In 1949, a group of eight parents founded the “Maryland Society for Mentally Retarded Children, Inc.”, and began laying the groundwork for our direct service programs that would become our hallmark. Over the next 25 years, we were a consistent pioneer in programming through the establishment of a developmental program for young children who weren’t guaranteed education at the time, several recreational programs, a sheltered workshop, the state’s first activity center for adults, the state’s first group home in Roland Park, a landscape employment services division and countless other programs.
The next 30 years saw the creation of a respite care program, janitorial employment services, a treatment foster care program, and the expansion of our groundbreaking community living program to accommodate deinstitutionalized individuals. In addition, there was a reduction of employment and day centers from twelve to 6 to encourage greater community involvement, and the creation of a number of family services including support groups, a family training curriculum and our Bay Buddies summer enrichment and education program.
In 2008, we launched the innovative Project SEARCH high school and adult employment internship program at University of Maryland Medical Center and University of Maryland, Baltimore and have since added two program sites. In 2013, we created our Career Catalyst program that focuses on helping employees with developmental disabilities who are currently underemployed or unemployed find meaningful employment.
As one of the nation’s largest and most respected organizations of its kind, The Arc Baltimore is an indispensable resource providing employment training and support, day and residential services, family support and education, treatment foster care, respite care, public policy advocacy, and information and referrals.
1949 - A group of eight parents form the Maryland Society for Retarded Children—known today as The Arc Baltimore—and meet to improve the lives of children with mental retardation and physical handicaps.
1950 - The organization incorporates under the name Maryland Society for Mentally Retarded Children. Committees begin planning the direct support programs that will become The Arc of Baltimore's hallmark.
1951 - The Arc of Baltimore's first newsletter is published.
1952 - The Searchlight Training Center, a developmental program for young children, opens in the basement of St. Michael & All Angels Church on St. Paul Street.
1953 - The Arc of Baltimore sponsors teen dances and other recreational programs.
1957 - The first six workers enter The Arc's sheltered workshop, a predecessor to the Subcontract Company.
1962 - The sheltered workshop moves from Greenmount Avenue to expand in new quarters at Old York Road.
1969 - The Arc's first Activity Center, the first of its kind in Maryland, opens in an abandoned movie theater in Dundalk.
1971 - The Arc opens a group home in Roland Park, the first such community living opportunity in the State.
1972 - The Arc secures a contract to maintain the grounds of Loyola College and launches its Landscape Employment Service.
1972 - The Arc institutes psychological and social services.
1974 - Greenhouse program opens in Reisterstown and Essex.
1975 - The Arc creates a Program Department to oversee Individual Program Plan development and staff training.
1977 - Residents experience integrated community living in The Arc's first alternative living units (ALU).
1978 - Family Resources establishes a respite care program, homemaker services, transportation support, and a family training curriculum.
1978 - Seventeen new ALU's open their doors to 50 Rosewood residents as The Arc plays a vital role in Maryland's deinstitutionalization process.
1981 - A contract with the Ellicott City Courthouse paves the way for The Arc's Janitorial Employment Service.
1985 - Twenty‑eight supported workers are employed through a grant from the State of Maryland. Less than a decade later, The Arc of Baltimore becomes the nation's supported employment leader.
1990 - Foster Care program begins providing family placement for children with special needs.
1991 - Recreation Program institutes much‑needed leisure and social opportunities.
1992 - Consumers live in homes of their own through The Arc's Community Supported Living Arrangement (CSLA) program.
1993 - Medical Day Care program begins.
1993 - The Arc undertakes its first capital campaign in 45 years.
1994 - The Arc of Baltimore Community Resource Center opens at 7215 York Road!
1995 - The Arc opens Towson Child Care Center and Adult Medical Day Care Center at 7215 York Road.
1995 - Successful completion of the Capital Campaign.
1996 - A record-breaking 422 persons in community-based employment. Supported workers earn in excess of $2 million this year.
1997 - Three-year contract with the Department of Human Resources for the Arc's award‑winning respite care program. Employment contracts for Landscape and Janitorial programs total $3.7 million.
1999 - The Arc of Baltimore celebrates its 50th anniversary as Baltimore's premier advocate. The Arc breaks ground for the new Employment Center at Seton Business Park in Baltimore City. The new building will be home to Janitorial and Landscape Services and later serves as a launch point for dozens of crews contracted for off-site work.
2000 - Grand opening of new Arc Employment Center at Seton.
2001 - The Arc offers inaugural Bay Buddies Camp for twenty children with disabilities in partnership with Baltimore County Recreation and Parks and the Living Classrooms Foundation.
2002 - Organization changes official name to The Arc of Baltimore, Inc. in response to self-advocates requests.
2002 - The Arc of Baltimore opens a new Dundalk Medical Day Center.
2003 - Bay Buddies Program expanded to accommodate 80 campers from Baltimore County and Baltimore City public schools.
2005 The Arc’s major programs are accredited by CARF (formerly the Commission on the Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities) and also earns the Standards for Excellence Certification through the Maryland Association of Nonprofit Organizations.
