As President & CEO of the New York City ACT-SO Program, I welcome this opportunity to acknowledge those faithful volunteers, professionals, judges, parents, educators and sponsors who are the core of the program. None of the successes and achievements would have been possible without their continued support, week after week, and the boundless generosity of their time. It is only through commitment that challenges are met. The NYC ACT-SO program is committed to recognize our young people by working with them to develop their academic and artistic skills and talents, providing them with the opportunity to showcase them as they learn to participate in a competitive and technological world.
It is even more critical in today’s world environment that young African-American and Latino young people are provided with the resources and role models to guide and motivate them as they focus on achieving their goals.
Many of the benefits or advantages which the students enjoy from participating in the Program are less obvious and not as easily quantifiable in graphs or tables. However, our experience over the last three decades has demonstrated that the New York City ACT-SO Program is more than an academic Olympic-type competition. Many students who participate make real and lasting connections with adults in the Program who remain their friends and mentors for many years, even after they have graduated from college. Many of our students return as tutors, assistant coaches and volunteers.
The rigors of preparation culminating in the local and/or national competition assist our scholars in developing poise, confidence and an appreciation for the value of scholastic excellence; qualities necessary for interviews for college admission and for professional careers. As the funding for scholarships and financial aid from government and private sector continues to decrease, the awards which the winners receive both at the local and national levels is an important factor in putting together a financial package for a college education.
The philosophy of the ACT-SO program in New York City has thus evolved over three decades, from merely recognizing and exposing academic and artistic talent to more closely realizing Vernon Jarrett’s vision of an all-year enrichment program which will develop the skills and knowledge necessary to compete in an increasingly competitive world.
I continue to be confident that the ACT-SO can become one of the best youth programs in the city, if not in the country. The program will continue to strive to reach out to more schools, organizations, and businesses for increased student participation, financial support and volunteerism.
I commend and sincerely thank all of our supporters in the New York City community for their participation and dedication. Most of all, I congratulate all the ACT-SO students on their courage and achievements, and I urge you to challenge yourselves and continue to strive for excellence.