buildOn for the next generation

Ball State alumnus Davonte Longmire is working to build schools for future

Davonte Longmire poses for a photo in Livwezi, Malawi. Davonte Longmire, Photo Provided
Davonte Longmire poses for a photo in Livwezi, Malawi. Davonte Longmire, Photo Provided

Digging up dirt, building a foundation and helping the local community are just a few things buildOn does, it is also a few things a Ball State Alumnus does as well. 

Ball State Alumnus Davonte Longmire is a digital marketing manager for buildOn, some of his duties are to expand their social media presence and support different elections and companies who support buildOn. 

“buildOn's mission is to break the cycle of poverty, illiteracy and low expectations through service and education,” Brandon Worth, buildOn Vice President of Marketing said via email. “We mobilize U.S. students to transform our communities through service and change the world by building schools in developing countries.”

Growing up in Chicago, Longmire stated he was subject to senseless violence. During this time, Longmire's friend, Gregory Means, recommended he get involved in community service with the group “Building with Books,” later to be named buildOn. 

“The first project we did was a mural project; it ignited my passion, I really liked the people and the group I was with. I had a strong sense of commitment and turned that into a passion,” Longmire said. “I felt like buildOn really gave me my voice back through community service. Here I had this cruel thing that happened to me, and essentially, I was able to overcome it through community service.”

Worth said buildOn has completed construction on 2,171 schools since 1999 in eight developing nations.

“We break ground at a new school every two weeks, and every week we complete a school,” Worth said. “What buildOn is doing is important because we must each take responsibility for the change we wish to see in the world.”

Trek is what buildOn does when traveling to build schools. Trek works alongside local community members to build a school in a community in need. Trek builds schools in countries where the youth are at-risk of not completing school. They build schools in Burkina Faso, Guatemala, Hati, Malawi, Mali, Nepal, Nicaragua and Senegal. 

buildOn also has programs through service learning programs and helping under-resourced schools in America. They focus their programs in six cities: Boston, Bridgeport CT, Bronx, Chicago, Detroit and Oakland. 

Longmire first traveled out of the country with buildOn Trek in 2009. He traveled to Chitunda, Malawi, to build a school. 

“I think every high school student wants to go out and travel and explore,” Longmire said. “I think I was much more focused on things socially, and the social aspect like making friends, fitting in, getting along with people in the community as well as doing community service.”

Longmire studied at Ball State from 2016-2018, where he got his masters in public relations with a business concentration from the then called Department of Journalism. He was also a graduate assistant for the department as well. 

“All the professors are honestly so great, my professor I worked with directly, Kim Green, was great. The Department Chair, Johnny Sparks, he was so down to earth and really solid,” Longmire said. “He has a great understanding about people in general and where the department is going. Another professor was YoungAh, she was amazing as well. There are just so many amazing people you meet there.” 

YoungAh Lee, associate professor in journalism, knew Longmire during his time here. 

“He was one of my advisors when he was a masters student. He is very friendly, easy to talk to and kind-hearted,” Lee said. “He was very sharp. He took courses from me, and he was [a teacher’s assistant] mainly working with our workshop.”

Before his second overseas Trek with buildOn, it was  more of a last minute choice. In his blog, Longmire talked about his advisor reaching out to him Aug. 9, 2022 to see if he could travel Aug. 20. 

A group poses for a photo during the Welcoming Ceremony for United for Malawi Group with Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Madalitso Kazombo, in Livwezi Malawi. Davonte Longmire, Photo Provided

Being cautious of COVID-19, Longmire said yes for his second trip on short notice. 

“The second trip that I made, I actually met an amazing student, his name was Moses Ngozo,” Longmire said. “He was just a really educated and passionate student. Meeting with that student I was really able to connect with him and his story right away. I feel like there was a sense of relatability because essentially here is a kid who has been through a similar struggle, and now he has different educational goals and how he wants to achieve that. Meeting with him was really amazing.”

Longmire was also able to connect with not only the students the school is for, but also connected with local teachers. 

“I had opportunities to meet with one of the teachers in the community, and she turned out to be my teacher as well,” Longmire said. “The language they speak there is Tumboka, and just learning that language she was able to tell me, ‘No you don't say it like that, you say it this way.’”

In his blog, “Mwadzuka Bwanji! Greetings from Malawi,” Longmire goes into depth over the differences in community in how people work in Malawi compared to the United States. He talks about how the United States is very individualistic, whereas overseas it is more of a community effort. 

“I feel like working in the international setting is just such a different experience, working through language barriers and all the barriers that exist between cultures in general,” Longmire said. “Everybody being there working side by side for one goal is something that I can't necessarily put into words. Everyone there is really committed to the cause that we are going to have a bigger impact on the next generation.”

Longmire said his responsibilities with buildOn are comparable to the responsibilities he had at Ball State University. He also talked about expanding to TikTok and other social media websites and apps in the future, as well to build the growth and recognition for buildOn. 

“Working along with our different stakeholder groups and basically telling their stories through a digital platform,” Longmire said. “What we are learning is that the messaging and stories are not changing, it is just the communication platforms that we use to express these stories that are changing.” 

Longmire referred to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s quote, “You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love,” as being one of the quotes he relates to for community service. 

“I want other people to know that anybody can serve in any capacity,” Longmire said. “It just takes the courage to do so and the willingness to put yourself out there.”

Contact Elijah Poe with comments at or on Twitter @ElijahPoe4.


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