D'Artagnan Scorza entered UCLA in 1998 as a graduate of Morningside High School in Inglewood, CA. His studies were interrupted immediately following the events of September Eleventh, when he decided to join the U.S. Navy and became an Iraq-War Veteran. In April of 2006, he returned to UCLA to resume his studies and became a McNair Undergraduate Research Scholar where he developed curriculum for culturally relevant for African-American male youth and worked to reduce recidivism, imprisonment and death rates in the community. He was appointed as a representative on the Chancellor's Enrollment Advisory Committee, served as a participant in the Alliance for Equal Opportunity in Education (AEOE) and the UCLA Task Force on African American Enrollment which helped to increase enrollment from 96 African-American students in 2006 to 213 African-American students in 2007.
D'Artagnan is a UCLA graduate with a B.A. in the Study of Religion and also has a B.S. in Liberal Studies with an emphasis on Business Management from National University. Currently a Ph.D. student in the Department of Education at UCLA, he established the Black Male Youth Academy (BMYA) at Morningside High School, a literacy program designed as a localized replicable model in order to provide education which supports positive identity development, increases academic achievement and expands opportunities for civic engagement.
D'Artagnan served a two-year term as a UC Regent from 2007 through 2009. As a member of the Board of Regents, University of California, he participated in the governance of the University. He was an outspoken advocate for equity and inclusion, affordability and access for future generations of students. His emphasis on clean energy and sustainable practices supported the University's policies on being climate friendly. He was also a strong supporter of academic preparation programs for grade levels P-16 and believes they help create a level playing field. He was a 2010 Education Pioneer Fellow and worked at the California Community Foundation (CCF) supporting their scholarships program area.
The Civic Engagement Program Director of the Social Justice Learning Institute, Mr. Steele is responsible for the community’s awareness of and participation in SJLI’s social justice programs. He trains youth and community members through SJLI's healthy eating, gardening and tree care workshops while providing policy and advocacy leadership articulating community priorities. Mr. Steele worked as an Engineer after graduating from Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland. After three years of working in his field at Northrop Grumman Corporation, Mr. Steele left the company looking for something more fulfilling and decided join SJLI's team. A major contributor and builder of the 100 Seeds of Change food system initiative, Mr. Steele has been working to advance urban agriculture, reduce diet-related diseases and improve the livelihood of his fellow community members since 2010.
As a proud high school graduate of Roland Park Country School in Baltimore, MD, Nicole Carter knew that her focus in life would be centered around helping people. In her matriculation at McDaniel College in Westminster, MD Ms. Carter started her path of this focus by majoring in Psychology. Her extracurricular activities included active work in community service in both Westminster and Baltimore as well as volunteer work at the Boys and Girls Club of America and YMCA of Westminster. During her time as an active participant of the Black Student Union, in 2005, she started her two-year mentorship in the Sankofa program, a mentoring program between upper and lower class men. Soon after, she was afforded the opportunity to move to Inglewood, CA in 2008 and soon learned about food deserts. Committed to advancing social justice, Nicole has set the goal of eliminating food deserts and increasing healthy lifestyles for residents of urban communities all across the country. She is excited to be a part of the SJLI team as the garden coordinator and is happy to help bring this goal to life.
BMYA/Urban Scholars Program Director - Daniel Castillo
Daniel P. Castillo was born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Los Angeles. As a young child he loved art, and as he matured he chose to follow a career path that would allow him to use his gifts as an artist. His passion for film led him to study at The Art Institute of California- Los Angeles, where he graduated with honors, achieving a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Video Production and Digital Filmmaking. As a student, he realized his talents as a cinematographer, editor, scriptwriter and overall filmmaker. Daniel's passion and talents have landed him great opportunities in the industry. He plans to continue to make films with meaning and hopes to use his gifts to inspire other urban youth and artists who seek to pursue their talents and dreams.