freeCodeCamp: Learn to code and help nonprofits

Two thousand and eighty hours of coding is all you need to land your first coding job, with freeCodeCamp you can do it all for free and also help nonprofits.

by Nikhil Sreekandan

The nonprofit organisation freeCodeCamp has been around for quite some time now, having been established 1,056 days ago to be exact. freeCodeCamp, in short, are a community that helps you to learn to code and then get experience by contributing to open source projects used by non-profits.

Completely ‘free’ as the name suggests, freeCodeCamp has seen itself pull in a massive audience, with an approximate of a million users learning about coding and technology every month from their learning platform, by reading their Medium publication, through subscribing to their YouTube channel and by participating in their vibrant community forum.

Founded in 2014 by Quincy Larson, who used to work as a teacher at various schools and as a software engineer at various companies, today he is just one of the contributors at freeCodeCamp. The donor-supported nonprofit has grown in massive bounds over the years, now boasting a community of more than a million campers and driven by the contributions of thousands of passionate volunteers.

freeCodeCamp offers 800 hours worth of coding practice to complete for its students. Beginning with tutorials that introduce students to HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and then on to intermediate front-end development, and advanced algorithm scripting. The lessons are extremely interactive and take place in a very clean and simple interface.

Students type their code in the white text editor in the middle of the screen and can watch the result of their code real time on a mock mobile screen on the right side. The left side gives a run down of what your objectives are for the test and once you run a functional code it gets ticked off and you can move to the next one. You can ask for a hint or ask for help in the forum which is a very active space with coders helping each other and collaborating together.

What sets freeCodeCamp apart from the many other Massive Open Online  Courses(MOOCs) out there is the fact that it provides you with the experience of coding in the real world. Once you have earned your Front End Development, Data Visualization, and Back End Development certifications, it directs you towards a nonprofit project you can join where you can use the coding knowledge you’ve gained for the benefit of the world.

After completing 1, 200 hours of coding challenges, for your first project, you will choose a fellow camper as your partner and the both of you will work together for the nonprofit project. The projects usually run roughly up to 200 hours or about 10 weeks at 20 hours per week of development per camper.

Initially, there will be a meeting with a representative from freeCodeCamp, the two campers and the stakeholder of the nonprofit project. This lengthy process serves an important purpose: it reduces the likelihood that any of our campers or stakeholders will waste their precious time.

Your nonprofit stakeholder, your partner, and the freeCodeCamp volunteer team are all counting on you to finish your nonprofit project. If you walk away from an unfinished nonprofit project, you’ll become ineligible to ever be assigned another one. To confirm that you understand the seriousness of this commitment, freeCodeCamp will require you to sign a pledge before starting your nonprofit project.

So far, freeCodeCamp has donated 30 projects for nonprofits (read: US$1,400,000 worth of development work ), more than 6,000 campers have got their first coding jobs and more than 8,000 experienced developers have gotten even better developer jobs.

The community is funded by donations, but apart from helping out with money, one can also contribute by helping other campers by answering their queries, giving feedback on camper projects, adding subtitles to their YouTube videos, researching and writing guide articles, and of course, if you are proficient enough, by contributing to the codebase.

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