Our History

Founded in 1998 by three Teach for America alumni, the Sunflower County Freedom Project grew and demonstrated remarkable results, gaining the attention and interest of a group of community leaders in Meridian, Mississippi who were searching for opportunities to support and challenge the youth in their city. In 2014, the Meridian Freedom Project opened its doors to middle and high school students from Meridian Public Schools and paved the way for the second expansion site, the Rosedale Freedom Project, founded in 2015.

Founded in 2016, the Freedom Project Network was formed to support the work being done at each Freedom Project site. The Freedom Project Network is committed to:

  • Building capacity for each Freedom Project site through coordinated fundraising and staff support.

  • Encouraging and facilitating cooperation among Freedom Project affiliates

  • Strengthening the network with deliberate, thoughtful, and community-supported expansion.


BOARD MEMBERS

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Chris Myers Asch, Co-founder

A native of Washington, D.C., Chris Myers Asch came to Sunflower with Teach For America in 1994. After four years in the classroom (including a year in South Korea), he helped launch the Freedom Project in 1998 and ran the program until 2006. He has done many things since—earned a doctorate in history, worked to build the U.S. Public Service Academy, wrote a book, taught at a university—but his best job may always be the years he spent as “Mr. Myers,” the head of the SCFP. He and his wife, Erica, have three children and currently live in Hallowell, Maine.

 

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Shawn Raymond, Co-founder

Shawn taught a variety of subjects at Ruleville Central High School for two years as part of the Teach for America and Americorps programs.  While in law school, he teamed up with his former TFA roommates, Gregg and Chris, to create the Freedom Project.  He’s a partner at Susman Godfrey L.L.P. in Houston, Texas – a law firm that successfully recruited him by making what at the time was the largest single donation the Freedom Project had ever received.  Shawn enjoys taking his three little boys for visits to Sunflower to see the incredible things happening at the Freedom Project.

 

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Gregg Costa, Co-founder

Gregg taught 3rd and 4th grade for two years at East Sunflower Elementary as part of Teach for America.  Gregg and Freedom Project Co-Founder Chris Myers were the first Teach for America teachers ever placed in the town of Sunflower.  After his time in Sunflower, Gregg returned to his home state of Texas to attend law school and practice law.  Gregg is now a federal judge in Houston, Texas, where he relies on the classroom management techniques he learned as an elementary school teacher to help control a group that is far more unruly than his former students—lawyers. 

 

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Lukendric A. Washington, Sunflower County Freedom Project

Luke is a Moorhead, MS native, graduate of Gentry High School in Indianola, and alumnus of the Sunflower County Freedom Project. College trips with the SCFP to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill convinced Luke to pursue his undergraduate degree at UNC where he made the Dean’s List and became the BSM Homecoming King. After graduating, Luke earned a law degree at Florida A&M College of Law and then an LLM degree in Taxation at the University of Miami School of Law. Since then, he has enjoyed a career that includes Bankruptcy Law, Estate Planning, and Corporate Law & Accounting. He now works in the area of Wealth Management as an entrepreneur where he combines his law, accounting, and investment skills to help families plan their finances.

LaToysha Brown, Rosedale Freedom Project

LaToysha Brown is a native of Indianola, MS and alumni of the Sunflower County Freedom Project. She graduated from The University of Southern Mississippi where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in sociology focusing on education and criminal justice reform with a minor in Black Studies. As a sophomore in college, she began working at the Rosedale Freedom Project and has been a part of the organization ever since.

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Kimberly Denison is a native Texan who now calls East Mississippi home. She graduated with a B.A. in International Studies with a focus in Humanitarian Aid and Development from the University of North Texas. Kimberly relocated to Mississippi from New Orleans, where she worked in the post-Katrina criminal justice system as a Public Defender investigator supporting indigent defendants facing capital charges. Her spirit of advocacy continued after her move to Meridian, MS, where she helped to found and raise nearly $6 million for the Mississippi Children’s Museum – Meridian.

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Emily Gowen, At-Large Board Member

Emily Gowen is a Ph.D candidate in the English department at Boston University. She is an alumna of the Match Corps, a year-long urban education fellowship that trains recent college graduates to be high impact teachers. She was also the founding director of development for Freedom Summer Collegiate and directed fundraising and communications efforts for the organization between 2016 and 2019.

Executive Director

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Andy Donnelly

Andy was the founder of the Freedom Summer Collegiate program and is currently serving as the director of the Freedom Project Network. Andy taught high school English through Teach for America in Lake Village, AR and he is now a PhD Candidate in English at Harvard University. For questions about the Freedom Project Network, send an email to andy@freedomsummercollegiate.org.