To educate and develop leaders of color who create transformative change for young people, their families and our broader communities.


We are the preeminent pipeline addressing the dearth of leadership of color at decision-making tables. Surge educates, empowers and energizes leaders of color who will create transformative change in the communities they serve.



The Surge story begins with a black woman working at the executive level of a school district. Carmita Semaan witnessed first-hand a glaring lack of diversity at the leadership level as well as the direct impact of that disconnect on the predominantly students of color the district served. There—and in many boardrooms since—she grew tired of being one of few voices with any shared experience with the students and families served.

Carmita benefitted from a strong educational background and success in corporate and nonprofit spaces, which assist her in navigating leadership in education with aplomb. She’d driven systemic changes at local and national levels but too many people – especially those with similar personal backgrounds – fail to gain the access, networks, and opportunities necessary to impact change at that level.

In 2014, Carmita founded the Surge Institute, an education leadership accelerator with a simple but important mission: Educate and develop leaders of color who create transformative change for young people, their families, and our broader communities.

The Institute’s first program, the Surge Fellowship, was designed to identify and elevate emerging diverse talent and embolden them to change the landscape of education by providing them with a unique leadership development experience. Surge goes beyond training. Surge connects, supports, and elevates; and we do it all in love and through community. Since the Fellowship’s launch in April 2015, Surge has grown a family of hundreds nationally, operating in Oakland, Washington D.C., and several cities in between.

Number of Surge Alums
Number of Surge Cities
+ million
Number of Students Impacted

The story of Surge’s success has brought us increased support and influence as we strive toward the ultimate goal of making a positive impact in communities across the country through representative education leadership.

“I expected Surge to be more of a professional endeavor. I never expected it to be a space where I reflected on my past professional and personal experiences and understand how that has shaped me as a leader. For the first time, I saw kind, confident, authentic female leaders, and that is what I aspire to be.” 

— Cheryl Flores, 2019 Surge Alum, Director of Community Engagement, Advance Illinois