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Northeast Arc, the Danvers-based nonprofit that serves more than 10,000 people with disabilities and autism in Massachusetts, has announced the fifth annual Arc Tank, a pitch competition that awards up to $200,000 to innovative ideas to improve the well-being of people with disabilities and autism.

The Arc Tank, a “Shark Tank”-style competition launched in 2017, invites individuals, nonprofits, businesses, healthcare systems, educators, and others worldwide to submit their ideas across a variety of areas, including safety and well-being, employment, technology, housing, transportation, or socialization for individuals with disabilities. Previous winning ideas have included a program to educate law enforcement officers about autism, an app to use beatboxing as a speech therapy tool, and technology that helps students communicate with parents about their school day.

Interested applicants can learn more about The Arc Tank 5.0 at Applications are due on October 6, 2023. Finalists will present their ideas in front of a judging panel, open to the public, on December 5, 2023 at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, a founding partner in The Arc Tank competition.

This year, Northeast Arc has partnered with Multiple, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that supports innovations to improve the lives of people with autism. Multiple will expand and promote the competition to encourage the generation of even more effective and powerful ideas.

“Through our award-winning work serving people with disabilities and autism, we innately understand the need for innovation that enhances life quality, provides inclusive opportunities, and supports equity in the community,” says Tim Brown, chief innovation and strategy officer at Northeast Arc. “With Multiple’s expertise in nurturing founders and connecting them to a wider investing ecosystem, we know Arc Tank is in good hands and can scale this wonderful program to the national recognition it deserves.”

Backed by experience and expertise

A panel of experts comprised of investors, philanthropists and local community leaders will judge the applications, select finalists, and determine the final outcomes of the contest. Returning experts include Marylou Sudders, former Secretary of Health and Human Services in Massachusetts; Ralph James, a philanthropist; and Matthey Kennedy, founder of Kennedy Merchant Partners, board member of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library Foundation. Joining the panel this year is James Keith, Special Olympian and one of the stars of the recent movie ‘Champions.’ The panel is supported by David Chang, entrepreneur and angel investor.

Since its launch in 2017 with a $1 million donation from Steven P. Rosenthal to create the Changing Lives Fund, The Arc Tank has awarded more than $850,000 to proposals that promise to break down barriers for people with disabilities who are too often marginalized, not included as equal participants in everyday life, and prevented from taking advantage of opportunities.

“We’re thrilled for the opportunity to join forces with Northeast Arc and host Arc Tank, one of the first ever programs aimed at surfacing new solutions for the disability community,” says Multiple CEO Heidi Kershaw.

Northeast Arc is among the largest Arcs in the U.S. and offers support and services to individuals with disabilities or autism and their families, helping them as inclusive members of society through their lifespan, choosing for themselves how to live, learn, work, play, and socialize.

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