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Hey Jesse,

I'm also formerly homeless, and now the cofounder of https://LambdaSchool.com (YC S17). We have a nonprofit fund designed specifically to help out homeless software engineers looking for a job.

I'd love to put you in a cheap airbnb or apartment, hook you up with Lambda School's career services team who will help review your resume, get your github and portfolio in shape, practice interviewing, and help you land a job. We've already seen multiple success stories (for example David https://www.kron4.com/news/bay-area/homeless-man-handing-out..., who is now making almost $100k/yr).

Generous donors have allowed us to continue to grow the fund after Lambda School's original $50,000 contribution.

I know how hard it is to focus on getting a job when you're just trying to survive, so let's try to eliminate that distraction. Hit me up at austen@lambdaschool.com and let's help you focus and get to where you need to be.

PS if anyone on HN wants to donate to the fund it's here - https://www.gofundme.com/lambda-perpetual-access-fund. Generally we can help someone who knows how to write code go from homeless to hired with a couple thousand dollars all-in.

I am so happy to read this. I will reach out momentarily.

Awesome! Fair warning, I'm heading out for the night, so if I don't get back to you immediately that's why. Will get back late tonight.

Sorry about the thread highjacking! But do you work internationally, like all the way in the middle east? I'm one of the local dev community leaders in my country, and there is just so much space for proper training and education, also a huge supply of fresh out of CS school youngsters who have no idea what to do in a troubled country with an education system that's stuck in the 90s.

So I would like to ask you a few questions if you allow me to shoot you an email? :)

who have no idea what to do in a troubled country with an education system that's stuck in the 90s.


Years ago, I read a book about the program. It's designed to educate people in terrible circumstances. I am thinking you might find it a useful resource. Among other things, they designed a schedule that helped minimize the damage from missed sessions, iirc.



My email is in profile. Please email and I'll try to link you up with friends in MENA and in the US and look for opportunities where you can cooperate.

Sure, check your inbox :)

We’re mostly in the US for now, need to figure out regulation and income verification + markets overseas. Soon.

Oh, that's unfortunate, Thank you :)

I listened to the A16Z podcast recently on the refugee crises in Syria[1] where they talk about a generation of people that will have missed out on secondary education due to the war there. I'd be curious to know what positive actions you've seen taken (or heard of) that can help address the issue?


I'm not Syrian, I'm Iraqi, and I can assure you the issue is bigger than that around here (most middle east)

The only positive(ish) thing I know of is a Bootcamp they do in northern Iraq for Iraqi(ISIS crisis) and Syrian refugees that teach them how to code, but it's most basic stuff that bearly qualify you for an interview but no more.

The problem with these international organization is that they sponsor local educational entities to do the teaching and training... and 99% of them are not even qualified to work in the industry (tech as an example), I know a young girl certified by the "IEEE young professionals", with local & international charities sponsorships, who teaches girls how to code, and her classroom slides are full of errors... in HTML... structure and spelling mistakes all over the place :'(

Learning a new language (english) is difficult enough, but to learn to program a computer at the same time seems a lot to ask of children.

If software engineering is a sensible way out, would something like Qalb be a better starting point for learning core fundamentals?

The reason for asking the question comes from a "what can I do to help standpoint". Throwing money over the fence is often the only answer I receive to that question but from my own naive perspective it seems that billions in aid haven't made much of a (self-sustaining) dent. However if a language like Qalb were actively used I could imagine contributing to its development - perhaps making it more elm-like so it compiles into javascript?

English is not the problem, this is a huge misconception at least in Iraq, the girl I mention? shes a CS college student who already studied C++, C# and whatever they teach... in English, her students? the are CS graduates or even already employed women with interest in tech. they know English they already watch tutorials on Udemy and youtube etc... in English

Qalb and Noor languages etc.. are only good to help kickstart the logical thinking for poor kids with next to 0 education.

In Iraq, for example, the TOEFL, IELTS, CISCO, and Microtek entry-level certificates are the most common "resume fillers" all English

Thats not ideal, off course, but surely better than no education?

The traditional education is the problem, most of the students in the activities I mentioned above are university students or already graduated. the majority are not uneducated refugees as you think.

What’s the level of English proficiency?

The level varies but in general, the young Iraqis are Hollywood addicts xD, so I would say it's decent, some are really good and some need a little bit practice.

All mentors/leaders are easily on the high side

Cool! But... I've taken a look at the curriculum and the question popped up immediately: what if a person already knows a fair portion of the subjects like basic HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Python, C/C++/C# and Java and has even developed some simple websites using pure vanilla HTML+CCS+JS+PHP in their past (and has experience in building and fixing PCs) and just has no skills in computer science and in how the things are cooked together in modern-day production coding? You say you teach from absolute zero, is it possible to skip "this is a HTML tag", "this is a variable" and "print 10 even numbers in the console in a for loop" parts?

Yes. That stuff all happens in our pre-course work, which you can test out of.

