The story of a homeless man learning to code has made news around the country, demonstrating how teaching the poor can often be more beneficial than monetary donations.
This month, Leo Grand, a 36-year-old homeless man from Queens, New York, launched his first mobile app "Trees for Cars," designed to get people to carpool and reduce air pollution. Grand built and completed the app in 109 days, and aims to help save the environment through his new technology.
If this sounds like a phenomenal feat for someone living on the streets, it is, and it came through the assistance and vision of a 23-year-old computer programmer and Good Samaritan named Patrick McConlogue.
Four months ago, McConlogue reached out to Grand, and offered to help him through one of two donations: $100 cash or an hour a day of time to teach Grand how to code. According to Yahoo! News, Grand had been homeless since 2011 after he lost his job at MetLife and was priced out of his neighborhood. Without hesitation, Grand chose the latter option.
Together, McConlongue and Grand began a journey to educate, create and change the world through their unique partnership. During those months, the two men met every weekday for an hour in the spot on the street where Grand slept. McConlogue taught Grand how to program, and Grand soon began developing his app. Fifty-thousand Facebook fans followed their mission online.
The result was "Trees for Cars," which helps users carpool to their destinations. Grand programmed the entire app himself from the streets of Manhattan with just 16 weeks of coding lessons. To use, a driver chooses a meeting address and the app suggests nearby riders. Then, each rider and driver are connected if they mutually accept invitations. The app also tracks how much CO2 was saved in the process.
"If you've been blessed with a talent or skill… pay it forward, teach somebody something. Even if you help just one person, the fact that you even tried is a step in the right direction," Grand says, reports WDBJ7.com.
All of the money the developers receive from this app goes to Grand, who will use it to further his programming education.