Official freeCodeCamp logo
|Motto||Learn to code and help nonprofits.|
San Francisco, California
|Legal status||501(c)(3) nonprofit|
|Purpose||Education and nonprofit work|
freeCodeCamp was launched in October 2014 and incorporated as Free Code Camp, Inc. The founder, Quincy Larson, is a software developer who took up programming after graduate school and created freeCodeCamp as a way to streamline a student's progress from beginner to being job-ready. In a 2015 podcast interview, he summarized his motivation for creating freeCodeCamp as follows: “freeCodeCamp is my effort to correct the extremely inefficient and circuitous way I learned to code. I’m committing my career and the rest of my life towards making this process as efficient and painless as possible. […] All those things that made learning to code a nightmare to me are things that we are trying to fix with freeCodeCamp.”
The original curriculum focused on MongoDB, Express.js, AngularJS, and Node.js and was estimated to take 800 hours to complete. Many of the lessons were links to free material on other platforms, such as Codecademy, Stanford, or Code School. The course was broken up into “Waypoints” (quick, interactive tutorials), “Bonfires” (algorithm challenges), “Ziplines” (front-end projects), and “Basejumps” (full-stack projects). Completing the front-end and full-stack projects awarded the student with respective certificates.
The curriculum was updated in January 2016 to rely less on outside material, remove the unconventional section names, and switch focus from AngularJS to React.js as the front-end library of choice. There were a number of additions to the coursework, including D3.js and Sass, which brought the total time estimate to 2,080 hours and two more certificates, data visualization and back-end.
After returning from a trip to China, Larson was inspired to launch freeCodeCamp by seeing a young boy's interest towards coding. And he decided to give people the opportunity to learn programming. After six years living in San Francisco, Larson now lives in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
The curriculum emphasizes pair programming, intended to foster a culture of collaboration and shared learning, which can overcome a student's doubts about the adequacy of their skills (popularly referred to as “impostor syndrome”).
As students of freeCodeCamp finish all certificates of the curriculum, they get the opportunity, and are encouraged, to work with nonprofit organizations. Examples have been Indonesia-based nonprofit Kopernik and People Saving Animals.
In 2016, freeCodeCamp announced their "Open Source for Good" initiative, which extends and open sources their nonprofit work to all nonprofits and organizations to use. Within ten months of launching, the initiative has created seven open-source tools. Mail for Good is one of the projects, which helps organizations send bulk email messages at a low cost, which serves as a cheaper alternative to services such as MailChimp.
freeCodeCamp's platform is used by about 350,000 unique visitors per month, with students from over 160 countries. According to Alexa, freeCodeCamp is ranked around 2,150 globally and around 1,290 in the United States in terms of monthly traffic.
freeCodeCamp has international, community-run groups where students can interact in person. Some groups have been featured in local news, citing freeCodeCamp as an introduction to programming in order to fill the estimated vacancy in programming-related jobs in the next decade.
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