ACT-SO is an acronym for Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics. ACT-SO is a yearlong enrichment program designed to stimulate, improve and enhance academic and cultural achievement among African-American high school students.

The ACT-SO program is supported by dedicated and committed community volunteers who are professionals from fields in the sciences, humanities, performing arts, visual arts and business. These volunteers serve as mentors and coaches and promote academic and artistic excellence among African-American students. Many professionals work weekly on a one-to-one basis with competitors in the various categories. 

ACT-SO competitions

ACT-SO conducts an annual academic competition for students in grades nine (9) through twelve (12) in the NAACP branches throughout the country. Participating branches of the NAACP hold local competitions in six categories. The local Gold Medal winners then compete with winners from other cities at the national ACT-SO finals during the NAACP annual convention.


Winners of the twenty-five categories in the national competition receive scholarships for:

  • $2,000 and a Gold Medal for First Place
  • $1,500 and a Silver Medal for Second Place
  • $1,000 and a Bronze Medal for Third Place.

In addition, various corporations make additional scholarship awards to winners. Locally, hundreds of business and individual patrons provide the awards, incentives and funding to sustain the local competition. 

Competition categories

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What is the goal of ACT-SO?

The goal of ACT-SO is to encourage and reward the achievement of academic excellence in the Sciences, Arts, and Humanities through a variety of formats, rewards and incentives. 

Society makes demands upon our youth both academically and financially. The ACT-SO program provides an excellent motivational support base and catalyst for career advancement. This program helps to open doors to greater success, rewarding hard work, competence and creative genius. Deserving minority students are given the opportunity to compete in the complex and often inequitable global job market.

History of ACT-SO

In 1977, award-winning journalist and NAACP activist Vernon Jarret conceived of the idea of a national youth competition through the auspices of NAACP. Today, over 50,000 minority high school students participate locally in over 500 communities throughout the country. Approximately 2000 are finalists in the national competition, comprising the continuing ACT-SO legacy of academic excellence and cultural achievement.

Rooted in the firm conviction that blacks can succeed in the classroom at the superior levels of achievement constantly displayed by blacks in the athletic arenas of this nation, the ACT-SO program also strives to create the same respect and global awareness for black scholastic and cultural achievement that is awarded athletics in the world of sports.


Enrollment form


NAACP website

NAACP Garland website

Learn more about ACT-SO

For additional information and questions, contact:

Dr. Joyce E. Kyle Miller, Ph.D.
Garland ACT-SO Chairperson

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