Dr. D’Artagnan Scorza is the Founder and Executive Director of the Social Justice Learning Institute (SJLI). As a child growing up in the Los Angeles suburb of Inglewood, Scorza was witness to the community hardship caused by a lack of resources and opportunity. Scorza, himself, experienced living in a home without economic security, a chronically ill sibling, and an absent father. College never seemed like a realistic opportunity for Scorza, rather his goal was to gain employment and support his family. Fortunately for Scorza, a series of school counselors intervened, encouraging him to make college a priority. Ultimately, he was able to attend the prestigious University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
The academic rigors of UCLA and the financial hardship of university life were almost insurmountable for the young Scorza, until a fateful trip to South Africa. While in South Africa, Scorza came to understand that despite the challenges of his home community, personal agency was possible. Inspired by his personal awakening, Scorza began to contemplate the possibility of a culturally relevant curriculum for African-American male youth. He suspected that such an academic program could reduce recidivism, imprisonment, and death rates in his community.
While pursuing his own academic career, Scorza established the Black Male Youth Academy (BMYA) at Morningside High School, which is designed as a literacy program providing youth with positive identity development and civic engagement opportunities. As a result of participating in BMYA, students have increased academic achievement. BMYA remains an active and successful program, and it has laid the groundwork for the development of all Social Justice Learning Institute efforts.
Scorza is a U.S. Navy Iraq-War Veteran. He has obtained a Ph.D. in Education from University of California, Los Angeles along with a B.S. in Religion. He also has B.S. in Liberal Studies, with an emphasis on Business Management, from National University. Scorza is a former McNair Undergraduate Research Scholar, and a UC Regent from 2007 to 2009. He was a 2010 Education Pioneer Fellow and is currently a 2013-2014 BALLE Fellow.