Surge Institute and Education Forward DC Partner for Washington, D.C. Launch of the Surge Academy, an Executive Program for Leaders of Color in Education

Are you or a leader you know interested in learning more about the 2022 Surge Academy cohort in D.C.? All candidates can fill out this form to be notified of upcoming virtual events as well as when the application is live. The program’s homepage can also be referenced for any updates regarding the application timeline.

(Washington, D.C. – August 23, 2021) The Surge Academy, a national program that develops, elevates and unites leaders of color within the education and youth-serving space, will be expanding to Washington, D.C. The expansion of the Surge Academy is made possible thanks to a partnership with Education Forward DC, an organization that accelerates the work of visionary education leaders to foster a city of high-quality, equitable public schools for every DC student and family.

Designed by the Surge Institute, the Surge Academy program provides an intensive leadership experience, packed with powerful content that explores executive skills such as finance, strategic planning and change management. In addition, throughout the program, fellows engage in a deep and unflinching dialogue about personal growth, trauma and the true state of diversity, equity and inclusion in the United States. Jahna Riley (KC’20), an alumna of the program and Founder of Aya Coffee + Books, shares what she gained personally from her Surge Academy experience:

“I’ve leaned into my values, and I am much more self-assured and unapologetic. Because of my Surge experience, what was once a dream and a long-term goal is now a reality. I have grown to be comfortable with calling myself an educator, an entrepreneur, and a Visionary.”

Launched in Kansas City, the six-month fellowship program originally brought together a cohort of 11 African-American and Latinx emerging leaders to explore how they can collectively transform education to best serve all youth and communities. To date, the program has graduated three cohorts, two in Kansas City and one in Indianapolis respectively, totaling 44 leaders who have transitioned into Surge’s National Alumni Network of more than 200 leaders of color. In previous expansions of the program, the Surge Institute has partnered with organizations such as:

Investing in the Surge Academy is part of the Education Forward DC’s commitment to building a future where students starting furthest from opportunity can chart their own path and thrive​. Fonda Sutton, Partner, Public Engagement at Education Forward, shares what the partnership means for leaders of color in the Washington, D.C. educational landscape:

“An education system that serves all students better is only possible if the voices, experiences, and needs of communities of color figure more prominently in our city’s education planning and decision-making,” shared Sutton. “Surge Academy DC will focus on building up and networking leaders who have shared experiences with the communities we care about and provide space for fellows to challenge and support one another in building on their dreams for students of color. We are excited to support the creation of a stronger network of Black and Latinx leaders united in shifting existing power dynamics and driving systemic change for education in DC.”

Upon graduating from the Surge Academy, fellows maintain a deep connection to the Surge national movement, united in the purpose of building an equitable future for communities of color.

To learn more about applying to the Surge Academy in Washington, D.C., the Surge Institute welcomes local leaders of color to attend an upcoming virtual networking event. These spaces are an opportunity to be in community with like-minded leaders and learn more about the program’s recruitment process. Registration and additional details are available on the Surge Academy homepage. Applications for the cohort will open in November 2021.

Sign up for the Surge Institute’s Quarterly Newsletter and follow the Surge Institute and Surge Academy on social media to stay informed about upcoming events, news and related developments.


Marisa Muñoz

c: 773-251-7475


About The Surge Institute:

The Surge Institute is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that was established 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 in 2014, the organization was designed to empower emerging diverse leaders to change the landscape of education by providing them with a unique, authentic leadership development experience. To learn more about The Surge Institute, please visit:

About Education Forward DC:

Education Forward DC works to advance quality and equity in DC public schools. We are committed to doubling the number of underserved students in Washington, DC in five years who are college and career ready, with a particular focus on at-risk and special education students. We provide grants across the city, offer advisory support to our grantees, and coordinate work across sectors, schools, and organizations in DC to ensure a great public school for every DC student. To learn more about Education Forward DC, please visit: