Something interesting happened to me yesterday and it has made me think a lot over the last 36 hours. I often take the bus to work in downtown Madison, WI and when I do, I go to the bus stop at the top of the hill for a little morning walk. Yesterday morning, I was running late so I went to the closer stop for the first time.
I got there at the same time as another guy, and did the casual chit chat about the weather and taking the bus. He then realized that he didn’t have cash to take the bus to his job interview and luckily I had cash on me. I gave Bill (not his real name but for now we will call him Bill) the $2 for the bus and when the bus arrived we sat together. Bill told me his story. He was a recovering addict that had gone thru Hell and back and had hit the proverbial rock bottom before he decided to get his life turned around.
We talked all the way until I got off the bus near downtown. Bill wants to teach others how to get better and how to live life. We talked about him doing seminars or presentations and I told him I would love to help him. Where I work, there are always presentations of some sort going on and I told him to put together a 30 minute talk and we would try to get him an audience.
Before our ride together ended, Bill told me that he had done some programming before after I told him what I did for a living. Bill said he might look into programming again and asked for some guidance. I gave him my email address and told him to email me sometime.
That afternoon, Bill emailed me and said he was really thinking about getting back into programming know that his seminar/public speaking would not pay the bills in the immediate future. I gave him some ideas. And then I got to thinking. A lot.
I have had the fortune to become a web developer and I love what I do. I have also had great success in teaching others how to program. I have had a several interns in the past and all but one is still doing web development. In fact, I have applied to work with a couple of people that were once my interns and are now leading their own teams and very successful. In fact, I enjoy working with interns more than well experienced and very opinionated developers.
Then it hit me. I want to help others learn web development, but not just anybody. I want to help those that cannot pay to learn web development. I want to teach recovering addicts learn how to become web developers. It is one industry that people without a college degree can become very successful. I also work in the startup world and have access to places looking to hire interns.
I started talking to coworkers and others and I was happy to hear that they thought it would be a great thing to do. Then I thought, why not more people that could use help. I contacted a homeless shelter in town to see if they thought it would maybe be a good idea for homeless people. Or what about other underrepresented people that cannot afford to go to a web development class/school.
Here is where I want your help. I originally was thinking that I should go with a non-profit so that I could get people to donate laptops/computers but was told it was difficult to setup a non profit. I am not thinking to do this to make money so I am just trying to figure out the best way to do this whether that be a LLC or non-profit or something else.
I envision getting donations to maybe pay for some coding schools tuitions. I want to help people learn new skills that can make them good money and maybe give them a second chance in life.
Does this sound like something that people would like to donate to or volunteer for? Does this sound like a great idea or a total waste of time. Will people be interested in taking free classes and learning a marketable skill. What do you think?