Billionaire businessman partners Shawn Jay-Z Carter and former Twitter CEO and co-founder Jack Dorsey have teamed up to launch The Bitcoin Academy at Marcy Houses, the public housing complex in Brooklyn, New York, where the “Empire State of Mind” emcee grew up.
“This program aims to provide education, empower the community with knowledge, and get rid of some of the barriers so that residents can learn more about Bitcoin specifically and finance in general,” according to its official website.
Participants are offered a few ways of participating in the program, including in-person and online classes from June 22 through September 7, and is open to all Marcy residents. In-person classes will take place two evenings per week, with dinner served. Applicants will receive MiFi devices, a one-year limited data plan, and smartphones if needed. Residents may choose to keep the devices.
The only named instructors are two bitcoin influencers, Lamar Wilson and Najah J. Roberts, who promise to teach participants “about Bitcoin, how it works, why you should care, and how to build your own financial future.”
Hov and Dorsey have also created “Crypto Kids Camp.” The program will take place on two Saturdays for Marcy kids and teenagers ages 5-17. Dates and times are not yet available.
The entrepreneur, who rarely uses his Twitter account, took to the platform where he shouted out his associate in a post earlier this week, sharing that the institution is just one of many to come. “Bitcoin Academy, stating in Marcy, a palace that taught me so much, is hopefully the first of many.”
He added, “The simple goal is to provide people tools to build independence for themselves and then the community around them.”
This initiative is made possible by personal grants from Jay and Jack, with on-the-ground support from Block and the Shawn Carter Foundation.
The rapper’s new initiative has garnered backlash for the academy’s heavy focus on bitcoin. The world of cryptocurrency is relatively new and has been known to be riddled with financial scams, hacks, and fraud, where unsuspecting investors are encouraged to buy into various coins with promises of fast returns that are often untrue.
Critics have called out the necessity for cryptocurrency in areas like Marcy projects. “Why tax billionaires to create a robust social safety net when they come up with great ideas like this?” wrote one Twitter user in response to an announcement from the platformer co-creator.
“If you asked Marcy Houses residents how to best meet their needs, how many would say ‘a bitcoin class’?”