Frequently Asked Questions

What does the name “The Arc” mean?

In 1990, seven metro Arc chapters, led by a strong group of self-advocates and families, agreed to do away with the name “Association for Retarded Citizens,” the historic name and acronym and replace it with a new name, The Arc. The name change arose out of concern with the label “retarded,” now referred to as the “R-word.” 



What is people-first language?

People First language puts the person before the disability and it describes a condition a person has, not who a person is. An example would be to say “people with disabilities” instead of “the handicapped or disabled.”


What are intellectual and Developmental Disabilities?

Intellectual and developmental disabilities include Down syndrome, autism, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy and other related conditions.


What kinds of help does The Arc provide?

The Arc is all about helping people make connections, get answers and find their way. Services span the lifetime – providing help with education, health care, housing, employment and more. For programs and services, click here.


How can The Arc support people who do not speak English as their primary language?

The Arc has advocates on staff who are fluent in Spanish, Hmong and Somali.


Are services available to members of The Arc only?

No. Thousands of individuals and families receive services each year and only a portion are members. No one is turned away.


Is there a cost for services? 

Calls for information and assistance and one-to-one advocacy services are provided without charge to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. Most events or services are offered at no or low cost.


 How is The Arc funded?

The Arc Minnesota raises funds through the Annual Campaign, Sponsorships, Arc Gala, United Way, Tapemark Charity Pro-Am, and grants. Arc’s Value Village Thrift Stores and Donation Centers have been a significant source of funding for The Arc, generating more than $25 million since 1982.


Why support The Arc?


The Arc Minnesota’s mission is to promote and protect the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, actively supporting them and their families in a lifetime of full inclusion and participation in their communities.

Only a generation ago, people with disabilities were institutionalized and largely invisible. Today people with disabilities have many options for where they live, learn, work and play. Changes in public policy constantly threaten funding for programs and services. 


How do I become a member of The Arc?

For information about membership and to complete and submit an online membership form, click here.


Can I volunteer with The Arc?

Absolutely! Agency volunteer opportunities range from helping with support groups, trainings, and volunteering on committees, to assisting with special events and mailings. Arc’s Value Village volunteer opportunities include unpacking, sorting, tagging, hanging clothing, displaying donated merchandise, and more! For information about volunteering for The Arc and Arc’s Value Village Thrift Stores and Donation Centers, click here.


Is The Arc Minnesota affiliated with a national organization?

Yes. The Arc Minnesota is affiliated with The Arc United States.  Services and programs vary by chapter and state, however, all advocate for the rights and full participation of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. To learn more about The Arc United States, click here.