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