A Tale of Sputnik and Spunky WomenSputnik satellite

Fascination with the idea of a U.S. space program turned to alarm when a Soviet-launched satellite orbited Earth in 1957. In Los Angeles, a small but ambitious and energetic group of women asked what they could do to elevate the nation's scientific leadersip and reestablish technological superiority.

Florence Malouf with Ronald ReganAudacious founder Florence Malouf (with then-Gov. Ronald Regan at left) and co-founders Mrs. Franklin Slagel, Mrs. Dean Wooldridge and Mrs. John Tyler met with California Institute of Technology President Lee DuBridge. Together they forged a unique partnership between science and society: Achievement Rewards for College Scientists, soon to became a model for women's science educational philanthropy.

On September 5, 1958, ARCS Foundation, Inc. was incorporated as a non-profit organization in California; 13 days later, its formation was announced at the CalTech campus in Pasadena along with its purpose: to "…raise money for scholarships and fellowships (now known as Scholar Awards)…for the support of both undergraduate and graduate students,"

The Thinker ARCS logoThe first awards—three $1,000 scholarships—were presented to science students at Caltech and Harvey Mudd College and the initial scholars feted at a Science Awards Dinner in 1962. That model was adopted by other chapters as ARCS Foundation spread across the continent to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west over the ensuing seven decades.

Thousands of Scholars and millions of dollars later, ARCS Foundation remains true to its fundamental principles:

  • 100% of all contributions to the scholar award fund go directly to scholars.

  • Scholars must be U.S. citizens and the highest achieving students in the basic sciences.

  • Recipient schools are selected on the basis of excellence in science, engineering, mathematics, or medical research.

  • Schools select scholars on the basis of academic achievement without regard for race, creed, or gender.


A Chapter Timeline

1958Los Angeles Founder Chapter (a merger of founders and a 1965 junior auxiliary.)

1963 Houston Chapter, dissolved in 1995. 

1968 Washington, D.C. (now Metropolitan Washington Chapter to cover suburban members and universities in Virginia and Maryland.)

1970   Northern California Chapter, formed by community leaders.

1972 — Lubbock Chapter, since dissolved.

1973 — New York Chapter, dissolved in 1995. 

1974 — Honolulu Chapter, inspiring horticulturalist Haruyuki Kamemoto's to breed the ARCS Anthurium.

1975 — Phoenix Chapter, by 18 forward thinkers.

1976 — Denver, later named Colorado Chapter.

1977 —  Chicago (now Illinois Chapter), its first award from a $10,000 Dreyfus Fund donation.

1978 — Seattle Chapter; its charter delivered via a Hughes Aircraft corporate jet.

1980 — Dallas Chapter, later dissolved. 

1985 — San Diego Chapter, awarding $85,000 in its first three years.

1990 — Boston Chapter, deactivated in 1995.    

1992 — Atlanta Chapter, with 40 charter members pledging $500/year.

1999 — Orange County Chapter in Southern Caliornia.

2003 —  Pittsburgh Chapter, with 61 charter members.

2004 —  Portland, expanding into the Oregon Chapter.

2009 — Utah Chapter, with 30 active members in two months.

2009 — Minnesota Chapter, with 50 charter members.

2010 — Tampa Bay Chapter, later dissolved.