The Surge Institute is excited to announce the talented Surge Alumni selected for the 2024 Surge Angels cohort. Aligning with the Surge Institute’s mission to develop leaders of color, the Surge Angels program is specifically designed to amplify the influence of emerging entrepreneurs and business leaders in education who have completed the Surge Fellowship.
Surge Angels offers a unique opportunity for participants – BIPOC entrepreneurs who historically do not receive equitable access to funding – to bridge the divide between concept, business readiness, and execution. Recognizing the complexities of transitioning from idea to funded venture for these founders, Surge Angels provides essential knowledge, confidence, and support to navigate this journey successfully.
“I am thrilled to introduce the newest cohort of visionary entrepreneurs, all distinguished alumni of the Surge Fellowship, embarking on a journey to create positive change in the business landscape,” said Tiara Wheatley, Surge Institute’s Vice President of Alumni Impact. “Focused on serving BIPOC communities, these trailblazers are committed to improving outcomes for BIPOC students through their innovative ventures. As they set out to make a lasting impact, we proudly welcome this dynamic group of leaders to the Surge Angels cohort, where passion meets purpose, and dreams transform into reality. Get ready for a wave of transformative initiatives that will shape a brighter future for us all.”
The following group of Surge alumni represents a dynamic assembly of visionary entrepreneurs, all driven by a commitment to driving transformative change in education.
Introducing the 2024 Surge Angels Cohort:
Amaris Evans | Black Girls Do Math Too LLC (CHI23): Amaris Evans, from Detroit, Michigan, developed her passion for mathematics and education through influential childhood educators. Her journey in mathematics began in fourth grade, assisting at a Professional Development event, and she later excelled in Academic Games, achieving national recognition. She credits Ms. Hunter for this transformative experience.
Cescily Phillips | Inspired Aesthetics (KC20): Cescily Phillips, founder of Inspired Aesthetics, hails from Chicago and values community, creativity, faith, and authenticity. Influenced by impactful people and programs in her life, she is a University of Missouri alumna, dedicated to giving back and seeking growth opportunities.
Mandisa John | Empowerment Hub (PHILA23): Mandisa John, a University of Pennsylvania graduate, has dedicated over a decade to Philadelphia’s education system, focusing on program development, teacher support, and diversity initiatives. She aims to mentor young people, providing them with resources and opportunities to succeed. Mandisa is committed to being a role model for the youth.
Marcus Wilson | The Village Network (DC22): Marcus Wilson, an educator from New Orleans, founded The Gentlemen’s Club for student empowerment during his teaching career. A University of Georgia graduate, he focuses on community, leadership, and service, and is driven by a vision of long-term impact.
Michelle Cody | In The Moment (OAK22): Michelle Cody, a 6th-grade math teacher in San Francisco, is a public school graduate with over 20 years of experience in middle school education. She emphasizes Social Justice in math education and holds degrees from City College of San Francisco, Howard University, and the University of San Francisco.
Naomi Fierro Peña | That Art Party (OAK22): Naomi Fierro Peña, founder of That Art Party, is a Mexican-American from San Francisco, focusing on creative rest and artistic experiences for BIPOC adults. With a background in teaching and DEI direction, she merges her professional skills with her passion for art and play.
Scott Tillman | STEM and Innovation Society (CHI22): Scott Tillman, a higher education administrator with over 10 years of experience, specializes in DEI strategies and student success. He is pursuing a Ph.D. in Technology and Humanities and aims to bridge urban K-12 schools with higher education for underrepresented students.
T. Michelle Colson | Esther Estate (DC23): T. Michelle Colson, a Washington D.C. native and public school graduate, serves as Dean of Students at D.C. Public Schools and is pursuing a doctoral degree at Howard University. Her work focuses on school discipline, climate, and safety, and she is committed to supporting marginalized youth, drawing from her personal experiences of homelessness.
Tara Haskins | Honoring Her H.U.E. (KC23): Tara Haskins, a Hampton University graduate, has dedicated a decade to supporting Black and LatinX girls in education. She has significantly reduced suspensions through restorative justice practices and achieved academic goals ahead of schedule, believing in the power of love in education and leadership.
Zeyda Aracely Garcia | Healing Aguas Wellness Solutions (OAK22): Zeyda Garcia, founder of Healing Aguas Wellness Solutions, is a Mexicana, therapist, and school counselor, focusing on mental health services in schools. She creates healing spaces, has developed counseling programs, and trains graduate students at the University of San Francisco. Garcia is also a family-oriented individual, being a bonus mom and aunt.
Each cohort member exemplifies entrepreneurial spirit and a dedication to pioneering innovative solutions in education. Their collective ambition is to enhance education quality and accessibility for all children, a vision that resonates deeply with the core values of the Surge Institute. The ventures of these Surge alums range from early stages to recently launched projects, covering diverse areas such as digital applications, arts-based healing events, student housing, and pre-college STEM programs.
As we welcome these exceptional leaders to the 2024 Surge Angels cohort, we invite our wider community to support their endeavors. Together, we are committed to forging a brighter future for our communities through innovative and transformative educational solutions. The program culminates on June 28, 2024 with the Surge Angels Pitch Night, which will see some of these ventures awarded a total of $100,000 in financial capital.