About the ACT-SO Achievement Program

The ACT-SO program is intended to be a learning experience, first and foremost.

ACT-SO is an acronym for Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics. ACT-SO, (a.k.a, the "Olympics of the Mind") is a nationwide program founded in 1978 by renowned author and Chicago journalist, Vernon Jarrett, and sponsored by the NAACP that encourages high academic and cultural achievement among African-American high school students. Local programs, hosted by NAACP units, deliver activities leading up to the local and national competitions.


DuPage County ACT-SO was founded in 1979 by the DuPage County NAACP.  The 7-month local program features leadership development sessions, 1-on-1 mentorship, and service activities. The DuPage County ACT-SO program culminates with an academic competition and Awards Banquet in March where students present projects developed under the guidance of mentors. The local gold medalists then compete against winners from other cities at the National ACT-SO finals held during the NAACP's Annual Convention in July.


ACT-SO Impact National Video

About DuPage County ACT-SO

The DuPage County ACT-SO Program provides a platform to develop and recognize the academic and artistic talents of African American high school students culminating in the National NAACP ACT-SO competition.



Our Purpose

To nurture the excellence of African American high school students to advance their academic and professional success.


What We Believe

African American students are supremely talented and deserve access to the highest quality resources to develop their innate gifts, interests and abilities.

The ACT-SO Culture

  • We are a community of caring volunteers invested in the success of African American youth.
  • We treat students as young professionals and encourage self-exploration, autonomy, independence and self-advocacy.
  • We challenge students to own their projects which helps them discover their leadership capabilities.
  • We treat parents as partners in the process of developing their students into future leaders. 


What Do We Do

  • Recruit students to explore their interests in the Arts, Humanities, STEM, and Business categories for participation in the ACT-SO competition.  
  • Connect students with like-minded peers, skilled mentors and a network of professionals and partnering organizations.  
  • Develop students by providing a forum to acquire new skills, knowledge and leadership abilities through focused programming and services.
  • Prepare current students and alumni for college and career success through enrichment sessions and linkage to development opportunities.


DuPage County ACT-SO is a program of the NAACP

All Donations are tax deductable via our 501 (c)(3) - Business Arts and STEM Excellence

DuPage County ACT-SO Timeline

Learn More About ACT-SO