The 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 high school students in Hamilton County, Tennessee and its surrounding counties.


Founded by Mr. Vernon Jarrett and established by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1977, ACT-SO was called, the “Olympics of the Mind.” ACT-SO participants demonstrate academic and artistic expertise, thereby gaining the same recognition often reserved for entertainers and athletes.

The Chattanooga ACT-SO program began in 1987 under the administrative guidance of the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Branch of the NAACP (Branch 5581). Since the inception of the program, over 150 Chattanooga high school students have participated in the local workshops and competitions.


A goal of the Chattanooga ACT-SO Program is to encourage earnest effort so students gain the confidence and skills they will need to thrive as adults. Our primary goal is to continue and expand the number of students we serve at the high school level while reaching out to eighth grade students to introduce them to the rewards of academic and artistic endeavors.

How Can I Participate With ACT-SO?


The Challenge

America’s competitiveness and economic stability in the 21st century depends upon improving the quality of education and employment potential for the broadest possible spectrum of this population. A vicious cycle of low scholastic expectations and achievement plagues underserved and minority youth throughout the nation and in this region. Chattanooga ACT-SO attempts to thwart this vicious cycle. ACT-SO is more than an academic program for high school students where only a select few display their abilities. Chattanooga ACT-SO workshops aim to:

  • strengthen high school students’ writing and public-speaking skills,
  • inspire the confidence students will need to succeed as adults, and
  • offer individualized mentorship and diverse enrichment activities.

During the workshops, which are held during the academic year, volunteer coaches work with students on projects and assignments designed to enhance the students’ knowledge and skills in the Sciences, Arts and Humanities.

Why Support ACT-SO

Chattanooga ACT-SO has made a difference by providing a positive environment for our youth. The impact is evident among the former participants in the form of their achievements, enthusiasm, increased confidence and vision for success. A review of past Chattanooga ACT-SO activities indicates that approximately 100 percent of all participants completed high school, and approximately 90 percent of all local medalists entered college while the others pursued vocational careers.

In order to continue achieving our goals, we need to obtain the financial support of all civic-minded individuals and corporations. Today’s investment in our high school students is an investment in the future, long-term success of Chattanooga’s corporate and small business communities.

The program culminates with a local competition in April/ May and awards ceremony which give the students an opportunity to showcase their projects and to be recognized for their achievements.