NAACP Dane County ACT-SO students had a great weekend at the 44th National ACT-SO Competition and Awards July 14-17 in Atlantic City, NJ, highlighted by the “608 Scholars,” the gold medalists in the NAACP ACT-SO Delta Air Brought Home Inaugural Year Line Social Media Case Study Competition.
NAACP ACT-SO (Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics) is a year-long youth program informally named “Olympics of the Mind” that recognizes and awards young people who have demonstrated academic and cultural achievement. Teams compete in regional competitions across the country before advancing to national competition. This year’s national competition theme was “Bold and Brilliant”.
The “608 Scholars” competed in the USA against teams from all parts of the USA NAACP ACT-SO Delta Air Line Social Media Case Study Competition where they collaborated across disciplines to develop best-in-class social media strategies for Delta Air Lines.
“We won first place in the inaugural year of this event, that was really cool,” Frances Huntley-Cooper, Chair of the NAACP Dane County ACT-SO Committee, to Madison365. “We were against it [teams from] Atlanta, Philadelphia, Detroit… we dealt with a lot of big cities. That’s why it was so exciting to win.”
Including the “608 Scholars” representing the NAACP Dane County 36AB Branch Madison Country Day School’s Hunter Stephenson, who will attend Brown University in the fall, EJ Van de Grift, a senior at Verona Area High School, and Ancha Barry and Ramatoulie Barry, juniors at Madison Country Day School.
“In the end, the team won $8,000 for first place—that’s $2,000 per student,” says Huntley-Cooper. “Well that was very nice.”
In addition, Stephenson won a silver medal in the STEM Microbiology/Biology category.
Stephenson was also one of the 40 recipients of a Write Her Future grant supported by Lancôme, one of many funding opportunities available to black and colored students through the NAACP Inspire Initiatives. This scholarship is for Black and Colored students who identify as female and are pursuing a bachelor’s degree.
“I can’t thank the NAACP enough for working with Lancôme to provide graduate students with a $10,000 grant,” says Huntley-Cooper.
The NAACP’s national ACT-SO program has served communities across the United States for 45 years and has touched over 300,000 students. At the local level, the Dane County Branch of the NAACP has been part of the NAACP ACT-SO program for 13 years.
Founded by Vernon Jarrett in 1978, the NAACP’s Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological, and Scientific Olympics (ACT-SO) is a year-long achievement program designed to recruit high academic and cultural achievement among African-American high school students stimulate and encourage. This year’s national competition included 33 competitions in STEM, humanities, business and performing, visual and culinary arts, as well as two pilot competitions in sustainability and social media campaigns.
“There was so much positive energy and so much great talent at this event…it was amazing to be there,” says Huntley-Cooper. “The theme was ‘Bold & Brilliant,’ and these kids were definitely brave and brilliant, and I like to say beautiful, too.”
The 45th ACT-SO National Competition and Awards Ceremony is held July 27-30, 2023 in Boston. Huntley-Cooper says the ACT-SO program is a wonderful opportunity for local students in Grades 9-12 and those interested in the program can email her at ACTSODANE@gmail.com or ( call 608)571. 4351.