Education Creates Hope and Opportunity (ECHO)


According to the national average, only about 40% of teen parents graduate from high school. Compare that figure with the 90+% graduation rate for ECHO participants. This basic level of achievement has a profound effect on earning potential, which in turn helps keep many above the poverty level.

According to 2015 Bureau of Labor statistics, the average unemployment rate nationally for the non-high-school graduate is 8.0%, compared with 5.4% for a high-school graduate. Similarly, the average weekly income for someone without a high-school diploma is $493, $678 for the high-school graduate and $1,137 a week for the person with a bachelor’s degree.

“One of the best things we can do to address poverty is to prevent it.,” says Gloria Whitcraft, CEO of Catholic Charities. “ECHO is the most effective program we have for reducing the risk of single mothers falling into poverty.”

Our goal with ECHO is to provide support to young parents so they can stay in school and create a better future for themselves and their children. Many teen moms feel their dreams of college and a career vanish when they become pregnant. ECHO can help them keep those dreams alive.

Through Catholic Charities, young women and men receive school and home-based management services, which include monitoring school attendance and grades. ECHO case managers help the students set goals, and provide them with the support and resources necessary to achieve them. ECHO staff also work closely with parents, administrators, teachers, and guidance counselors to keep these teens in school so they can graduate.

ECHO case managers generally start with finishing their HSE (formerly GED) or high-school diploma. They also help them find a job, and even obtain scholarships and grants for college. Our staff works in cooperation with officials in Fort Wayne Community and East Allen County school districts, and in South Bend with the South Bend Community Schools Corporation.

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