Civil Rights | Northwest Center
Signing House Bill 90, 1971. The Education For All Act

Civil Rights For All

Northwest Center was founded in 1965 by parents who refused to institutionalize their children with developmental disabilities or accept the prevailing notion that their children couldn't be taught. Banding together to form Northwest Center for the Retarded, they hired their own teachers to develop education programs targeted to special needs and found that their children could indeed learn.

That was only the first step. Still frustrated that children with disabilities weren't accepted in public schools, these parents authored and won approval of civil rights legislation that opened the doors of Washington State schools to all children—with no exceptions. The Education for All Act was the first such law in the nation and served as the model for federal legislation.

“To promote the growth, development and independence of people with developmental disabilities through programs of education, rehabilitation and work opportunity.”

The spirit of advocacy and innovation that gave rise to our organization has continued to influence our development. Now, 50 years later, Northwest Center has grown to become the largest community service organization serving children and adults of all abilities in the Pacific Northwest.

Backed by a tireless staff, strong leadership and active community partnerships, we are working to enrich the lives and livelihood of the individuals we serve. Watch our Founders Video (below) to learn more about our formation and history.


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