Sean Raymond and Chris Myers Asch

The U.S. Public Service Academy is a wonderful example of what makes America great. It is not the product of a think tank or a focus-group-approved politician’s platform. Instead, it is the brainchild of two thirtysomethings: Chris Myers Asch and Shawn Raymond. In less than a year, the two of them moved the idea from their heads to the halls of Congress.

Asch and Raymond met in 1994 when they joined Teach for America and were sent to teach school in Sunflower County, Mississippi. After their stint in the classroom, they co-founded the Sunflower County Freedom Project, an intensive academic enrichment and leadership development program for middle and high school students. Asch ran the Freedom Project for seven years before leaving in the summer of 2006 to pursue the Academy full-time. Raymond served as chairman of the Freedom Project’s board while pursuing a legal career in Houston.

In early 2006, they began sending proposals outlining the Academy to anyone they thought might be interested. For many months, everything was done on their own dime; to this day, the two essentially have been volunteering to turn their vision of the Academy into reality. With the help of dozens of volunteers and some donated office space, they are going to make it happen.