreach, Marisa Muñoz at


January 2022 Aaron Harris

Aaron Harris (OAK’22) has accepted the role of Dean of Instruction at Aspire Golden State Prep.

Aspire’s mission is to open and operate small, high-quality charter schools in low income neighborhoods, in order to: Increase the academic performance of underserved students, develop effective educators, share successful practices with other forward-thinking educators, and catalyze change in public schools.

Learn more about Aspire at:

January 2022 Dirrick Butler

Dirrick Butler (CHI’19) has transitioned to a full-time role of Project OneTen. Founded by Butler as part of his fellowship capstone project, the organization that engages and mentors Black and Brown boys in Chicago during the transition to high school by empowering them to recognize and develop their strengths, academic confidence, and innate brilliance.

As the new Executive Director of Project OneTen, he will lead fundraising, support the development of transformational programming, set a vision and path for growth and deeper impact, and increase organization awareness in the broader Chicago education landscape.

Learn more about Project OneTen at:

November 2021 Ashley N. Leonard

Ashley N. Leonard (CHI’17) served as a panelist for Forefront’s monthly Philanthropy Club convening titled “Black Philanthropy: Money, Mentoring, and More” in her role as a co-chair of the South Side Giving Circle at the Chicago Foundation of Women.

This session was an opportunity to hear from Black philanthropists who support people, causes, and institutions through giving circles, donor-advised funds, alumni programs, and other vehicles. Other panelists included: G. Sequane Lawrence – Fathers, Families, and Healthy Communities, Nicole Layton – Chicago Community Trust; and Rodney Reid – President, RLR Associates, Inc., CEO, NXG Youth Motorsports, Inc., and Team Principal, Force Indy, LLC

Watch a replay of the entire session here.

January 2022 Amanda Paz

Amanda Paz (CHI’18) has been promoted to Associate Principal at the Civic Consulting Alliance. In her new role, she will serve on management team, lead high-impact projects for the City of Chicago, architect and oversee implementation of solutions, manage partnerships with key clients and pro bono partners, as well as coach and supervise colleagues.

Learn more about the Civic Consulting Alliance: