The Arc of Massachusetts is a non-profit organization helping people with intellectual and developmental disabilities by advocating for their right to education, employment and a normal life with dignity and respect. The Arc of Massachusetts is led and staffed by parents and family members of the disabled people whose concerted effort has made the organization one of the biggest organizations operating in Boston. Though the Arc receives funding from the government, the amount is not sufficient to meet all the objectives of the organizations and therefore, the Arc periodically organizes different event shows and programs to catch notice and attract donors. Though the Arc is still struggling to make its presence well-known among public, there are lot of scopes for the organization to grow bigger if it manages to take care of its funding issue. In the context of a lot of other organizations dedicated to helping people with autism and cerebral palsy in the same area, the Arc of Massachusetts needs to work hard to outshine all. I have made a SWOT analysis in this paper touching upon the strength and vulnerabilities of the organization.
The Arc of Massachusetts is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting and serving people with developmental and intellectual disabilities like cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, brain injury, autism and their families. The organization vehemently advocates education, equal opportunity rights for people suffering from intellectual and developmental disability. Their objective is to create an environment in which the disabled people can learn freely and live a life like any other normal human being with dignity and respect. The objectives of the organization are to encourage people with disability to contribute to the community to the best of their abilities, to make them feel independent and lead a full and active life, to provide dynamic support in accordance with the changing needs of the community, to spread awareness and education and also to keep agencies that serve people with disabilities updated with information related to changing trends and best practices. The organization also helps in preservation of the human rights of disabled people by raising their issues in the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the federal government. This paper will discuss in detail the strength, weakness, opportunities and threats of the organization.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has awarded the Arc of Massachusetts with a cooperative agreement to operate a national project for the purpose of improving health for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This initiative will prove beneficial for the mission of the Arc to enhance the lives of the disabled people.
The Arc of Massachusetts is working in partnership with Department of Developmental Services which provides services related to intellectual and developmental disabilities through community facilities and developmental centers operated by states.
The Arc of Massachusetts is helping the Arc US in conducting the project called HealthMeet. With the fund of about $1 million from CDC, HealthMeet is aimed at reducing health disparities and increasing the quality of life for disabled people. In order to carry out its objectives, HealthMeet provides free health screenings, training and education facilities to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families, caregivers, medical professionals in order to spread awareness related to the health issues affecting people with these disabilities in the country (The Arc of Massachusetts).
The Arc of Massachusetts is led and staffed by parents, caregivers and family members of people with disabilities who understand the physical and emotional need of the disabled people. Their efforts issue out of their genuine concerns for people with disabilities which goes in favor of the mission of the Arc.
Operation House Call is a unique medical education program that involves families of I/DD people teaching medical students. Though originally started in 1991 by a joined effort of Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and The Arc of Greater Boston, this program has thrived under The Arc of Massachusetts. This program is designed to make the medical professionals skilled in providing healthcare service to the people with I/DD effectively and it is mandatory for 3rd year medical students of BUSM to take this course (The Arc of Massachusetts).
Though the Arc in its entirety is the largest organization in the US devoted to people with intellectual and developmental disability with total revenue worth $3.6 billion, it still doesn't have much of a presence. At present the Arc doesn't have much nationwide visibility. In fact there are many people unaware of the existence of the Arc. Furthermore, they are in need of increased corporate presence to draw in the crowd and media attention to their mission in the absence of which it would be difficult for them to increase the volume of donors.
One of the biggest weaknesses of the Arc of Massachusetts is the budget deficit. The government gives less priority to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, the most vulnerable group of our population and therefore, very little budget is reserved for their welfare. Further, since the organization is still struggling to make its presence known among general public, it is yet to receive support that translates into monetary benefit.
The National convention of the Arc of Massachusetts going to be held in August this year has gained attention from some of the well-reputed corporate sectors including Verizon, Microsoft and Starbucks. While Verizon and Microsoft are sponsoring the technological support for the event, Starbucks is offering special gifts to the guests. Association of bigwig names would definitely draw in a crowd of more influential donors helping in the mission of the Arc. Besides the demonstration of state of the art technology the convention would have author Buzz Bissinger as honorary guest to discuss about a book touching upon the experience of being a parent to a child with intellectual or developmental disability (Notes from the Arc of Massachusetts, 2013). This book would definitely give an edge in spreading the awareness program among common mass.
The Arc US is working in collaboration with more than 700 state and local chapters. The Arc of Massachusetts is currently involved with 17 chapters including Greater Haverhill-Newburyport, the Center of Hope Foundation and Northeast Arc. In future the organization has plans to include more chapters to strengthen their base and mission.
In order to raise funds the Arc has been holding numerous campaigns and event shows to attract people to give donations. One such event is Minute Man March arranged by the Arc of Massachusetts to hold a fundraising march every year in order to draw crowds and raise funds. Last year this march drew more than 400 people raising fund over $100,000 (FirstGiving). The Arc also holds numerous awareness campaigns to propagate its mission. ‘All Aboard The Arc’ is one such awareness campaign that organizes statewide celebration for people and community members to boost up the morale and support for the intellectually and developmentally disabled people. Last year Canadian singer Justin Hines performed in an event show for ‘All Aboard The Arc’ which was a big crowd puller. If more and more such programs can be arranged inviting one or two big celebrity figures as a spokesperson then the Arc would be able to create a visibility among people.
The Arc of Massachusetts is not the only organization in the area which serves the people with autism. National autism association has a big presence in Boston and New England. The organization is quiet big in the area and is equally or more famous than The Arc for helping autism patients. New England center for children and school for autism is another organization which helps children with autism. For this center as the school is there to help the autism patients it can reach close to the families with autism. The center is famous across the area and gets a lot of funding from public donors and some private bodies. United Cerebral palsy of Metro Boston is an organization which helps people with cerebral palsy and autism to get back to normal life and get equal opportunity in education and work. This organization only works in and around Boston but is well known among the community in which it works. It may not be as big as the Arc but it has its own set of people who supports it and donates generously to run the organization smoothly. Compared to United Cerebral Palsy of Metro Boston, Cerebral Palsy Organization of Massachusetts is much bigger and covers a larger area of affected people. This is a very old organization and helps people with disabilities like autism, cerebral palsy and other neuro injuries.
Boston is one of the oldest cities in US and because of its long heritage it has got lot of philanthropic organizations within its boundaries which operates in and around the area. The Arc is one of the new philanthropic organizations of the area. There are hundred other organizations helping people with disabilities in metro-Boston and greater-Boston area. The Arc is definitely one of the bigger organizations helping people with disabilities and it also has got strong support from the government in terms of funding but it is not sufficient. The Arc of Massachusetts needs to collaborate with other local and regional philanthropic organizations to extend its reach. It should also start building the Arc as a brand. It will give the Arc more visibility and also more people will be willing to join and help the cause. More monetary contribution and people association with the organization will certainly give the Arc of Massachusetts a huge boost in its operation. The Arc of Massachusetts is already a big name in the region but it needs to build on the name further and try to become the biggest philanthropic organization in Massachusetts so that it gets more funding from government and private bodies which can be utilized to help more and more people with disabilities.
Notes from the Arc of Massachusetts (2013).Retrieved on 20th June 2013 from <http://myemail.constantcontact.com/Notes-from-The-Arc--June-18--2013.html?soid=1102776233281&aid=FPu95keIlc8#side2>
The Arc of Opportunity, Retrieved on 20th June 2013 from <http://arcma.convio.net/site/TR/Events/General?sid=1150&type=fr_informational&pg=informational&fr_id=1070>
The Arc of Massachusetts, Retrieved on 20th June 2013 from <http://www.arcmass.org/CommunityServices/HealthWellnessResources.aspx>
2013 Minute Man MARCH, FirstGiving. Retrieved on 20th June 2013 from <http://www.firstgiving.com/MinutemanArc/2013-minute-man-march>