What ended the story with the homeless programmer

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I decided to find out from the original sources how the story began, developed and ended about how the programmer taught the homeless. I even flipped through the entire group in the FB with the project logs (there are too many details to post on Habré). The most illustrative moments are in three articles on the Medium of the experiment initiator Patrick MacConlog.

Article 1, August 21, 2013

We find people unfairly left homeless and teach them programming.

[ Source ]


Every day, working in New York, you see homeless people. Some are crazy, some are drunk, some just beg for a salary.

However, I like to think that sometimes I see a kind of puzzle. This is the feeling that you get, knowing that the waiter, cashier, janitor is not in his place - that they are smart, even brilliant people. This is my attempt to fix one of the lost parts of this puzzle.

Every day, on my way to work, I walk past a homeless man who lives with Hudson. He is young, he may be 28, I will call him "hired hacker" until I know his real name.

Before you think that this is some kind of strange experiment "in everyone's mind," I must say that when he looks at you, it is clear that he lost a series of battles.

Step one. Drive

... this morning I saw the first step. He found the chains and swayed, throwing them by the neck. Empathy is not my strong point, but my too-small heart sank a little when I saw it. It was an epic drive, this homeless guy with chains around his neck, fighting to not give up. A scene worthy of a movie poster. It was a drive.

Step two. Patience

I'm going to step up and talk to the guy who is part of the puzzle. You should know that I am a software engineer working in a kind of technical bubble, and this skill is in great demand.

The idea is simple. Without humiliating him, I offer him two options:

  1. I'll be back tomorrow and give him $ 100 in cash.
  2. I'll be back tomorrow and give him three books on javascript, (beginner-advanced-expert) and super cheap regular laptop. Then I will come an hour earlier before work, when he feels ready, and teach him how to program.

What do you think he will choose? And do you have any other suggestions / tools that he will need? Email me if you have an idea, pmcconlogue [at] gmail.com

I will tell you on the Medium readers that he answered the day after tomorrow.

Step three. Run

Best wishes Patrick McConlog

Article 2, August 22, 2013

UPDATED: Money <Education

[ Source ]


"Leo refuses money for the opportunity to learn how to program."

I would not write about the homeless, politics or judgments, I would write about the power of one. I would write about the gift of education, and, most importantly, I would have been endowed with hope.

Yesterday, the Internet exploded after my blog post, in which I talked about my plan to offer to help a person with a simple question,

  • Option number 1: I will give you $ 100 in cash.
  • Option number 2: Tomorrow I will be back with a simple laptop and three programming programming books. Then I will come an hour before work begins, and I will teach you how to become a programmer.

Within an hour, TechCrunch, Washington Post, Huffington Post intervened in the conversation. People sent emails, commented, published both positive and negative reviews, criticized this idea, me, opinions, etc. Except for all this, most people were wholeheartedly for this idea. It is wonderful.

Think about it before they pass by nameless people ... they might be Leo.

It turns out that Leo is a genius, especially concerned about environmental issues. As I sat, increasingly shaken, he brought down import / export prices for food, the importance of solar and clean energy and his approval of “efficient public transport initiatives [referring to the new Citibike in New York]”. He is intelligent, eloquent and able to think logically. Most importantly, he is serious. Whether loyalty is considered one of his talents is up to him to decide.

Next step…


First, according to our agreement, over the next two months I will come to work an hour earlier to meet with him and teach programming.

I am overnighting this gear ::

  • Samsung Chromebook with 3G (access to code academy, etc.).
  • Newbie: "javascript for beginners"
  • Intermediate level: "The secrets of JavaScript Ninja"
  • Advanced level: "Javascript the Good Parts"
  • Solar charger for laptop.
  • Something to hide a laptop. (Does anyone have any ideas? Email me: pmcconlogue [at] gmail.com)

Mitap in New York to build connections, empowerment campaign

Secondly, we are going to hold a public “meeting” for those of you who are in New York to discuss some press and public reviews, focusing on what to do. I think this would be a good meeting place for non-profit organizations that also speak on the problem of homelessness. If you have a place that you would like to allow us to use during the evening, please contact me: pmcconlogue [at] gmail.com.

One of the ideas that was proposed by several people and we will discuss it is the launch of the Kickstarter campaign. for collecting money for office space and a temporary home.

Stay up to date , subscribe to my Facebook page .

Third, regardless of the opinion of people, questions aside, Leo accepted the challenge. The story will continue here on Medium, or on his new Facebook page, which he will register for himself.

The next post, we will hear directly from Leo.


Patrick McConlog

PS: For those of you who sent emails with ideas, I promise to respond to everyone as quickly as possible. Your ideas and feedback are not just helpful, they are incredibly important.

PPS: Some reviews on the Internet ...

Washington You the Post
«Give a Man a Fish And of He'll Eat For A Day, Offer to the Teach a Man to Code and You're Kind of a Jerk»

The Huffington the Post
«By Patrick McConlogue, the Startup Founder, Suggests Homeless Less Learn the To Code, Is Shocked By Backlash»

«Tech the gets IT's own Model Proposal Proposal»

Business Insider
«NYC the Programmer Defends a His Plan the To the Teach A Homeless Guy How the To Code of After the Getting Blasted with In of The Press Yesterday ".

PPS: Some reviews from people ...

