Rapper and entrepreneur Shawn Carter, better known as Jay-Z, is leading Bitcoin in the place where he grew up. On Thursday, Jay-Z and former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced the launch of Bitcoin Academywhich will offer free cryptocurrency lessons for residents of the Marcy Houses in Brooklyn, New York.
“Bitcoin Academy, starting with Marcy, a place that taught me so much, I hope it is the first of many”, Jay-Z he wrote on Twitter. “The simple goal is to provide people with the tools to build independence for themselves and therefore for the community around them.”
The academy aims to educate residents of the Brooklyn-based social housing complex where Jay-Z was born and raised, particularly on Bitcoin, and help them become more financially aware in general. The lectures will be taught by Lamar Wilson, founder of Black Bitcoin Billionaire, and Najah J. Roberts, founder of Crypto Blockchain Plug in Inglewood, California. Residents can sign up via the Bitcoin Academy website by simply providing their basic information and apartment number. Thereafter, they will have access to in-person and virtual lessons which will be held from 22 June to 7 September. There is also a Crypto Kids Camp program that will take place over two Saturdays for children and teens ages 5-17.
The cryptocurrency is available via online exchanges, which is why the Bitcoin Academy will provide a MiFi connection, as well as a one-year limited data plan and a smartphone if needed to those attending classes. The initiative is funded by Jay-Z, Dorsey, as well as the Shawn Carter Foundation and Block (Dorsey’s crypto services company formerly known as Square).
Bitcoin may not be at its best right now, but some believe in the value cryptocurrency could have for communities deprived of civil rights or for those with a lack of access to other forms of financial investment. A she studies University of Chicago NORC found that most cryptocurrency investors are under the age of 40 and have no college degree, plus 44% of cryptocurrency traders are black investors.
But while an open-to-all network for digital currency may be the ideal vision for Bitcoin, the reality is a little different. A a group of researchers recently analyzed data on cryptocurrencyand found that while it should be decentralized, cryptocurrency is actually a system backed by a small minority.
It is still unclear what the future of Bitcoin holds as the digital currency is still taking shape and whether engaging more members of low-income neighborhoods could potentially unlock the true potential of the cryptocurrency or whether it could pose a financial risk to them.
Jay-Z is known for trying to promote generational wealth among members of the black community by encouraging people to own real estate as a means of achieving financial freedom. “Fuck living rich and dying broke,” raps Jay-Z in one of his tracks. In early May, Jay-Z invested in Other, a free, black-owned app that helps its users build credit through existing spending habits. The Bitcoin Academy also hopes to expand beyond the Marcy Houses in the near future.