What is ACT-SO

ACT-SO is a year-long youth enrichment program that culminates in a local and national competition where students compete for scholarship awards, and prizes totaling over $300,000.

Often referred to as the “Olympics of the Mind”, ACT-SO centers around the dedication and commitment of community volunteers and business leaders; to serve as mentors and coaches to promote academic and artistic excellence among students of African American descent.

About New Jersey ACT-SO

ACT-SO Categories


Students who compete in the local and national ACT-SO competition can compete in up to three (3) categories within the Sciences, the Humanities, the Performing Arts, Visual Arts and Business…

Why Participate In ACT-SO

ACT-SO will provide you with the tools to help you increase your confidence, achieve your goals, and become a success.

We Need Volunteers

ACT-SO’s success is due largely to the dedication and commitment of the local ACT-SO program volunteers, community leaders and entrepreneurs to serve as mentors and coaches…

Rev. Sonya Redd


Rev. Sonya Redd is the initiator and architect of the NJ State ACT-SO Program.  Rev. Redd began the development of the State Program in late 1988 and 1989 and served as its chairperson through 1995. Because of the increasing demand of her ministerial responsibilities, she resigned as NJ ACT-SO Chairperson.  However; she remained connected to the program by serving as a judge in the area of Oratory and Dramatics during local competitions.  Also, in 1996 she began serving on the National ACT-SO Core Team and continues to service in that capacity.  She returned to serving as the NJ ACT-SO Chairperson in 2016.

Rev. Redd is a life member of the NAACP having joined the New Brunswick Area Branch of the NAACP in 1984 and currently serves on its Executive Committee and also as the Membership Chairperson.   She formerly served as the New Brunswick NAACP Branch President, the NJ NAACP State 3rd Vice President and many other positions within the organization.


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.

ABOUT New jersey ACT-SO


Often referred to as the “Olympics of the Mind,” ACT-SO centers around the dedication and commitment of volunteers & business leaders o serve as mentors and coaches o promote academic and artistic excellence among students of African American descent.

Mentors are needed in our local ACT-SO Units (Bergen C0., Camden Co., Gloucester Co., Montclair, Newark, New Brunswick Area, Oranges/Maplewood, Tri-City (Union Co. Area), Trenton & Salem.

If you would like to volunteer to mentor, please send an email identifying the category and local unit to: mentorintent@actsonewjersey.org


To develop excellence in our students requires that their projects and performances are critiqued by experts in their specific field or category.

ACT-SO Judges must be degreed or employed in the category they are judging, i.e., junior college or college professors, professional architects, engineers, actors, painters etc.  They can also judge relative categories i.e. drawing and painting.  Judges cannot be in contact with or be in relation to students in category they are judging.

The state wide competition takes place in one location during the month of April with students from all ACT-SO units within the state participating.

If you would like to volunteer to judge go to the top of the home page and click on “Competition Volunteers” then “Judges”


Our program has several partnerships that help to enhance the NJ ACT-SO Program.  Bristol Myers-Squibb and their BOLD Organization provides very important and strategic support. They providing S.T.E.M. judges, include our students in their Annual S.T.E.M Celebration and underwrites a portion of the program.



Prudential Grammy Museum -Partner with Programming designed to highlight the work of ACT-SO students and reward them for same.


Some ACT-SO gallery images


Registration for New Jersey ACT-SO is currently open. Please come out and support our future events.