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Leo the Homeless Coder wants to help you carpool

A homeless man had the option to take $100, or learn to code – he decided on the latter, and this is what he made.


Sarah Weber


In August, Leo Grand was given a choice.

The homeless New Yorker could take $100 or an opportunity to learn how to code. If he took the money, it would be spent by now and you wouldn’t be reading this story. Instead, he took a gamble on a path that could lead to higher reward.

And today, that reward comes to fruition. Leo’s app Trees for Cars is available for iOS and Android for 99 cents.

Leo’s story has been closely followed by Caroline Moss of Business Insider ever since Patrick McConlogue, a young programmer, gave Leo the money-or-coding offer. McConlogue bought Leo a refurbished Samsung Chromebook and spent an hour each weekday morning giving him a crash course in coding.

While there were doubters among the thousands who followed the experiment as it gained national media attention, many supporters on Facebook praised the effort as a source of inspiration.

“So impressed by Leo’s story, I felt compelled to start in on JavaScript on Code Academy… Dunno [sic] if I’ll be any good at it, but it’s something I always wanted to learn and can’t think of many excuses not to,” Joey Basu wrote on a Facebook post previewing the app release.

Trees for Cars is a mobile app that connects people for carpooling in an effort to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. When you share a ride, the app tells what you saved in emissions and gives you the opportunity to compete with other users for the most savings.

As of publication time, the app had more than 50 reviews between the two app stores, almost all of them positive. More than one person mentioned in reviews or on Facebook that they were buying the app to support Leo, despite living in rural areas where they wouldn’t be able to use it.

In a promotional YouTube video (with, we’ll warn you, pretty bad audio), Leo explained his app. “It’s a mobile app about saving the environment, bringing communities together, saving the world, and the best part: saving money in your pocket,” he says.



H/T Business Insider | Screengrab via  Patrick McConlogue/YouTube

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