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The Arc of the United States

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Sue Swenson, Executive Director, The Arc of the United States says, “Over the years people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families have benefited from the wisdom, expertise and passion provided by Nadine Vogel. The Arc of the United States values Nadine's creative and innovative approach to building a system of information and support to help meet some of the needs of people served by The Arc.”

What is The Arc?

The Arc, ranked in December 2005 by Forbes magazine as the nation's 10th largest charity, is a national network of people with intellectual disabilities and their families, affiliated chapters of volunteers and professionals, and supporters interested in issues affecting our core constituents. The Arc was founded in 1950 by parents who pursued educational rights and services for their children with intellectual disabilities. More than fifty years later, The Arc has expanded its focus to include the more than seven million American children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The Arc has roughly 140,000 members and has chapters in all 50 states. The organization is governed by a 24-member board of directors and includes state and local chapters and a professional staff based in Silver Spring, Maryland. The Arc and UCP have formed the Disability Policy Collaboration to effect change in legislative affairs. The organization's unique structure operates on several levels: local, state and national. Local chapters provide services to individuals and families of people with intellectual disabilities; state chapters are concerned with state government and policy; the national organization handles matters beyond the scope of individual chapters, such as Congressional legislation and national media coverage.

The Arc advocates for the rights and full participation of all children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Together with our network of members and affiliated chapters, we improve systems of supports and services; connect families; and influence public policy.

Advocacy is the central focus of The Arc of the United States. The organization has endorsed “The Community Imperative,” a strong statement of belief that everyone is entitled to community living, regardless of disability. A series of Position Statements form the core beliefs of the organization and its chapters and members, addressing such issues as the rights of people with intellectual disabilities, inclusion, community supports, and quality in service provision.

Public awareness is a vital function of The Arc of the United States. Through education and information dissemination, Americans are learning more about people with intellectual disabilities and each person's potential, which leads to equality and opportunities for everyone. The Arc's web site at http://www.thearc.org is a vital tool in disseminating information to chapters, members, and the general public about the issues affecting our constituents and the communities in which they live. All members receive The Arc inSight, a quarterly newsletter aimed at unifying our movement.

The grassroots nature of our organization demands that our chapters share a set of common standards, which are spelled out in an affiliation agreement. These common standards allow for effective and immediate coordination of responses to changing events and offer an assurance of competence and quality to anyone seeking The Arc's assistance.