Beginning in 2019, the Surge Academy was introduced as space for leaders of color in education and youth-serving roles to come together for an intensive six-month fellowship experience, diving into a wide range of topics relating to the education landscape and our collective mission to generate impact with and for communities of color. And back in January 2020, we humbly welcomed the second cohort of 17 African-American and Latinx geniuses into the program in Kansas City.

Throughout the 2020 Surge Academy journey, there have been a number of challenges given the current social climate as well as the effects on the nation by COVID-19, which led our in-person fellowship sessions to be shifted to a virtual environment. But in a sentiment left to us by the brilliant Maya Angelou, “Still we’ll rise,” and rose this cohort did. Six months after the beginning of this journey, we are now excited to welcome our 2020 Kansas City cohort, The Visionaries, as official Surge Alumni!

During a recent virtual gathering, Surge Alumni, Edgar Palacios (KC 2019) and Catina Taylor (KC 2020) had the opportunity to speak on their experience within the program, and Taylor shared the following:

“In light of many of the social things that are going on across the country right now, I have been uncharacteristically different, and I like it. (During the fellowship), I learned who I was in a different way, about who I wanted to be, and what was hindering me from being that person. It’s a choice, every single day that you wake up, and Surge was that opportunity for me to get there. We don’t have to be who people say we are.”

The Surge space has always been one of healing and elevation, and it became needed more than ever during this period of our lives. And though the fellowship journey experienced numerous shifts, it remained that sacred space for collaboration, collective growth, and community building.

Catina also stated, “Most people think about fellowship programs as real practical stuff, like these skills and objectives you need to meet and that is Surge but you also have the whole other component, which is the soul work.”

Elevating and energizing our fellows, all of whom are leaders of color and champions of their work in education, has been Surge’s mission since its inception in 2014, and this will continue to be the focus for these Visionaries as Surge Alumni. Surge Academy Program Director, Noemí Cortés, shares:

“Working with Kansas City Fellows is a dream! They are committed to being in community with each other to further the work of education justice for our kids, and they are intensely welcoming and loving. Their collective joy and brilliance is awe-inspiring. I adore this group; both their willingness to be all in with Surge and with each other. They truly are Visionaries about the breadth of spaces and places of liberation for our people they are already working to engage; I can’t wait to see their visions come to fruition!”

It has been amazing to see the transformations that have taken place within the 2020 Surge Academy cohort, and we are excited to see the Visionaries’ impact and reach continue throughout the Kansas City landscape and beyond!

See the full list of the 2020 Surge Academy Graduates below, and click HERE to view more photos from their journey: