Seven Semi-Finalists Chosen to Compete for $250,000 at the Arc Tank 3.0

October 31, 2019

Seven proposals to improve the lives of the persons with disabilities picked from a pool of 100

Ways to battle unemployment and under employment, social isolation, speech and language barriers and the lack of fitness programs – all are among the winning proposals from seven Arc Tank semi-finalists. The seven proposals were selected from almost 100 applications submitted from across the globe with one goal: Improve the lives of those with disabilities.

The semi-finalists will compete for $250,000 in funding to support their proposals on how to improve the lives of individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism. The semi-finalists will pitch their ideas before a panel of judges at an event on November 19th at the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation. Since 2017, the Arc Tank of  Northeast Arc has provided $400,000 to fund pioneering and positively disruptive ideas to enhance the lives of persons with disabilities.

“People with disabilities are often marginalized and the Arc Tank semi-final proposals all show pathways to breaking down barriers and stigmas, providing so many people with inclusion and opportunity,” said Jo Ann Simons, President of Northeast Arc. “Every year the quality of the proposals we receive has improved, and it was not an easy task to narrow down the list.  These semi-finalists have come up with some of the most innovative ideas on how to improve the lives of people with intellectual disabilities and autism, and we can’t wait to see who the winners are on November 19th.”

Arc Tank 3.0 Semi-Finalists:

AdaptX, submitted by Unified Health and Performance, Lancaster, MA

AdaptX is a multi-faceted educational, fitness and marketing company.  AdaptX wants to improve the health of individuals with disabilities by increasing accessibility and opportunity by educating a community of gym owners, trainers, coaches and special educators who are passionate about adaptive fitness.

Autism Works – Developing Talent of the Future, submitted by Interactive Media Institute, San Diego, CA

Ninety-percent of adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are unemployed or underemployed and 53 percent of autistic young adults have never held a job. Autism Works combines technical certification in virtual reality development and computer programming training to help autistic young adults find gainful employment.

BEAT Rockers App, submitted by Bridging Education & Art Together, Long Island City, NY

BEAT Rockers App moves the documented success documented by BEAT Global to a mobile app platform.  The app will make speech practice more fun for almost six million children ages 3-17 (1 in 12) who have speech and developmental disability. BEAT Rockers App would make speech therapy entertaining through beatboxing using only their voices.

Creating Opportunities Through Entrepreneurial Ecosystems, submitted by Celebrate EDU, Boulder CO

The project will empower communities to implement programming that allows those with disabilities to design their own future through entrepreneurship training and skill development.  The project will provide entrepreneurial education programs to self-advocates, offer valuable resources to family members and train service providers in cross-disability organizations.

Evidence-based Mobile Technologies for Optimized Speech and Language Training, submitted by U. of Central Florida, Orlando, FL

About 50 percent of learners with autism or developmental disabilities remain minimally verbal even after years of receiving treatment and establishing communication and language is an immediate and crucial need.  The project’s SPEAK*** software targets functional communication, natural speech development, early language and social interaction, to allow better participation in school and society and will make an impact on this underserved population.

L.A. Lab for Entertainment Professionals with Disabilities, submitted by RespectAbility, (Los Angeles and Rockville, MD)

The project will focus on bringing opportunities in the entertainment industry for people with disabilities to work behind the camera as these options are now lacking. RespectAbility has been working with major studios to include actors with Down syndrome, autism and anxiety, and the next frontier is to help individuals with disabilities access roles behind the camera such as development, production and post-production, writers, directors, producers, cinematographers, animators and other roles.

4-A Club: Autism, Aging, Alexa, Access, submitted by New England Yachad, Brookline, MA

The 4-A Club will address the way that technology can bridge the gap between isolation and feeling connected for older adults with autism who make lack education, accessibility and ongoing assistance. The 4-A Club: Autism, Aging, Alexa, Access breaks this cycle. Amazon has agreed to be a partner in this project through its Alexa home automation technology.

The panel of judges who will determine the winners at the Arc Tank competition are:

  • Matthew Kennedy – Founder, Kennedy Merchant Partners
  • Ralph James, Entrepreneur, higher education administrator, philanthropist
  • Shirley Leung – Interim Editorial Page Editor, Columnist, Boston Globe
  • Quincy Miller – President, Eastern Bank
  • Matthew Millett – Security Officer II, Department of Youth Services, Commonwealth of Massachusetts
  • Marylou Sudders – Sec. Health & Human Services, Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Judges will also receive support from David Chang, an entrepreneur, active angel investor and CEO of Gradifi and from Margaret Ake, moderator of Harvard Business Publishing.

The Arc Tank’s previous winners in years one and two have achieved significant results.  Since 2017, 64 children with autism have learned how to swim, first responders from six states have been trained, 30 people have been supported with alternative forms of guardianship, and virtual reality technology is being developed to help people with autism execute everyday activities including riding a public bus, traversing city streets and navigating air travel.

This year, Northeast Arc is partnering with The Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism and the Nancy Lurie Marks Family Foundation.  The Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism is seeking ideas that address the needs of people with autism in New England, particularly those that promote better care and more active and independent lifestyles. The Nancy Lurie Marks Family Foundation is seeking ideas that address aging well with autism in the greater Boston area, and that address unmet needs including social integration, healthy lifestyles, geriatric health, recreational, social and volunteer opportunities, personal safety, transportation, housing and more.

The Arc Tank 3.0, in collaboration with the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, is made possible with the support of the Changing Lives Fund, which was established through a $1 million donation from Steven P. Rosenthal, founder of West Shore, LLC and a resident of Marblehead, Mass. Northeast Arc is a human services organization that annually serves 10,000 children and adults from 190 Massachusetts cities and towns who have a broad range of disabilities including intellectual disabilities and autism.

For more information on The Arc Tank 3.0 and to RSVP to the November 19th event, please visit

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