Jay-Z sells bitcoin in the projects. Not everyone buys.

It’s been an exciting endeavor from the start: two billionaire crypto evangelists funded a 12-week “Bitcoin Academy” for residents of a public housing complex in Brooklyn, with courses ranging from “Careers in Crypto” to a seminar on “Why Decentralize “Handed matters.” Three months later, the class was fired, and tenants at the Marcy Houses have wildly divided opinions on the whole matter — helped by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey and rapper Jay-Z, who reportedly grew up in building 524.

Some residents are still fervent skeptics: “How do you help us if you ask us to put in five dollars, ten dollars and we all have fixed incomes?” asked Lydia Bryant, 57, adding that the money from people in “a real stock” would probably be safer than in crypto.

Some didn’t get much: “I took the class but really didn’t understand much,” said a retiree who used to work as a school bus matron in Queens.

But some are newfound Bitcoin believers who are convinced that crypto markets will rise. “I thought Bitcoin was a scam,” said Danny Craft, 56, an academy graduate. “I’m coming to find out, you just have to know how to use it. If you put money in, you just let it sit and grow.”

In terms of student sentiment, it didn’t hurt that graduates received a surprise: $1,000 in crypto for completing the program. One alumna told The Daily Beast she has already started converting some of her other assets into crypto, with plans to buy more with every paycheck.

“If you take it out, you lose the benefit of having something in the long run,” she argued. She said one of her takeaways from the academy was that her money would likely double or triple over time.

And when the opposite happened, was she concerned? “As long as things go up again.”


Founded in 2009, the value of Bitcoin has grown exponentially over the past year to an all-time high of $60,000 per token. But it remains very unstable. In the past 12 months, the price has collapsed by more than half, slipping nearly 10 percent on Monday and Tuesday alone.

For someone like Dorsey — whose Twitter bio simply reads “#bitcoin” (plus a bitcoin emoji) and is worth an estimated $4.7 billion — that volatility is manageable.

But from the perspective of some Marcy residents, the risks are far greater, especially once they start bringing in their own savings.

“If you take your money that you worked for or your government-sponsored funds and invest it in something like bitcoin that’s really risky, that’s a no-win,” said one tenant who asked for it out of concern but didn’t being called about “backlash” by some of their crypto-bullish neighbors.

Even the $1,000 grant, she said, is unlikely to yield a life-changing return in a place where some “people are broke and fighting for their lives.”

The retired bus matron, meanwhile, said that while she doesn’t fully understand how bitcoin works, she’s accumulated enough to know “I can’t gamble with money I get for retirement.”

Others felt the academy sufficiently highlighted the risks of crypto, saying the courses gave participants information to make their own financial decisions.

“The class didn’t tell them… ‘Yo, take your savings and turn them into bitcoin,'” Matthew Powell said. He attended sessions with Craft, his childhood friend; both said they understood that digital currency markets involved risks.

Powell said he “messed with bitcoin” before enrolling in the academy, but when the price fell, he cut his losses and exited. His newly gained insight from the courses: “Take something, put it down and just let it sit.”


In a statement, a Bitcoin Academy spokesperson said the group is considering the first session as “a pilot project, and [we] will certainly iterate and improve as we go. We surveyed students along the way and are in the process of reviewing their feedback so we can learn more about the classroom experience and gather data on their interests and goals as we consider how to shape the next phase of the program.”

Sitting on a cluster of benches on the south side of the Marcy complex, another Bitcoin Academy alumna, who goes by the name Queen Bee, said she found the coursework engaging. Classes included a different complimentary dinner at each session, she said, including oxtail, fish, shrimp, and “vegan night.”

Attendees were given access to WiFi devices and smartphones as needed, and although Queen Bee said she was missing some sessions due to COVID and a hospital stay, she received her $1,000 bonus. She has no plans to sell as it would result in a tax liability, and she said she has no interest in paying tax on something given to her for free.

Another participant, Tina, who sat next to her, also had positive feedback about the course, although she missed the sessions after her husband fell ill before he died. “I would do it again,” she said.


Built in 1949, the Marcy Houses were made famous by Jay-Z. When he was young, he said, the area was notoriously dangerous. “I come from Marcy Houses where the boys die by the thousands,” he rapped on his 2017 track “Marcy Me.”

The rapper has given back to the community in recent years, and several residents have praised his generosity. “He’s so good for our people,” said Jessie Mackey, a 65-year-old tenant who has had to miss most Bitcoin events to take care of her sister.

Edith Williams, who said she attended one session, is urging her adult children to enroll in the next academy cohort provided they get the chance. She has some money invested in crypto and plans to wait a few months to see if it goes up. And if she does, she said she has no intention of cashing out: “Let it roll, let it roll, let it roll.”

https://www.thedailybeast.com/jay-zs-selling-bitcoin-in-the-projects-not-everyones-buying?source=articles&via=rss Jay-Z sells bitcoin in the projects. Not everyone buys.


Hung is a Interreviewed U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Hung joined Interreviewed in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing: hung@interreviewed.com.

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