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Waco nonprofit helps homeless youth graduate high school

The Cove Waco - Heart of Texas

Since 2016, the Cove in Waco has helped 104 homeless students graduate high school. The nonprofit provides a stable environment for youths aged 14 to 18 who are experiencing homelessness, giving them access essential resources. In 2023, the Cove supported 146 high school students facing homelessness.

High school graduation is right around the corner for many Waco youths. But for some students, getting that diploma can be a tremendous challenge.

TIM PACKER: “If you don’t meet that threshold for graduating high school, the impact on the rest of your life is pretty significant. Not graduating high school means you’re about three and a half to four and a half times as likely to experience homelessness as an adult.”

Tim Packer is the executive director of the Cove, a Waco non-profit that provides homeless youths with a safe space to find housing solutions, get a warm meal and help with graduating high school.

TIM PACKER: “One of the key things we look for, and we encourage school staff to look for, is when there is a sudden change in a student's attendance at school.”

With school absence being one of the main effects of youth homelessness, the Cove partners with local school districts such as Waco, La Vega, and Midway ISD, in an attendance recovery program. For every one hour of productive work at the Cove, a student can earn three credit hours back.

TIM PACKER: “We talk a lot about helping our youth to lift their heads to see beyond the present, to build plans about how they might reach that positive next step.”

Leading up to the 2024 graduation season, The Cove provided tutoring in both English and Spanish and assisted students with college preparation, such as filling out applications, touring local colleges and applying for financial aid.

This year, The Cove served 146 homeless youths. At the end of May, 17 of them will graduate high school.

TIM PACKER: “We’ve done a tour out at McLennan Community College already for students this year and we’ve got a tour with Texas State Technical College coming up.”

The Cove provides more than just academic services, they supply youths with basic necessities like clothing and hygiene items. They’re open Monday through Friday and walk-ins are welcome.

If you or someone you know is a youth experiencing homelessness, visit