ACT-SO: Developing and Celebrating the Academic Talents of African-American High School Students

Welcome to the informational page for the San Diego Branch of the NAACP’s ACT-SO competition.  We’re glad you’re here, whether you are an African-American High School student looking to enter, or a member of the San Diego community interested in mentoring, judging, recruiting, or assisting!

What is ACT-SO?

The NAACP’s Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics (ACT-SO) is a yearlong achievement program designed to recruit, stimulate, and encourage high academic and cultural achievement among African-American high school students.

ACT-SO includes 32 competitions in STEM, humanities, business, and performing, visual and culinary arts. Almost 300,000 young people have participated from the program since its inception.  (For a very brief description of each category, please see our Categories page.)

For forty years the mission of ACT-SO has been to prepare, recognize and reward youth of African descent who exemplify scholastic and artistic excellence.

Yeah, but SPECIFICALLY What is ACT-SO?

Students will, over the course of the school year, prepare a scientific paper, a play, an essay or other academic work (for a full listing, see our Categories page.)  The NAACP will provide mentorship and assistance all along the way.  At the end of the school year (specifically, April 4th, 2020) there will be a local showcase of student work, with expert judges.  Work that achieves the highest standard will get the student a spot in the national ACT-SO competition in Boston, in July 2020.  The NAACP San Diego Branch will cover travel expenses.

The Goals of ACT-SO are:

  • To mobilize the adult community for the promotion of academic and artistic excellence.
  • To recognize creative talent and academic achievement.
  • To provide and assist students with the necessary skills to establish goals and acquire the confidence and training to make a successful contribution to society.

Important Dates:

April 4th, 2020: San Diego ACT-SO Showcase
July 23-26, 2020: National ACT-SO Competition (Boston, MA)

If you are an African-American high school student looking to polish and show off your skills to earn scholarship money and the potential to compete nationally, sign up today!

Are you interested in seeing African-American youth succeed?  Share what you know.  Maybe you can mentor a student in STEM or Dance.  Maybe you can help them develop business savvy.  Maybe you have life wisdom to share.  We need YOU to help our young people.  Sign up today!

Don’t have time to participate?  You can still help with your donation!

The Committee

Vatrice George
- ACT-SO Chair -

Vatrice is a Native San Diegan who attended college in NYC receiving her B.A. in English. After living in the NY/NJ area for 22 years, she moved back to California ...

Kamaria Allen
- ACT-SO Committee Member -

Kamaria has degrees in English and Psychology, has extensive administrative experience and currently works as a counselor to persons with developmental disabilities, and also volunteers with children and adults. She ...

Carol Spong
- Visual Artist -

Carol Wiggins
- Member at Large -

I was born in Jamaica New York. Graduated Far Rockaway High. I moved to San Diego with my Family. Worked in retail. Finally fulfilled my dream of working in the ...


- Mentor - Entrepreneurship, Music -

Besides being Kamaria's husband and father of two, Bobby grew up inside his family's music business, and ran his own restaurant. While he sold the restaurant and sadly won't be ...

- Mentor - Essay, Poetry, Playwriting and Oratory -

Kamaria has degrees in English and Psychology, has extensive administrative experience and currently works as a counselor to persons with developmental disabilities, and also volunteers with children and adults. She ...

Angela Ledyard
- Photography -

Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Angela first became interested about photography after watching her grandparents capturing photos. She would then, ask her grandfather to show her how to use ...


Tomás Gayton
- Poetry -

Tomás Gayton is a retired Civil Rights attorney and poet. His latest volume is "Jazz Heaven," a volume of Jazz Poetry.

Darwin Fishman
- Essay, Poetry -

Vera Sanchez
- Poetry, Essay, Painting -

  Vera Sanchez is an adjunct professor of English at Grossmont College, and a Social Work Counselor for the San Diego Regional Center.

Ryn Corbeil
- Poetry, STEM: Computer Science -

Ryn Corbeil is making the jump from an Engineering career to Poetry. He likes to refer to this as "going over to the light side."

Vanessa Lee
- Photography -

As a wellness coach, fitness instructor, model; Vanessa A. Lee incorporates her background in therapeutic recreation as a vehicle to motivate others on their wellness journey.  In March 2017, Vanessa ...

Debashis Sahoo
- Computer Science, Mathematics -

Assistant Professor Department of Pediatrics Department of Computer Science and Engineering University of California San Diego Dr Sahoo is a groundbreaking researcher in the overlap of genetics, medicine, and computation.

Buki Domingos
- Music -

Buki Domingos is a very versatile singer/songwriter, instrumentalist, and entertainer with over two decades of stage experience. Buki has an Album “To God in Prayer” and a Single “A Better ...

Anya Gallaccio
- Visual Arts -

Anya Gallaccio emerged in the late '80s as part of the group of young British artists from Goldsmiths College in London. Since her first appearance in the historic 1988 Freeze ...

DeShaun Smith
- Music -

Michael Trigilio
- Visual Arts -

Michael Trigilio is a multimedia artist living in San Diego. Born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, he received his B.A. in Humanities from the University of Texas at San ...

Paul Seckendorf
- Computer Science -

Paul, beside being a noted South Seas Rescue Surfer, has worked as an Engineer for Qualcomm Incorporated for many years.

Scott Ludwin
- Computer Science, Mathematics -

Scott worked for many years at Qualcomm as an expert in software for embedded systems.

Tatiana Ortiz-Rubio
- Visual Arts -

M.F.A., New York Academy of Art, New York. (Cum Laude) B.A. University of San Diego, Art History and Visual Arts (Summa Cum Laude) Tatiana Ortiz-Rubio is an Adjunct Faculty, who ...

Michael Alston
- Mathematics -

“Dr. Mike” is an electrical engineer at Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. specializing in the physical layout design of Very Large Scale Integrated (VLSI) circuits.  He earned Electrical Engineering degrees at Carnegie ...

Our Partners

Our sponsors dig in and help us, sharing both the work and the cost of the ACT-SO program. We are so grateful to them for helping give opportunity to our African-American high school students!  If you are interested in partnering with us, please send email to [email protected].

Our Sponsors

We are very grateful to our sponsors for helping give opportunity to our African-American high school students through their generous contributions!  If you are interested in sponsoring us, please send email to [email protected].

ACT-SO related events:

Nothing from Wed, Nov 25, 2020 to Thu, Feb 25, 2021.

Keep in Touch!

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