National Arc History

The National Arc Movement was born as a grassroots movement of families working vigilantly to create services for children and adults who were being denied day care, educational opportunities and work programs.

The National Arc was founded in 1950. The Arc was comprised of a small group of concerned and passionate parents and community members who would be catalyst for changing the public perception of children with disabilities.  For the past 60 years, The Arc has continued to grow and evolve along with the changing needs and issues people with disabilities and their families face.

Today The Arc is the largest national community-based organization advocating for and serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.  With more than 140,000 members and 730 state and local chapters nationwide, we are on the front lines to ensure that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families have the support they need to be members of the community.

Arc Chapters

The Arc Movement consists of three types of chapters:

  • Local Chapters – Local chapters serve a specific county, city, town or regional area within a state, i.e. The Arc of San Juan County. The number of local chapters within each state varies – New York has 55 local chapters, New Mexico has one. Local chapters can vary in size from a group of people who meet in someone’s home to a small advocacy agency to very a large multi-million dollar agency that provides services to hundreds of individuals and families. Local chapters are required to be affiliated (payment of annual dues) with the State Chapter and the National Arc Chapter.
  • State Chapters – Most states have a state chapter and the core of state chapters is Public Policy. State chapters vary in size and the scope of work varies from state to state. The Arc of New Mexico is one of the largest state chapters in terms of staff and budget offering a variety of services and programs to individuals and family members. State chapters are required to be affiliated with the National Arc Chapter.
  • The National Arc Chapter is located in Washington, D.C. – Each year The Arc organizes and hosts The Annual Arc Conference and collaborates with other national advocacy organizations to host the annual Public Policy Seminar. The Arc implements several national programs that are funded by grants from government, private foundations or other dedicated sources. These programs encompass several national initiatives (for more information visit
  • The Arc also develops and utilizes position statements, with input from members at all levels, to address critical issues related to human and civil rights, treatment, and services and programs for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.

Rebranding of The Arc

In 2008 and 2009 The Arc initiated efforts to explore how to rebrand The Arc with the goal to create a consistent message and logo that would unite all Arc chapters. In early 2010 The Arc began working with CoreBrand to develop a new message and logo. Later that year the new brand was introduced at the National Arc Convention with the Official Kick Off taking place in March of 2011. Since then the new brand has been adopted by a majority of the Arc chapters across the country.

The Arc of New Mexico

Founded in 1955, The Arc of New Mexico has been in the front lines of battles, large and small, for the rights and dignity of persons with developmental disabilities in New Mexico. The Arc works directly with individuals and their families to insure their quality of life and their ability to choose their own way. The Arc of NM also works with the New Mexico Legislature, State Agencies, community leaders, providers, families and other advocates to fight against discrimination, fear, segregation and abuse and for freedom, choice, respect and dignity.

At one time there were over 15 local chapters around the state. Today there is only one – The Arc of San Juan County. The decline in the number of local chapters can be attributed to: 1) Aging of the membership and no recruitment of younger leaders, 2) financial hardship or 3) disaffiliation by choice.

Despite the decline in local chapters Arc membership, services and programs continue to grow statewide.
The Arc serves individuals and families in all 5 regions of the state. In addition to the Albuquerque Metro office there are individuals working part-time from their homes in Grant County and Santa Fe.

Join the Movement! Join The Arc! Arc of New Mexico membership is free and for a lifetime.

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Upcoming Events

  1. Family Leadership Conference

    April 18 - April 19
  2. Annual Prom For Individuals with Special Needs

    May 4 @ 4:00 pm - 7:00 pm
  3. Assistive Technology Conference

    May 6 @ 7:30 am - May 7 @ 3:00 pm

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