Our Story

Working Towards a Better Tomorrow

The Arc of Philadelphia has led the way in protecting the rights of, and promoting opportunities for, children and adults with disabilities. The Arc of Philadelphia advocates with and for all children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families to promote active citizenship, self-determination and full inclusion. The Arc of Philadelphia is affiliated with The Arc of Pennsylvania and The Arc of the United States; and is a member of SpArc Philadelphia.

The Arc of Philadelphia Guiding Principles

INTEGRITY AND EXCELLENCE- We fulfill our mission with integrity and transparency and are committed to quality and excellence in all we do.

PARTICIPATORY DEMOCRACY- We commit to the principle that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, their families, and other citizens have meaningful opportunities to inform and guide the direction of The Arc.

VISIONARY LEADERSHIP– We lead by articulating a positive future for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

COLLABORATION- We work with individuals and organizations in a collaborative fashion that promotes effective partnerships.


Founded in 1948 by parents who sought better services for their children with developmental and other disabilities, The Arc of Philadelphia was 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.

The Arc, through its volunteer board, staff and members, 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 aged 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 levels.