Awards Criteria


All nominations will be reviewed by the Catalyst Awards Selection Committee. If a nomination does not meet the basic criteria of aligning with The Arc’s mission and core values, position statements, and strategic framework it will be considered ineligible for consideration. Additionally, all nominations must be of national significance to the intellectual and developmental disability (I/DD) community.

The scope of the work being nominated can be at the local, regional, state, or national level. Support of inclusion at any level can help manifest change nationally. Nominees must have advanced one or more of the goals and strategies in the strategic framework, including:


PLEASE NOTE: Awards will not necessarily be presented in every award category, decisions will be made based on the caliber of nominations received.

Below is specific guidance/criteria for awards by category, for a full list of awards click here. 

Awards in this category are given to individuals or organizations that have supported the development and implementation of public policy or initiatives that protect and promote the human rights of people with I/DD. Nominations in this category should support inclusion for individuals with I/DD in the community throughout their lifetimes and align with The Arc’s mission and core values.

For nominations related to public policy advocacy, please review The Arc’s Legislative Agenda for a list of key federal policy issues for people with I/DD and our stance these priority areas.

The Arc believes that children and youth with I/DD must receive a free, appropriate public education as guaranteed by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Education must include individualized supports and services, quality instruction, and access to the general education curriculum in age-appropriate inclusive settings, in preparation for adult life. Nominations in this category must align with The Arc’s Position Statement on Education.

To be considered for an award in this category, nominations must support community based employment and align with The Arc’s Position Statement on Employment.

Nominations in the category should showcase to the public the positive role and contributions of people with I/DD . Additionally, nominations must promote increased public awareness of people with I/DD and their needs, issues, and concerns.


Philanthropy plays an important role in supporting innovation and improvement in services for people with I/DD, and in strengthening the I/DD community. Nominations in this category should identify individual philanthropists, corporate or private philanthropic organizations whose contributions, to The Arc or to (an) other group(s), have substantially enhanced the lives of people with I/DD and advanced The Arc’s mission.