Core Values


From its beginning, a major strength of The Arc movement has been that parents, family members, and volunteers have governed the organization. In recent years, self-advocates have also assumed important roles. Parents, family members, self-advocates, and other volunteers are the driving force in The Arc. From the grassroots of The Arc come the dreams, the philosophy that drives the core values, the ability to shape public policy, and the mutual support that parents and self-advocates provide for one another.

Core values of The Arc are those values that are subscribed to and pursued at all three levels of The Arc – national, state, and local chapters – as well as by volunteer and staff leaders.

Core Values

  • People First – The Arc believes that all people with intellectual and related developmental disabilities have strengths, abilities, and inherent value; are equal before the law; and must be treated with dignity and respect. The Arc represents, supports, and acts on behalf of individuals and their families regardless of level of disability or membership in The Arc. The Arc believes in self-determination by empowering people with the support needed to make informed decisions and choices.
  • Democracy – A democratic process involving members, through affiliated chapters, is utilized to take positions on important issues, policies, and programs.
  • Visionary Leadership – The Arc leads by promoting the mission, core values, and position statements. We lead with integrity, accountability, and by open, honest, and timely communication. We work with individuals, organizations, and coalitions in a collaborative fashion. There is a valued partnership with volunteer and staff leadership at all levels of the organization that provides mutual support for their respective roles.
  • Community Participation – The Arc works toward and believes in the community imperative: that all people have the fundamental moral, civil, and constitutional rights to live, learn, work, play, and worship in safe and healthy communities of their choosing. The Arc has the responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of individuals.
  • Diversity – The Arc values and insists upon diversity in its leadership and membership. The Arc actively pursues and welcomes diverse groups (including but not limited to race, ethnicity, religion, age, geographic location, sexual orientation, gender and level of disability).
  • Integrity and Excellence – The Arc conducts its business with integrity. The Arc reflects quality and excellence in all its work.

– Approved by the Delegate Body, Sep. 2000


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