After 30 years as a funded agency of United Way of Central Maryland, United Way redirects funding away from DD services, and The Arc Baltimore establishes a Family Fund including staff-directed payroll gifts as well as designated gifts through workplace giving programs. The Family Fund allows for continued support and resources to families in crisis for special assistance with eviction prevention or utility cutoffs, as well as funding of medical equipment, needed therapies, recreation, assistive technology, respite, and other services out of financial reach.
2008 - The Arc launches the Project SEARCH employment initiative in partnership with the University of Maryland Baltimore, Baltimore City Public Schools, and the Maryland Department of Rehabilitation Services (DORS). The program includes 14 adults employed at UMB plus a class of Baltimore City special education students receiving training and internship experiences to prepare them for entry into the world of work after graduation.
2008 - The Arc closes the day center in Waverly, moving participants to a space at the York Road Community Resource Center that serves as both an activity area and launch site for crews doing indoor and outdoor janitorial work.
2009 - After years of lobbying, self-advocates and The Arc family celebrate the planned closure of the State’s Rosewood institution and welcome 10 former Rosewood residents into The Arc's services.
2009 - The Arc of Baltimore celebrates the 60th anniversary of the initial parent organizing (1949) and the official incorporation (1950).
2010 - LifePrint database, developed by The Arc Baltimore, is copyrighted.
2011 - The organization adopts a new logo as part of a national branding initiative and adopts the name, The Arc Baltimore.
2012 - The Arc launches a third site for their Project SEARCH program at Medstar Union Memorial Hospital.
2012 - Established formal Assistive Technology program to better utilize various technologies and applications to support individuals at work and home.
2012 - The Arc closes its day center at Rutherford and opens a downsized center in Woodlawn as an employment hub for participants.
2013 - Our first Community Living home is equipped with Rest Assured technology to support independent living for an individual by using cameras, microphones, and other technical support that ensures health and safety while maintaining privacy.
2013 - The Clinical Supports team launches The Healing Center - an intensive individual and group trauma-informed therapy program for individuals with I/DD. It was established for people who have experienced trauma that may be preventing them from reaching certain goals. Weekly visits to an area church allow for music, art, group therapy, individual counseling, and other healing activities with psychological support staff from The Arc.
2013 - Reorganization of departments results in the establishment of the Outreach and Family Services Division.
2014 - Career Catalyst is established with an office/classroom location in Hunt Valley. The First intern is hired within weeks of her placement at an area business.
2014 - The Healing Center was established for people who have experienced trauma that may be preventing them from reaching certain goals. Weekly visits to an area church allow for music, art, group therapy, individual counseling, and other healing activities with psychological support staff from The Arc.
2015 - The Arc launches its fourth Project SEARCH site at Northwest Hospital with our partner, Sheppard Pratt Health System.
2016 - The Arc aligns its strategic plan with the corresponding and additional changes presented by Employment First and CMS Final Rule in its “2020 Vision” plan.
2017 - After a 45-year career with The Arc Baltimore, Executive Director Steve Morgan retires. The Board conducts a national executive search and ultimately hires from within – former Deputy Director Kathleen Durkin becomes Executive Director.
2019 - The Annual Meeting celebrates The Arc Baltimore’s 70th anniversary by honoring families who established the organization.
2019 - Continuing the transition to more community-based day programs with opportunities for people to increasingly be engaged in activities and trips around Greater Baltimore, The Arc closed its day center in Woodlawn.
2019 - The Arc developed a new strategic plan along with a new mission, vision, values, and guiding principles statements. The Board provided final approval in January 2020.
2019 - The Arc Baltimore launched the Luminaries young professional group with an aim to connect young people in the Baltimore business community with our mission through networking happy hours and service opportunities.
2020 - On March 13th, due to COVID-19, The Arc announced the “temporary” closure of all of our day centers and supported employment programs including contract services. The agency suspended or re-deployed virtually additional programs to keep people safe. Residential programs went 24/7 while much of the independent employed and some contract workers deemed “essential” continued their employment in a new “normal.”
The staff ensured the availability and proper use of supplies of masks and other personal protective equipment, and they established new protocols to ensure compliance with State directives.
2020 - With day services not operating out of centers for the remainder of the year, the Loch Ridge center was closed permanently. Staff continued to provide virtual classes and supports using new modalities and creative approaches.
2021 - With the availability of COVID vaccines through the federal initiative, Operations Warp Speed, The Arc held numerous vaccine clinics, in partnership with CVS Pharmacy, in late January and throughout February. Later, The Arc held multiple drive-through clinics to distribute the first booster shots. In total, The Arc distributed over 1600 vaccines!
2021 - The Arc started its first LGBTQ Support Group. The members of the group received the Self-Advocate of the Year award at The Arc’s annual awards ceremony in May 2022.
2021-22 - The Arc’s programs began to cautiously re-engage the people we support in the community. While balancing the new “normal” of pandemic cautions and exposures, The Arc continues to provide a hybrid support approach including community activities, in-center activities, and virtual classes to those in our community to best support “fulfilling lives.”
2022 - In June 2022, The Daily Record announced The Arc Baltimore as a recipient of their COVID-19 Heroes Award.