December 16, 2017
 
Two Mass. Nonprofits Win $115K in First 'Arc Tank' Competition

November 17, 2017 — Two North Shore nonprofits that proposed innovative services for persons with disabilities won $115,000 Wednesday in a pitch competition sponsored by Northeast Arc, a Danvers-based nonprofit that provides lifelong support to children and adults living with disabilities.

The two were among five finalists who shared $200,000 in the inaugural "Arc Tank," fashioned after "The Shark Tank" television show, after presenting their ideas to a panel of judges and approximately 300 onlookers at The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum.

Winners included:

Center for Public Representation, a Northampton nonprofit law firm focused on mental health law and disability law, for "Disrupting the Guardianship Pipeline," an alternative to guardianship, which often is the only option for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The proposal was awarded $85,000.

YMCA of the North Shore, a nonprofit based in Beverly that provides programs to encourage youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility, for "Y's Water Wise," a water safety program for children with Autism spectrum disorder, who, because they often feel anxious near water, often wander as a way to seek relief, which increases the risk of accidental drowning. The proposal was awarded $30,000.

A third award, of $80,000, went to Carol Langer, associate professor at UMass Medical Center and instructor at the Harvard School of Public Health, for "Pathways to Inclusive Health Care," a service to help people with intellectual disabilities and autism transition from pediatric to adult medicine care.

Each presenter had five minutes to outline their ideas. The judges then quizzed them on their plans before selecting winners. The event attracted more than 100 proposals from around the country and internationally.

“The Ark Tank will continue full steam ahead as we monitor the progress of our winning projects and hope that they achieve success so that the lives of persons with disabilities can improve through their innovative ideas,” said Jo Ann Simons, CEO of Northeast Arc. “With Steven P. Rosenthal’s vision and philanthropy, we hope to shake up the way that services are provided and lay the groundwork for even more ideas to come forward in the future.”

Rosenthal donated $1,000,000 to fund the event for five years.

Awards of $2,500 went to Andrew Holmes, a junior at Olin College in Needham, for a wheelchair attachment that simplifies the transport and accessibility of goods on the back of a wheelchair, and Nathaniel Lorenz Galdamez, a student at Swampscott High School, for a wrist device to assist computer usage.

Judging the event were Matthew Kennedy, founder of Kennedy Merchant Partners; Shirley Leung, columnist and former business editor for The Boston Globe; Quincy Miller, president of Eastern Bank; Matthew Millett, security officer with the state Department of Youth Services; Mike Roberts, former executive director of the Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship at Harvard Business School; and Marylou Sudders, secretary of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services.

Northeast Arc, founded in 1954, today, with an annual operating budget of about $200 million, serves about 9,000 people in nearly 190 Massachusetts cities and towns.

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