Arc of the United States

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The Arc of the United States is an organization serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The organization was founded in the 1950s by parents of people with developmental disabilities.[1] Since then, the organization has established state chapters in 39 states, and 730 local chapters in states across the country.[2] The Arc of the United States is based in Washington, D.C.


The organization advocates for disabled people and helps them with issues like finding jobs, and helping employers adapt to the needs of disabled people.[3]

According to financial statements submitted to the IRS, the organization's 2019 income was $9.8 million. Its end of year assets were reported to be $13.4 million.[4] Major sources of income are charitable donations; dues for membership in local and state chapters; and government grants, contracts, and fees.[5]

The Arc has condemned the use of aversives to modify behavior in people with disabilities.[6]


President John F. Kennedy addressing the NARC in 1963.

The first organization of families was the Children's Benevolent League, incorporated in 1936 in the state of Washington.[7] The San Francisco chapter was founded in 1951.[8][9][10]

President Richard Nixon meeting with the 1972 poster child of the NARC.

The organization was called the National Association for Retarded Children from 1953 to 1973 and then was the National Association for Retarded Citizens from 1973 to 1981, the Association for Retarded Citizens of the United States from 1981 to 1992, and it assumed its present name in 1992, as part of expanding its function and reacting to the euphemism treadmill.[11][12]

In the summer of 2008, the Arc strongly criticized the movie Tropic Thunder, in which Ben Stiller portrays an actor whose roles include "Simple Jack", a man with an intellectual disability. The Arc called the portrayal "offensive" and also objected to the use of the words "retard", "moron", and "imbecile" throughout the movie. The Arc was among a group of disability organizations, including the Special Olympics and the National Down Syndrome Congress which called for a boycott of the film.[13] Spokespeople for Tropic Thunder, along with Ben Stiller, argued that critics like the Arc did not understand that the movie was intended to make fun of actors and the movie industry, not individuals with disabilities, describing the movie as "an R-rated comedy that satirizes Hollywood and its excesses and makes it point by featuring inappropriate and over-the-top characters in ridiculous situations."[13] However, the Arc continued to criticize the film as containing hate speech, promoting offensive stereotypes of people with intellectual disabilities, and being offensive to people with disabilities and their families. The Arc of the United States called for all of its chapters across the nation to picket and protest against the film, launched educational campaigns, and wrote open letters to Ben Stiller and the film's creators explaining their criticisms and calling for Stiller to meet with disability advocates to engage in "honest and open dialogue about the offense this film perpetrates."[14]

In May 2021, the Massachusetts Independent State auditor released findings that accused the management and board of directors of the Berkshire County Arc of misappropriating $777,844 in state funds meant for developmentally disabled persons.[15] An article in the Berkshire Eagle interviewing the new CEO Maryann Hyatt cited her saying: "The end result was that there was no finding of wrongdoing or financial misappropriation of funds. But the audit did make us aware of the need to review some of our internal policies and procedures. The agency has experienced growth over the past few years and the audit made us aware that some policies needed to be tweaked in the light of growth. It was actually hepful to have a third-party review. We have made the necessary changes and we believe strongly that the agency has the proper policies and procedures in place for the present and the future."[16]


  1. ^ "History". The Arc of the United States. 2011.
  2. ^ "Who We Are". The Arc of the United States. 2011.
  3. ^ "Willing and ready to work". San Francisco Chronicle. Hearst Communications. 12 May 2005. Archived from the original on 27 April 2006. Retrieved 18 February 2009.
  4. ^ ProPublica, Mike Tigas, Sisi Wei, Ken Schwencke, Brandon Roberts, Alec Glassford (9 May 2013). "THE ARC OF THE UNITED STATES - Form Form 990 for period ending Dec 2019 - Nonprofit Explorer". ProPublica. Retrieved 2021-05-19.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  5. ^ "IRS Form 990: Report of Organization Exempt from Income Tax". The Arc of the United States. Archived from the original on 2008-11-26.
  6. ^ "3 Nov 1985, 3 - Casper Star-Tribune at". Retrieved 2020-08-12.
  7. ^ Jones, Larry (2010). Doing Disability Justice. ISBN 978-0-557-55238-2.
  8. ^ Crawford, Sabrina (2006). Newcomer's Handbook for Moving to And Living in the San Francisco Bay Area: Including San Jose, Oakland, Berkeley, And Palo Alto. New York: First Book. p. 274. ISBN 0-912301-63-5. Arc of San Francisco.
  9. ^ "Affordable Housing Coalitions and Agencies". California Department of Developmental Services. California Health and Human Services Agency. 2007-11-01. Archived from the original on 2009-04-11.
  10. ^ Smith, Matt (2007-03-13). "A Walk in the Park". SF Weekly. Village Voice Media. Archived from the original on 2011-06-10. Retrieved 18 February 2009.
  11. ^ "History of The Arc". The Arc. Retrieved 20 August 2019.
  12. ^ "The Arc's Name Changes Throughout Its History". 2011.
  13. ^ a b Cieply, Michael (August 11, 2008). "Groups Call for Boycott of 'Tropic Thunder' Film". The New York Times.
  14. ^ "Disability Rights Group Calls on Ben Stiller to Meet with People with Disabilities in DC, NY or LA about 'Tropic Thunder'". Fox Business News. August 15, 2008.
  15. ^ "Audit finds Berkshire agency which serves the disabled misspent more than $777,000 in state money". 26 May 2021.
  16. ^ Eagle, Tony Dobrowolski, The Berkshire (2023-04-07). "Maryann Hyatt found her career in a nontraditional way. It's led her to become the president and CEO of Berkshire County Arc". The Berkshire Eagle. Retrieved 2023-09-01.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)

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