Hi Jesse,

Tagging here onto Austen’s thread (for reasons you’ll see below). My startup’s public benefit corporation mission (separate from our product mission) is to hire people in positions such as yours. Gentrification (→ high rents where jobs are located) as well as an unequal economic system (wealth inequality, selective inheritances, etc.) have made your position a challenging one.

About to sign an Apprenticeship Agreement with a woman to whom I’ll be providing free room & board, along with a living stipend, so that she can participate in Austen’s Lambda School full-time Web Dev track. After graduation, she’ll have a chance to participate for another half year as an apprentice, at the end of which I’ll offer her (pending qualification) a position with substantial equity as a Junior Software Engineer (50% of the company is reserved for contributors).

Might you be interested in being added as a fully paid apprentice (remote) after you graduate? It would also entail a highly likely position as a Junior Software Engineer (also remote) with equity on successful completion of the apprenticeship.




They ended up helping me get a vehicle which will help me get a job here. I have a few projects which are bringing in funds in the meantime. I'd love to talk about a paid apprenticeship if you're still interested.

Thanks, Jesse

His github portfolio is in perfect shape already. He is an expert Lua coder who created his own language interpreter.

Indeed, but that’s not obvious unless you dig through his projects. It’s easy to make that clear.

Could I recommend someone? I made a comment below about Mani, whom I met when I was volunteering at our local library.

Just saw the comment. Can you send me more details about him, and we can figure out the best way to help him? austen@lambdaschool.com.

Seems like he has housing, but I'll do anything I can to help someone who has enough hustle to be at a library all the time.

Easiest might be that we provide a computer, internet, and can give him self-paced access to our course archives (normally reserved for student review).

Is this open to Canadians? A friend is considering a coding boot camp and it seems like a lot of money upfront.

Also how do the success rates compare?

https://lambdaschool.com/outcomes are our outcomes - not bad at all for a free-upfront school. We see about one student hired per day at this point.

To be clear, we can do better. Our company-wide goal is 90% hired within 90 days. More work to do.

We're still working on Canada; have him/her email me austen@lambdaschool.com

Thanks. This model seems much less predatory as you have a stake in their success.

The school they are considering has a 97% success rate which seems too good to be true.

...what school is that? Sounds like classic code bootcamp accounting where they do something funny with the denominator

I don't think this is the place but they boast 96% employment of which 97% are in tech.

They must be fudging something.


Thankfully, that page also links to their 'transparency report', which provides some of the raw numbers.

The 96% you state is 237/247. Numerator is grads who accepted employment within 120 days. Denominator is grads who were unemployed and working with the bootcamp's career programme.

But only 76 of those 237 were regular full-time positions. Another 78 were apprenticeships which led to full time employment.

The total number of grads was 388 (i.e. much higher than the 247 denominator).

The least generous ratio you can come up with from the supplied figures is 76 (# full-time jobs) * 97% (% technical) / 388 (# grads), which gives 19%.

Gotta love bootcamp accounting.

Personally I’d count apprenticeships; getting your foot in the door is generally the hardest part. That gives a meh 64.9%.

Not far off most bootcamps to be honest, but a far cry from 97%.

If you count the apprenticeships that resulted in a full time job at the same place (i.e. where it got the person a foot in the door), then the numerator is 76+78=154

That's 40% of 388 total grads.

Ok I take it back that’s still really bad

Thanks! I didn't notice that they would send you a report.

It's nice that they provide it. I understand why they use such misleading statistics, it just hard to trust people that do.

What was David's education and career before entering Lambda School? What languages or frameworks does he use now for his job? Are any of the graduates working remotely or do most SW jobs require going to a daily office?

David wasn’t a Lambda School student, he was just an engineer that ran out of cash looking for a job.

Some of our grads work remotely but those roles are difficult to find and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend them as a fresh new engineer.

Hi austenallred , this is music to my ears. Have you ever thought of starting branches outside US(India in particular)? Here Udacity is trying to do the same but they are damn costly as per Indian standards.

Actively working on it

What about changing your model to take a cut of the jobs people end up with? Then you'd end up being self sustainable. Recruiters take about a 20%, so with your one guy getting 100k you could help 10 more.

That's generally Lambda School's model - we train people to be software engineers for no upfront tuition in exchange for a share of future income for two years. We also have experiments running with housing and living stipends in exchange for a share of future income for three years.

However, I consider recommending that to someone who is homeless and/or destitute exploitative. I can't put my finger on why, but knowing how desperate you can feel in that scenario I don't feel OK turning that into a money-making (or even transactional) scenario.

We've found that the folks who are hired and now-housed tend to donate enough to keep the fund alive once they're on their feet, but I don't feel right requiring it.

> We've found that the folks who are hired and now-housed tend to donate enough to keep the fund alive once they're on their feet, but I don't feel right requiring it.

That is awesome on both sides :).

Have you explored a social impact bond funding model for such people?

No, I’m sure there are 100 clever ways to fund this I haven’t considered, but I haven’t had the time to explore it.

Hi Austen, your GoFundMe link is pointing to the wrong page. It should be https://www.gofundme.com/lambda-perpetual-access-fund

Thank you!

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