NAACP ACT-SO Participants Celebrate 30th Anniversary at Disney World

More than 260,000 young people have benefited from initiative's development & inspiration since its inception

Youth achievement and the allure of the “magic kingdom” combine this summer as the NAACP celebrates the 30th anniversary of ACT-SO at Walt Disney World Resorts in Orlando, Fla.    

ACT-SO—the Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics--is the NAACP’s pioneering youth enrichment program designed to recruit, stimulate, improve and encourage high academic and cultural achievement among African American high school students.

Starting July 30, students compete in 26 ACT-SO categories including business, sciences, humanities, performing and visual arts over the course of the five-day event. The majority of the visual arts, science and performance arts competitions are open to the public. 

National winners of gold, silver and bronze medals in the 2008 ACT-SO competitions will be announced Aug. 3 in ceremonies at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort and Convention Center. 

“The 30th anniversary theme of ACT-SO is ‘The Fabric of the Future’,” said ACT-SO National Director Anana Kambon. “This year’s event acts as a springboard for the continuing growth of ACT-SO for 2008 and beyond. As the NAACP moves toward its centennial, we view ACT-SO as a key community-based initiative that invests in, develops and inspires young people to flourish. The talent and commitment displayed truly demonstrates our motto that ‘Today’s Youth are Tomorrow’s Legends.”

Special ACT-SO workshops and panel discussions facilitated by prominent ACT-SO alumni, national corporations and NAACP Youth & College Division leaders will be featured during this year’s contests, including a college fair, master’s classes in drama and vocal classical performance and a seminar focusing on the business side of the music industry. A behind-the-scenes tour for ACT-SO participants on the science that makes Disney a worldwide attraction will also be held. On Aug. 2, ACT-SO participants will lead the Magic Kingdom Parade as another major highlight marking the program’s anniversary.

"We are excited to be hosting this year's competition here at Walt Disney World Resort,” said Bob Billingslea, Vice President-Corporate Urban Affairs and Development, The Walt Disney Company.  “The NAACP ACT-SO program has dedicated three decades to inspiring achievement, developing skills and fulfilling dreams. We can't think of a more suitable place to bring these young achievers together, particularly during Disney Parks Year of a Million Dreams celebration."

Founded in 1978 by renowned author and journalist Vernon Jarrett, ACT-SO provides a forum through which African American youth demonstrate academic, artistic and scientific prowess and expertise, often gaining recognition reserved for entertainers and athletes.

ACT-SO programs span most of a year beginning in the fall, followed by planning and coaching of participants through winter months, culminating in nearly 200 local competitions that run through April. The ACT-SO program is based on the dedication and commitment of more than 100 community volunteers and business leaders that serve as mentors and coaches.

In its 30 year history an estimated 261,000 young people have participated in ACT-SO events. More than 700 national gold medalists have come from 28 states. Over that time more than $354,000 in national competition prizes—bonds, monetary awards, laptop computers, scholarships--have been granted.   

ACT-SO national winners receive financial awards from major corporations, college internships and apprenticeships. Corporate sponsors include: McDonald’s Corporation, State Farm, the Maryland Institute College of Art, United Parcel Service, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Sodexho, Wal-Mart, Northern Illinois University, Shell Oil, Coca Cola, the US Navy, Berkeley College of Music, The Walt Disney Company, Toyota Motor Sales, Microsoft, Lockheed Martin, Dow, Northrop Grumman, Kodak, Hyatt, Nestle, NASA and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.     

ACT-SO alumni occupy a wide array of careers including executive positions with corporations like Lockheed Martin and Citigroup—one even serves a vocal coach for FOX television’s “American Idol.” Famed ACT-SO alumni include musician Kanye West, actress Jada Pinkett-Smith, filmmaker John Singleton and comedian Anthony Anderson.

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.

< View All Press Releases