2010 Idea Award Winner

Teach, Learn and Earn

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This project aims to tackle homelessness in Austin by focusing on people’s existing skills, shifting the emphasis from what they need to what they have to offer. The current system makes people feel helpless, indirectly hurting their emotional abilities to get back on their feet. A new system is needed to give people experiencing homelessness an opportunity not only to receive help, but to help. Our project intends to set up the infrastructure for these individuals to get paid to hold classes and teach what they know. By doing so, we shift their self perceptions as well as the public perception of homelessness.

Alex Pappas & Ruby Ku

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May 30, 2013
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One of the primary marketing channels for participants to post and sign up for classes.
Participants can browse available classes. View can be filtered by location, cost, time of day, and category.
Detailed view of each course, including other user-generated content such as reviews and ratings.
Co-working spaces will be considered as part of our implementation plan to further collaboration and learning.

Close to 10,000 people in Austin are homeless. Contrary to general perceptions, many are homeless due to factors beyond their control - recession, natural disasters, or divorce. Currently most social services take a hand out approach, indirectly demotivating individuals and undermining their abilities to help themselves.


Many homeless individuals not only possess unique skills that they share with others, they do this as a mean to give back, feel valued, and belong. By providing a platform for them to teach, learn, and earn income; we are fulfilling their financial and emotional needs while changing the public perception of homelessness.