The Orange County chapter of the ARCS Foundation was founded by Patricia Beckman, Mary Cesario and Mary Lou Furnas. Patricia Beckman was the founding president, followed by Mary Lou Furnas.
The chapter had 44 members when it received its charter on June 5, 1999, in Washington, D.C.
The chapter supports graduate students in the Francisco J. Ayala School Biological Sciences, the School of Physical Sciences, the Henry Samueli School of Engineering, the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences and the School of Medicine at UC Irvine.
In 1999-2000, the chapter members raised enough funds for the first five scholar awards $12,500 to be awarded in the academic year 2000-2001. Currently, the awards are $7,500 for each of two years, with the exception of Roche/ARCS awards, which are $5,000 for each of three years. In 2015-2016, ARCS Orange County presented awards to 15 scholars.