The Denise Louie Education Center


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Denise Louie Education Center is named after a young Chinese-American activist who played an integral role in revitalizing Seattle's International District.

At the time of her death, Denise was heavily involved as a board member of Inter*im (International District Improvement Association), a community planning agency, which was spearheading the effort to revitalize the International District.

Our first board of directors was Bob Santos, former executive director of Inter*im. In 1978 a large residential building burned down in the International District displacing many of Inter*im clients. A resident of this burned out apartment desperately needed to get to work and needed a safe place for her child. Mr. Santos recognized the need for a child care center in the International District and the idea for the International District Child Care Center was born.

The International District Child Care Center started in the basement of the old Bailey Gatzert Elementary school. The agency began by meeting the child care needs of the many Asian immigrant restaurant and garment workers living and working in the International District. After Denise Louie’s tragic death at the age of 22, as a by stander caught in a gang shootout, Inter*im’s board renamed the International District Child Care Center in her honor.

Over the years, DLEC was able to secure public funding from Head Start and ECEAP (Washington’s state pre-k program) and expanded to four sites. Our work has evolved—today we serve a diverse community of Seattle’s south end neighborhoods where many immigrant and refugee families live.

  • Children in poverty show significantly lower levels of proficiency in key cognitive areas, starting as early as 9 months. As children in poverty grow older, the gap between poor and non-poor achievement levels quickly expand. High-quality early education is proven to shrink these gaps.

    U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2009). The Condition of Education 2009 (NCES 2009–081)