Our Story


Our story

The Association for Community Living (ACL) is an independent advocacy organization founded in Boulder in 1962. The ACL is part of a civil and human rights movement established in the 1960s in response to denial of public education and concern about routine institutionalization of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), and their subsequent abuse in institutional settings. The ACL was instrumental in achieving the right to public education and community based support services.

These rights are now protected by law, but it can be very difficult for people with IDD to access complex and fragmented health and long-term care systems, public assistance programs, the legal/justice system, public schools, higher education systems, and employment opportunities. People with IDD also continue to find it difficult to be included in community arts, music, recreation, and leisure opportunities. The ACL is working to change societal attitudes so that people feel included and welcomed in their communities.  

The ACL approach to advocacy is multifaceted. We work to break down barriers and change societal attitudes that result in exclusion and injustice by providing individual advocacy, public policy/systems advocacy, community capacity building, and through our sponsorship of the self-advocacy movement.

Our connection with the Arc Movement

We were incorporated as a chapter of The Arc in 1974, and we are the affiliated chapter of The Arc of the United States serving Boulder and Broomfield Counties. We were created by families of people with IDD and the people we serve provide leadership on the ACL Board of Directors to this day.

Our Values 

The ACL shares a common set of values with the Arc of the U.S.

People First - We believe that all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are defined by their own strengths, abilities and inherent value, not by their disability.

Equity - We believe that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are entitled to the respect, dignity, equality, safety, and security accorded to other members of society, and are equal before the law.

Community – We believe that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities belong in the community and have fundamental moral, civil and constitutional rights to be fully included and actively participate in all aspects of society.

Self-determination – We believe in self-determination and self-advocacy.  People with intellectual and developmental disabilities, with appropriate resources and supports, can make decisions about their own lives and must be heard on issues that affect their well-being.

Diversity – We believe that society in general and The Arc in particular benefit from the contributions of people with diverse personal characteristics (including but not limited to race, ethnicity, religion, age, geographic location, sexual orientation, gender and type of disability)

Our connection with the arc Thrift Stores

The ACL provides independent advocacy for people with IDD and their families in Boulder & Broomfield Counties. Thanks to the arc Thrift Store funding, we are able to provide independent advocacy because we do not receive funding from the systems in which we advocate. This allows us to remain an independent voice for people with IDD.

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