Denise Louie Education Center was 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 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 Founder was Uncle Bob Santos, former Executive Director of Inter*Im. In 1978, a large residential building burned down in the International District, which displaced many of Inter*im’s clients. A resident of this burned-down apartment complex desperately needed to get to work and desired a safe place for her child. Mr. Santos recognized the need for a child care center in the Seattle International District, and the International District Child Care Center was born.
Denise Louie worked for Inter*im and led the efforts to create the first International District Child Care Center. The International District Child Care Center started in the basement of the old Bailey Gatzert Elementary School and began meeting the child care needs of the many Asian immigrant restaurant and garment workers living and working in the area. After Denise Louie’s death at the age of 22, Inter*im’s Board renamed the International District Child Care Center to Denise Louie Education Center (DLEC) in her honor.
DLEC has secured funding from various sources, including the Office of Head Start and Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP), Washington’s state pre-k program. As a result, our work combines compassionate and individualized care to serve families from north Seattle to south-end neighborhoods where many immigrant and refugee populations live. More than 80% of our families speak a language other than English at home. All our programs recognize the importance of home, school, culture, community, and inclusion and are offered at no cost to many families to ensure kindergarten readiness.