Long Island native Dan Lloyd is a name synonymous with minority millennials, but few people know the story behind the man who founded the organization. In a recent interview, Lloyd opened up about his upbringing, the challenges he faced, and how his past has shaped his present and future.
Growing up on Long Island in a family deeply rooted in the nonprofit sector, Lloyd’s parents were the co-founders of Long Island Teen Challenge and Freedom Chapel. Dan Lloyd’s father was a drug dealer in the late 70s and early 80s, but after serving time in prison, he turned his life around and dedicated himself to helping others.
Lloyd was adopted by his aunt, and uncle through marriage, a mixed-race couple who raised him in a diverse household on the border of Wyandanch and Wheatley Heights. Navigating the complexities of his identity and trying to find his place in the world was a challenge for Lloyd, but it ultimately shaped the person he is today.
Having the privilege to attend private school and enjoy a stable family life, Lloyd saw many of his friends struggle without the same opportunities. This fueled his passion for giving back to his community and providing access to the resources he was fortunate to have.
With his background in the nonprofit sector and a heart for his community, Lloyd founded Minority Millennials, an organization dedicated to helping minority millennials on Long Island achieve success in various aspects of life. Through his work, Lloyd has built a team around him and garnered respect from those in the community.
Understanding Dan Lloyd’s story is essential for understanding the purpose and drive behind Minority Millennials. As a leader and advocate for his community and the nation, Lloyd is a shining example of how one’s past can shape their future and create a legacy of giving back.
For Dan, growing up on the Wyandanch/Wheatley Heights border and being a mixed-race kid brought up an identity crisis at an early age. Who was he – a black kid from Wyandanch or a spoiled white boy from Wheatley Heights? Like most young people in any situation, Dan struggled to find his place in the world.
“I lived in the borderline of that. I was in the winning school district, but on the border, I was not. So, you deal with a lot of identity issues. I think that’s something that all of us as humans face. So, mine was, you know, who am I? Am I black, and am I white? How do I act? How do I feel accepted and acknowledged in my community? I would go to the youth center in Wyandanch, and when you grow up in that type of neighborhood, you feel like you must do certain things or be a certain way to really feel accepted, and nine times out of ten, it could get you into trouble,” said Dan.
Dan’s story is a private one. Not many individuals knew the things that Dan had gone through back when he was younger. Dan, who played basketball at Our Savior, was a 5’11” guard who was often teased by teammates because of his Long Island roots and perceived softness. But little did they know, Dan’s upbringing was anything but easy. Lloyd would express this when talking about his time at Our Savior by saying, “We had international players. We also had players from the city.
So, in the lunchroom, you literally have people from Harlem saying, ‘You’re from Long Island; you soft,’ and then Colombian and French players talking about how Long Island, New York, is soft, and I’m this 5’11” mixed kid who doesn’t even know who he is. But I felt like I came from a lot of pain because I did. But no one knew that. So, it’s like you’re just the soft, light-skinned kid from Long Island.”
The Minority Millennials founder’s racial conflicts weren’t just internal; they were external as well. Lloyd grew up on Long Island, one of the most segregated places in the world. Sometimes the racial conflict was right in front of his face, presented in the form of family. Often as a youth, Dan would be told by white family members to be successful, he couldn’t act too black.
“I remember one time my grandfather was watching something, and he goes, ‘Why don’t we lock up all these monkeys?’ I had to remind him I was black, but they didn’t recognize that. They used to call me Tiger Woods, like I was Asian or something. They weren’t comfortable with the fact that I am black,” says Lloyd.
The unreal dichotomy of Dan Lloyd’s life at such a young and crucial age could be overwhelming for adults. Going from a space that wouldn’t fully accept him for who he is to his father’s side, where he had five strong, older black sisters who helped instill in Dan a sense of self-worth and pride that he desperately needed.
When I asked if Dan felt any survivor’s remorse for the people, he grew up around, those who didn’t have the same opportunities as him, Dan replied “no.” However, something that does stick with him is an opportunity his sisters didn’t get.
During the early stages of Dan’s life, he often found himself in and out of shelters with his biological sisters. Dan, who was adopted at 7, has two younger sisters who didn’t have the privilege of being adopted. They went through the foster care system their entire lives and endured a certain type of pain and struggle that Dan can’t relate to.
Blessed and highly favored, Dan understands the magnitude of the opportunity he was presented and how it changed his life. He works every day to fulfill the destiny for which God placed him in position. “My survivor’s remorse is that I always wanted to be in a place to financially take care of them, which I’m not yet, and I’m getting older. So, it’s frustrating because I want to be able to be ‘bossed up’ to the point where they don’t have to deal with certain things anymore,” says Dan.
Growing up, Dan used to think he was staying in hotels, but he and his sisters were actually going in and out of shelters when his biological mom wasn’t randomly picking them up in between stays.
Dan has always been a survivor, which is why he feels obligated to live in his highest purpose and give back to those who didn’t receive the same blessings he did. Through God and discipline, Dan plans on righting some of the wrongs from his family’s past.
The Luck of Dan!
God wasn’t just looking after Dan when he was adopted; He was looking out for Dan in several situations in his life. On one occasion, Dan was part of one of the best high school basketball teams in the country. After a basketball game, the team split up into two shuttles, with the international players on the team driving one van, and the American players driving in the other van. During this trip, Dan was supposed to ride in the international van but ended up sticking with the American players.
