History

Founded in 1948 by parents who sought better services for their children with developmental and other disabilities, The Arc of Philadelphia is one of the first of now more than 700 Arc chapters in the United States. The parents who created The Arc labored tirelessly for the equal rights and human dignity of people with disabilities at a time when institutionalization of newborns with intellectual disabilities was the norm. 

Over the past 65 years, The Arc through its volunteer board, staff and membership has become a powerful voice in shaping the service landscape for people with disabilities. As an early pioneer, The Arc of Philadelphia advocated for the right of education for school age children, the closure of Pennhurst, and promoted integrated, community and school based services for children and adults with intellectual and other developmental disabilities.  At every step in the struggle for equal rights, The Arc of Philadelphia has been a vibrant catalyst for change at the local, state and national level. 

Our relationship building with our state and national legislators is noteworthy and we are seen by them as a leader regarding disability-related system issues.  The mission of The Arc is to advocate with and for all children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families, to promote active citizenship, self-determination, and full inclusion.

Retrospective Video