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Who We Are

Photo from Oregonian of two people, one of whom has short dark hair and is wearing glasses and a striped t-shirt. The other stands behind him and has on mirrored sunglasses and a white t-shirt. Both have their mouths open against a blue sky background.


The Arc Portland Metro provides advocacy, support, and services to children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities [IDD] and their families.


Our vision is that people with all levels of ability have and embrace the opportunity to work, have relationships, contribute to their communities, and live life to the fullest.


Our values are those of equal opportunity:

  • We advocate for rights and opportunities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.
  • We believe that every person deserves to be treated with compassion, dignity, and care.
  • Each person can make a difference, and we believe that by working together our vision of a better life can become a reality.


It all began in 1953, when a group of 12 parents of children with intellectual and other developmental disabilities formed an organization known as the Portland Association for Retarded Children (PARC).

When PARC was founded, little was available for children and adults with developmental disabilities; the few accessible resources frequently failed to respond to unique needs. Those with disabilities deemed “educable” (or capable of achieving a fourth or fifth grade academic level) were placed in public schools. Within these schools, children with disabilities were tucked away in isolated classrooms, some of which were in basements.

Soon the parents of PARC found themselves immersed in advocacy: petitioning for more public school classrooms; securing a stable source of funding and a higher level of legitimacy through United Way; providing special services and community outings to those residing in Fairview Training Center, and so forth. Through such efforts, PARC developed a reputation for tireless campaigning on behalf of people with mental retardation so that they might be recognized as legitimate participants in society.

Fifty years later, the role of what is now known as The Arc Portland Metro continues as an enduring advocate and provider of supportive services. The philosophy of community services has changed, and inclusion is a standard, not a dream. With this in mind, The Arc remains a neutral place to receive information and support, ask questions, learn about legal rights, and engage in personal and community advocacy.

The Arc Portland Metro, a local chapter of The Arc of the United States and The Arc Oregon, is committed to helping children and adults with IDD achieve their greatest potential.