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Exploring Life & Business with Leroy Long III

Today we’d like to introduce you to Leroy Long III.

Hi Leroy, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
In 2019, my late father-in-law inspired me to start a business. So, I founded an education-based company called We Need More LLC. I try to serve the community with the following African-American proverb in mind: “Each one, teach one. Each one, reach one.” I also rely on the African proverb: “It takes a village to raise a child.”

I was born and raised in Dayton, OH – the birthplace of aviation, the cash register, Funk, and the NFL’s first game. Growing up, I was influenced by local culture involving STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), the arts, and sports. Math and science were always my favorite school subjects. I liked to draw and write poetry. I played sports such as baseball, basketball, bowling, and track.

My family members, K-12 teachers, coaches, and peers were very encouraging and supportive of my academic, artistic, and athletic pursuits. My family members rewarded me for getting straight A’s on my report card, bought me art equipment, and attended my sporting events. My parents were both first-generation college students. My mother is a hidden figure in computer science who can draw. My father is a minister and government worker who coached my baseball teams.

My Black elementary and middle school teachers touted my academic abilities, while putting me in spelling bees and speech contests — even though I was terrified of public speaking. I had a Black male middle school math teacher who made me believe I was one of his top math students of all-time. I had a Black male middle school science teacher tell the class how highly paid I would be if our grades were a paycheck and he displayed my artwork outside of his classroom — despite my embarrassment. I had a Black female middle school English teacher who taught me how to write and deliver a public speech for an annual Dr. MLK Jr. speech contest in which I won third place. I had a Black female middle school science teacher recruit me into a STEM summer program called – Wright STEPP (Wright State University’s Science, Technology, and Engineering Preparatory Program). The program gave me a tuition-based scholarship to Wright State.

I later earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Wright State and a Master’s of Science in Mechanical Engineering at The Ohio State University. I also earned a PhD in STEM (Engineering) Education at Ohio State. I graduated with three degrees, but by the grace of God, I finished school debt free.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Going from having an idea for a business to actually starting one was an initial challenge for me. Fortunately, I received some motivation from my late father-in-law. My father-in-law once told me how he previously owned a restaurant with his brothers. This was news to my wife who had never heard these details about her father or uncles. At the time, I had never started a business despite my early entrepreneurial interests as a kid, which involved making/selling mixed CD’s in high school and wanting to later start an automotive detail shop. When my father-in-law tragically passed away from cancer, in April of 2019, it motivated me to immediately pursue my entrepreneurial interests. I already had a high-paying and highly coveted career as a college professor, but I wanted to expand my reach and impact by starting an education-based company called We Need More LLC.

Developing an identity and strategy for my LLC have been challenging. I came up with the name for We Need More LLC because of a previous STEM campaign and set of commercials featuring celebrities LeBron James, Drew Brees, David Villa, and Adriana Lima. However, my company’s education-based focus is broader than STEM while also involving the arts, sports, entrepreneurship, and Black culture/history.

I still wonder if We Need More should remain an LLC or switch to a 501c3 non-profit organization. One reason I started We Need More LLC was because I first wanted to self-publish and sell a poetry book with a friend. I wanted to clearly show I did not publish the book during my day job as a college professor. Yet, I hoped my entrepreneurial efforts would inspire some students to create “side hustles” or businesses with their unique talents. To date, I’ve self-published two books, The Poetic Pursuit of Happyness (2020) and Poetic Justness (2019). I’m now working on a children’s book and an audio spoken word book.

Besides publishing books, I’ve also wanted to provide students with resources to pursue their dream careers. I’ve used profits from my book sales to partner with a non-profit and an athletic directors association to award book scholarships to college students. Fundraising has been a challenge, especially with limited book sales during COVID and my LLC’s inability to offer a tax deduction.

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about We Need More LLC?

We Need More LLC offers educational research and evaluation, consultation and training, book and grant writing, as well as community service and outreach. As the founder, I use my experiences in STEM, the arts, and sports to bring students the resources they need for their unique purpose and path. My approach involves sharing: 1) my testimony via public speaking & poetry, 2) my research via colorful & creative infographics, as well as 3) tips to graduate career-ready & debt-free. I self-publish books then use my proceeds, salary, and donations to offer college scholarships and community outreach.

My personal website has a resource page with helpful videos and weblinks for parents, students, K-12 teachers, college professors, coaches, etc. The resources cover scholarships, tuition costs, academic success strategies, the college search process, youth sports participation, professional organizations, and more. The resources are particularly tailored to women, men of color (Blacks, Hispanics, Indigenous), student-athletes, and students from under-resourced communities.

My overall motto is “Lead with love, follow up with justice!”

Alright, so before we go, can you talk to us a bit about how people can work with you, collaborate with you, or support you?

For public speaking requests and other requests, please contact us here: weneedmorellc@gmail.com

If you would like to donate to We Need More LLC (Note: We are not a non-profit), you can do so below using the following Cash App or PayPal links. Thank you for your support!

https://cash.app/$WeNeedMoreLLC

https://www.paypal.com/donate?token=s52OWn8cyPbGGi-2iXduRcFbjZBY81hH_FT25hxetvWnUqpca2mugRUzIoS7D_7kOkxMVx84c6K7-quP

To take my company (We Need More LLC) to the next level, I am looking for book illustrators and publishers along with connections to media producers (like Ava DuVernay and Tyler Perry) and innovative urban schools (like LeBron James’ I Promise School and Jalen Rose’s Leadership Academy).

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Devin Johnson
Dear World
National Society of Black Engineers
Central Florida Professionals Chapter
National Society of Black Engineers
University of Central Florida Student Chapter
Orange County Public Schools
Minority Achievement Office
CodeOrlando
Gordon Family Giving Foundation

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