(Indianapolis, IN) On June 18th, the Surge Institute brought together their inaugural Indianapolis Surge Academy cohort for the first time to celebrate their recent transition into Surge’s national alumni network, to build community as the newly named Colectivo Asé (Surge Cohort name), as well as to behold a number of presentations of Freedom Dreams Projects (formerly known as the fellowship’s Capstone Presentation) from the 2021 Indianapolis cohort.

The Freedom Dreams Project is an opportunity for Surge Institute Fellows to actualize a project that is most reflective of their hopes and aspirations of love, justice and equity–for the community and for themselves as education and youth-serving leaders. It is a chance for them to move ideas from concept to reality, leveraging the community of support provided by the Surge Academy.

During presentations, six leaders of Colectivo Asé shared their Freedom Dream with a panel of evaluators who are experienced minds, experts and leaders of color within the Indianapolis education and youth-serving landscape. Such leaders included Miriam Acevedo Davis, President & CEO at La Plaza; Patricia Castañeda, Relationship Manager at Key@Work program – KeyBank; Samuel Odle, Senior Policy Advisor at Bose Public Affairs Group; and LaTonya Turner, Dean of The Klipsch Educators College at Marian University.

The Surge Institute and community are honored to congratulate each of the presenters with an award that will go towards actualizing their respective initiative. See the full list of awardees below.

Allissa Impink

Manager of Community Engagement, K-12 Advocacy

UNCF (United Negro College Fund)

Pathways to Building Better Futures 

A K-12 Education Fellowship program aimed at building a robust pipeline of high-achieving students of color who are engaged in education reform. This educational leadership and career development program for African American and other college students of color will also provide industry experience and job placement support.

Nicole Carey


Anda Spanish

The Indy Equity Collaborative

A Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Consulting Firm focused on changing the educational landscape of Indianapolis by actively supporting schools who are seeking system level equity solutions and also need support for staff, ground-level systems, and coaching.

Geoff Fenelus

Founder/Executive Director


Board, Education, and Transformation

The mission of Board, Education, and Transformation is to inspire, transform, and support charter school and education non-profit boards in Indianapolis and beyond in underserved communities to leave a clear mark.

Ava Fenelus

Assistant Dean of Online Programs & Associate Professor of Science

Relay Graduate School of Education


A seminar and reflection-based journey for people of color involved in social justice and/or liberatory work. The LeadFree experience guides social justice leaders in interrogating their definition and experience of freedom, especially in the context of their work, in order to actually choose freely how they will lead in their work.

Ronni Moore

College and Career Readiness Coordinator

Purdue Polytechnic High School North

Liberation School

A holistic learning space where young people dream big for their future with the advantage of unique and personalized career discovery opportunities, mentorship in the area of student individual career interest, and micro-grant funding for students to support extended learning opportunities/the purchase of equipment, etc.

Carolina Figueroa

Bilingual Community Organizer

Stand for Children

Naptown United

A new soccer club serving the downtown area through extensive and diverse soccer and futsal programs. Our mission is to create an inclusive and intersectional environment that fosters accessible social and emotional learning by leveraging resources for community through the beautiful game. The vision is that Naptown United educates, equips, and empowers the downtown community in working collaboratively towards imagining a safe and brave new future for all.

Each initiative will continue to expand in vision and be connected to the collective efforts of leaders of color who are aiming to transform what education can and should look like for communities of color in Indianapolis.

“I left the presentation room on fire because there are truly some amazing things happening in Indianapolis, and it was an honor to hear our Surge Alums’ freedom dreams,” said Will Collins, VP of Development & External Affairs at the Surge Institute & 2017 Surge Alum.

After a powerful beginning to the day through the freedom dreams presentations, those in attendance transitioned into the closing ceremony and luncheon space where Surge staff, friends, family and peers gathered in recognition and celebration of Colectivo Asé.

A notable theme that underscored the celebration was freedom, or libertad in spanish. Alumna Ava Fenelus opened the space with some warm, welcoming words and also posed the question to the audience: “What do you see, feel and hear as a free person in your free world?”

Patrick Jones, Sr. Vice President of Leadership and Equity at The Mind Trust, shared his own words as the afternoon’s keynote speaker, offering reflections that highlight the connections between Surge’s four programmatic objectives: Dream Big, Focus Inward, Know the Landscape, and Make an Impact, to the seven principles of Kwanzaa: Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith). He shared, “Over the past 10 months, you (Colectivo Asé) have been able to deeply experience and live these ideals (of Kwanzaa) through the prestigious Surge Academy.”

Jones concluded, “(Colectivo Asé), continue to move mountains for your freedom dream because in a world full of ‘nos’ and ‘not yets,’ the dreamers are the only ones who can provide the universe with the sweet sustenance of hope.”

This celebration also included a warm farewell to Surge staff member Noemí Cortés, who will be transitioning out of her position as Surge Academy’s Program Director. Noemí has been a part of the Surge family since the Surge Academy’s inception in Kansas City in 2018, facilitating the program for three cohorts of Black and Latinx leaders. “My wish to you all is that you all continue to share love in solidarity with each other and continue to do the dreaming, remembering, re-imagining and the continual hope into all the things that are possible outside of the colonial concept of what it is we have been handed,” Noemí shared during the ceremony’s conclusion.

“I am grateful for each of you (alumni) and for who you are and always will be.” The Surge Institute is forever thankful for Noemí for being a leader who continues to step into her power and brilliance and for sharing that with the Surge community of fellows, alumni, peers and supporters.

See here to meet the leaders of the 2021 Surge Academy Indianapolis cohort.

The expansion of the Surge Academy to Indianapolis is made possible with the partnership of The Mind Trust, an education focused non-profit organization whose mission is to provide every student in Indianapolis, no exceptions, with access to a high-quality education.

Sign up for the Surge Institute’s Quarterly Newsletter to stay informed about upcoming Academy events, news and related developments. You can also follow the Surge Institute and Surge Academy on social media at @Surge_Institute and @Academy_Surge respectively.


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: www.surgeinstitute.org

About The Surge Academy:

Designed by the Surge Institute, the Surge Academy is a program for education and youth-serving leaders of color that provides an intensive fellowship experience, packed with powerful content that explores executive skills such as finance, strategic planning and change management. The experience also includes a deep and unflinching dialogue about personal growth, trauma and the true state of diversity, equity and inclusion in America.