Navigating a new country can be difficult and women often face financial and social challenges. ECHO Collective is a Lincoln-based nonprofit that helps refugee and immigrant women overcome these barriers.

ECHO Collective’s programs aim to help women overcome language challenges they may face, while working to help them feel welcome in their community. ECHO Collective promotes women’s economic and social success through programs such as The Refinery, which offers refugee and immigrant women the opportunity to achieve economic independence and build social capital through business education and professional mentorships.

Some of the companies that have emerged include The Movement Fitness Club, which focuses on health and fitness to help women stay fit and feel good about themselves. ECHO’s programs have also helped Pure August Design, a company that designs dresses for girls and women of all ages that combine traditional Karen fabric from its culture with modern clothing design.

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Refinery does not try to assimilate women into American culture, but rather finds a way for the culture of these women to intertwine with the American economic system, creating a new and fresh perspective in transition programs. Its authenticity lies in the partnership nature that ECHO maintains between its programs and women.

Second anniversary celebration

This fall, ECHO Collective celebrated its second anniversary. This event consisted of a collaboration between the founders of the organization and clients who participated in the programming. The event highlighted the beauty of cultural and entrepreneurial diversity. These included fun activities such as international dance class demonstrations, hair braiding with Raquel, and free desserts from refinery businesswomen.

It was a celebration of achievement for both director Kelly Ross and the immigrant and refugee women of Lincoln.

“ECHO Collective brings hope for a brighter future to creative, entrepreneurial refugees and immigrant women,” said Ross. “We have developed strong bonds with these women we serve and weave intricate tapestries of friendship to foster safety and belonging.”

ECHO Collective has proven that women can thrive and excel in any environment if given education and guidance. The anniversary celebration served as a reminder of the importance of organizations like ECHO Collective in our communities. It exists as a refuge for immigrant and refugee women who need a place to feel safe, welcomed and accepted.

To learn more about the work done by ECHO Collective, visit https://echocollectivene.org/ and watch for a cover story in December’s L magazine, which will be distributed on November 27.