The COVID-19 global pandemic has had a disastrous impact on the lives of people all over the world, and the Surge community of education leaders of color is no different.

At Surge, we’ve had the honor of elevating and supporting transformative leaders of color across the education and youth-serving ecovillage: our Surge Fellows and Alumni. These are individuals who work to dismantle oppressive structures and systems and seek to provide better education opportunities and a brighter future for our young people. They tackle giants daily – and win!

In 2020, our community had some major giants to tackle.

The burden of COVID has sat heavily on families. Basic needs that many take for granted—food, shelter, and security—have been rapidly growing concerns, particularly for those without the income to save ahead of the pandemic. In addition to these challenges is the heightened civil unrest resulting from police brutality and racial inequity across the nation.

The challenges have been real, and right now Surge Fellows and Alumni all over the country are feeling the impact on themselves and the communities they serve.

To help relieve some of the pressure on the families they are serving, on April 1 we launched the Surge Relief Fund, created to address some of the most pressing needs of the communities that our Surge Fellows and Alums are serving. We are proud to share that we raised more than $150,000 in donations and pledges, all of which are being used to serve communities in need during this time! 

We are truly thankful to all of the individual donors who supported this campaign. Every dollar contributed to this fund was deeply valued and appreciated. We’d like to give special recognition to a group of supporters who gave large sums in the service of communities in need:

Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation 

Margulf Foundation

Art & Lindsay Reimers

John P. & Anne Welsh McNulty Foundation (in partnership with Aspen Global Leadership Network)

Michelle Russell

Paula Sneed & Lawrence Bass Family Charitable Fund

We received lots of interest from across the Surge community, and spread the effort across two application periods. We assembled a selection committee of staff, alums, and current fellows to evaluate each application and make a final decision.  

We are happy to announce that awards have been made to 30 different organizations across the nation. Among the awardees was Homies Empowerment, an organization operating a food pantry in East Oakland. Enrich Chicago is contracting with anti-racism trainers and delivering anti-racism education to more than 300 people. The Sankofa Leadership Initiative in Kansas City will provide leadership training to supplement karate training for youth and families. All of the awards were distributed to the organizations thanks of the work and leadership of Surge Fellows and Alums. See the full list awardees below.




Steven Rosado

Chicago, 2019

Praxis Institute Chicago

Roilyn Graves

Oakland 2019

Envision Education

Amanda Paz

Chicago, 2018

Civic Consulting Alliance

Darryl McDavid

Oakland, 2020

Fresh Lifelines for Youth, Inc (FLY)

Gabriel Sanchez

Oakland, 2020

Homies Empowerment

Stephanie Arias

Chicago, 2017

Cristo Rey Network

Cescily Phillips

Kansas City, 2020

Inspired Aesthetics

Tyfahra Singleton

Oakland, 2020

Humanize Us All

Tiara Wheatley

Chicago, 2020

Chicago Tech Academy

Roxanne Rose

Oakland, 2020

Achieve Academy

Aiyeshia Wong

Chicago, 2020

CICS Global Leaders Initiative

Nina Sanchez

Chicago, 2017

Enrich Chicago

Paul Fields

Oakland, 2019

The Knowledge House

Bernadette Pilar Zermeno

Oakland, 2018


Janene Ingram

Chicago, 2019

Wood Family Foundation

Cristina Marquez

Kansas City, 2020

Kansas City Girls Preparatory Academy

Liam Bird

Chicago, 2018

LRF Bird Equity Consulting

David Muhammad

Kansas City, 2020

Sankofa Leadership Initiative

Ty-Licia Hooker

Oakland, 2019

Boost! West Oakland

Harold Pearson

Oakland, 2018

Student Program for Academic & Athletic Transitioning (SPAAT)

Angela Munguia

Chicago, 2018

Chicago Freedom School

Paul Morgan

Chicago, 2018

Chicago Youth Centers

Andrea Black

Chicago, 2017

Schmidt Elementary – Chicago Public Schools

Andres Avila

Chicago, 2017

Dream Pursuers Club @ Back of the Yards High School – Chicago Public Schools

Dirrick Butler

Chicago, 2019

Project OneTen

Lateshia Woodley

Kansas City, 2020

House of a Second Chance

Randy Seriguchi

Oakland, 2018

Urban Ed Academy

Sanam Jorjani

Oakland, 2019

Oakland Literacy Coalition

Sara Rizik-Baer

Oakland, 2018

Tandem Early Learning

Taica Hsu

Oakland, 2019


In closing, please enjoy a short message of gratitude from a student of the Dream Pursuers Club at the Back of the Yards High School. This was not a bandage on a wound. This was a village helping to raise children, who will go on to build new and better villages, partially fueled by moments like these.

The Surge Institute is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, therefore all monetary donations to the Surge Institute are tax deductible.

To learn more about Surge, send us an email at We look forward to hearing from you!