That decision would prove to be a life-changing one. The international bus experienced a deadly crash, leaving one player dead and several others with lifelong injuries. “It looked like Saving Private Ryan at the beginning of the movie. I was supposed to be on that bus,” says a humbled Dan Lloyd.
Dan’s life experiences have taught him the importance of resilience and making the most of the opportunities he has been given. As the founder of Minority Millennials, Dan uses his story to inspire and empower others, reminding them that even in the face of adversity, it’s possible to overcome challenges and make a difference in the world. By working tirelessly to create a more inclusive and diverse society, Dan Lloyd serves as a beacon of hope and an example of the power of determination and purpose.
Hard Rock Records
As a Rutgers Newark alumni, Dan would find solace in New Jersey occasionally. He found himself fitting in more than he did on Long Island and not having to face the same racially charged circumstances. Loving New Jersey and not wanting to leave, Dan would link up with some old buddies and create Hard Rock Records, an extension of a street team there that had some very powerful moments. Within six months of the record label’s existence, Dan and the team had a local hit record called “Hit It,” based on Jersey club music and Baltimore Bounce.
The now Minority Millennials founder spent five years helping run this record label, but he and the team could never quite take it to the next level. He faced the reality that he didn’t really have a tangible business, and God revealed a more secure path along with some of the core beliefs he was raised with.
During this time in Dan’s life, he openly admits he wasn’t the best person, losing his relationship with God and living more in his ego than he would have liked. “Again, I was egotistical, and so I was believing the delusions of what I was creating. I ended up having bad relationships with the artists I was working with and didn’t really have a tangible business. So, I ended up moving back home at 30 with my parents in 2016.”
Dan was now at a crossroads; he had to reinvent himself to become someone who could make a meaningful impact in his community and fulfill his true destiny. Ultimately Lloyd, would look back on his time, jumping into the music industry as a mistake, “I never thought about being an entrepreneur. The first time I ever thought about being an entrepreneur was with music. I made a big mistake. I had a great job. I quit my job to do music. I was working for Newark Housing Authority; it was well-paying job. I jumped right into the music industry without any real tangible knowledge of the industry in any way looking back, so it was tough. I do not recommend jumping into entrepreneurship unless you understand your product.”
The Reinvention of Dan Llyod
Upon his return home to Long Island, Dan knew it was time to reinvent himself. Knowing his time in the music industry was over, Dan looked back to the roots of his family. Dan’s mother and father had a nonprofit themselves. “I have nine aunts and uncles who were all heroin addicts from Rockville Center. It wasn’t until my mother got saved and entered a drug program called Teen Challenge that things turned around. This led to my father and my uncle coming back to Long Island and creating Long Island Teen Challenge. They had a passion for helping people get off drugs from that point on.”
Dan started from scratch – getting his feet wet by working with his parents’ nonprofit and getting a job with the Town of Babylon, working with the youth bureau. From there, he started working with the Babylon RTA while simultaneously building Minority Millennials, which would eventually become his full-time endeavor. This time, Dan would fully learn his industry before stepping out on his own.
Minority Millennials was created from a basketball tournament that drew the attention of many local politicians and officials, prompting Dan to ask himself, “How does one bridge the gap between policy and culture?” Understanding that there was a space not being occupied, especially by people who looked like him, Dan got to work.
Dan and his trusted partners came up with the name Minority Millennials, a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with a mission to help young people of color access jobs, build wealth, and become civically engaged. Their three-tiered ecosystem focuses on civic education, workforce development, and economic development. Through their programming, they aim to help young people of color understand the political infrastructure and how to leverage it for community improvement and personal growth.
Over the next six years, Dan took Long Island by storm, creating conversations and curating a community that looks like it will stand the test of time. He tapped into the voices of the people, unlike many of his counterparts could.
With Minority Millennials, Dan and his team have made significant strides in empowering young people of color to access job opportunities, build wealth, and become engaged in civic life.
Through their various programs and initiatives, they’ve been able to bridge the gap between policy and culture, creating lasting change in their community and beyond.
Today, Dan’s journey continues as he leads Minority Millennials in its mission to create a more inclusive and equitable society for young people of color. His story of overcoming racial identity struggles and finding his purpose serves as an inspiration to many, proving that with determination, passion, and a clear vision, it’s possible to make a real impact in the world.
As Minority Millennials continues to grow and evolve, the organization remains dedicated to its core values and goals, striving to empower and uplift the next generation of leaders who will shape the future of their communities. Through education, mentorship, and support, Dan and his team are committed to making a lasting difference, helping young people of color overcome barriers and realize their full potential.
What’s next for Minority millennials and Dan Lloyd?
As Dan continues to grow as a husband and father of two, Minority Millennials continues to evolve as well. With their upcoming “We Are the Future Summit” on April 27, 2023, Dan has once again brought Long Island to the national forefront. This event brings together over 30 elected officials, influencers, decision-makers, and an emerging wave of diverse leaders from across the state of New York for a one-day live summit held at the David S. Mack Complex at Hofstra University. The summit will host a regional career fair, vendors, and intergenerational networking opportunities, all designed to equip, connect, and inspire the next generation of New Yorkers.
We at this is Long Island media look forward to the continued evolution of Minority Millennials and Dan Lloyd.
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