  • "Very interesting! With all my heart I will hope that he will take advantage of this opportunity, and not with money ... ”
  • “Hi Patrick, I would also like to know about programming. I quickly learn, only now I work all the time. I work 7 days a week and do one job for 3 years, but I need a good job ... I'm tired of not having a good job. ”
  • “Considering that I am homeless and part-time founder and chief executive officer of a technical startup who is on the verge of success ... this is my topic. Damn it, I meet with VC this Friday, and I go to great lengths to maintain my appearance, feelings and attitude towards the project. ”
  • “It's fascinating, I hope that he will take a laptop and books, but you did not confirm his motivation to study or his motivation to acquire material things”

Article 3. April 8, 2014

The impact of technology on your life and how to think about the future (Apr 8, 2014)

[ Source ]


To understand what you missed, watch this video:

Every day, on the way to work, I passed an abandoned building. Iron stuck to the beams, broken windows, and a loading area that leads into darkness, give this place a gloomy view of a forgotten building. A man living on the streets was sitting outside the building. Every time I walked past him, something bothered me, something was next to him. It seemed to be sitting with him; maybe drive? Mind? What was it?

Once, when I approached the building, I stopped. The man was trying to arrange a training session, the chains from the dock, pulled out of the water, were on his neck. Relying on the side of the pipeline and the fence, trying his best, he tried to raise them.

“Okay, I have to do something,” I thought to myself. All this somehow does not converge. By the time I came to work, I thought about how to hide my help in the power of choice. You see, my mother is a lawyer, and one of the things that impressed us when we were children was that you couldn’t impose your version of helping people, so I decided to suggest choosing what he thought would help him.

“Every morning I’ll come an hour earlier, and on a cheap laptop with three books on javascript I’ll teach you how to program. Or, I will give you $ 100 in cash, no questions asked.

I was concerned that if he wanted to program, his laptop could be dangerous for him, and as a blogger, I thought I would ask for advice on how to hide it on the Internet, so I wrote my plan to ask him a question the next day.

Fast forward


December 10th. 2013 at 12:05 Leo Grand presents the application "Trees for cars." Acknowledgment: Mashable

December 9, twice lingering, “Trees for Cars”, the Leo Grand app starts at 12:01. We still worked on bugs all day, and we both barely slept. Leo was thrown out of the tent (a gift from Logan) the night before, and I spent all my free time in the last five weeks to work with him full time. Weekend, 10 hours a day, we worked, pushed his cart through the snow, we worked. Over every line he has programmed.

At 9 pm, the office we worked in was empty, and in the last 15 years, the coldest winter in New York has been. The team from Mashable and our friend Fran Berkham met us at 23:00 so as not to miss the launch of the film. The car took Leo at 12:30 to make sure that he gets into the UK studio.

Noise, press, application, Leo, homelessness, thousands of letters. It's like being in a boxing ring. Heavy, very heavy load on my shoulders. Thoughts and ideas began to turn into a mess, and the information turned into ..., like the sales of the application.

Fast forward


It was January 24, 2014, circling my boss (and friend), John Katzman, said: “You are adding problems to yourself, leaving, right now you have two problems: Leo will not receive an identity document, and people are inspired. "When we turned the corner, I stopped and, while I was breathing, said:" I can no longer, dude, I have to stop. " I meant running distance. He put his hand on my shoulder and said:
"Come on, finish the circle."
We ran.

First, I tried to solve the problem of housing, using the income from this application Leo can get a small studio for several months. And if he goes to a programming school, he can learn to be a good enough programmer to get a job. Already, incredible names whispered that they would take it with joy. Homeless shelters are not what you think, and not one of them was interested in allowing him to live there. The amazing girl offered to let him use his studio, but she soon disappeared.

Leo does not have a legal form of an identification document, one of the many major problems that I discovered. In addition, psychological reasons kept him from receiving an identity card.
"Welcome to Casa de Leo"
It became an obsession in my head, if we just had a shelter, Leo could get on his feet. No one believes that launching an application is a “life-changing event,” in fact, Leo needed an infrastructure with a community of services that supported various problems. And I needed time to build this infrastructure. Shelters, counselors and rehabilitation programs could not help, but he could only do something if I was standing next to him.

Therefore, if I can’t get him to write programs, I’ll be near him. One night when we were pushing his cart, I asked him about the worst thing about being homeless? Leo stopped, turned around and said ...

"It's lonely."

Fast forward


America The Free is a two-month programming course to reprogram your life.

Today, I sit at a table in San Francisco, in a city that is trying to help thousands of homeless people on its streets.

I would like to talk about something that I call America the free. It will be a two-month programming course and a school of life in a common home. Blended with programming are lectures on financial management, individual counseling and placement programs. The goal would be to openly share all the problems that need to be solved, a kind of “all-in-one” guide to changing every life.
Partners in five key areas with tools that people need to develop. Education (programming), banking and finance, legal advice, instruction and placement.
Instead of focusing on the hype or “scales”, we do what we do better and focus on a few. The first class of students will consist of only 10 people, and they will tell their stories as they progress. This would be a program not only for the homeless, but also for 10 people who need it, and it would demonstrate for the observing world how with the power of the Internet in your hands you can change your life.
School, which includes accommodation.
We would try it once to see if that would help. Leo would be the first student. Let's finish this circle.

It's Easter now, Leo and I are going to church together, if you like, join us. As always, the rest of the story is on Facebook .


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