Blockchain Business School puts focus on the digital divide

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November 04, 2020

What started as an unyielding mission to provide knowledge to youth and life-long learners curious about blockchain and artificial intelligence, evolved into a mandate to supply electronic tablets. It was revealed that there was an interest to learn but not everyone had access to an electronic device. This hampered participation in the Blockchain Business School program and affected public and private school students whose studies had moved online due to COVID-19.

A successful model that was introduced by non-profit, Harness All Possibilities (HAP) - the Blockchain Business School (www.242bbs.com) was a one-month-long virtual learning experience that was adopted by participating nodes and customized for the respective country. The BBS was a continuation of the 2019 inaugural Blockchain and AI Conference and Hackathon that was held at Windsor School and kick-started by HAP, The Rotary Clubs of The Bahamas (RCOB), and CryptoChicks.

This year’s focus for BBS included closing the digital divide and it was important for underserved communities to have inclusion, access, and knowledge in these pandemic times therefore, community partners stepped forward to assist. The program was supported by many partners including HAP, ConsenSys Academy, PricewaterhouseCoopers Bahamas, Global Sun Integration, and the RCOB.

Over 320 persons in The Bahamas, Jamaica, Turks and Caicos, Cayman, and the US signed on with 286 tablets purchased locally in their countries and donated to students and households to participate. Those students would also be equipped for the start of their school year.

Rhonda McDeigan-Eldridge, a native of Nassau residing in Connecticut, and founder of HAP, shared these highlights. “Last November, we started planning our second-year Blockchain event to invite students outside of The Bahamas to join us with plans for a one-week cultural, business, and digital learning experience. COVID-19, made us pivot to a 100 percent virtual event, by ‘community for community’ within the 5 countries.”

McDeigan-Eldridge further explained. “We have seen similar expanded initiatives, one of which most recently by Aliv, a 2019 sponsor. They participated as a donor this year and they recently launched a crowdfunding initiative with Rotary Clubs of The Bahamas and the Ministry of Education at the end of October 2020, with a 'call for devices campaign'. We call others to action so no one is left behind in these unprecedented times.”

Global Sun Integration provided a project management role to the BBS and secured a 3-month data package for the tablets that were purchased at Aliv Bahamas. “We wanted to continue our efforts especially with COVID-19 pushing the schools to move to a digital platform,” said James Clarke, CEO, Global Sun. They donated10 devices to the Blockchain program and another 10 devices to students at government schools.

The Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) found the Blockchain Business School a good fit as a project that helps sustain and develop their island’s future leaders. “We realized that COVID-19 changed the education landscape and our global appetite to be diverse with learning opportunities,” said Glendia Sweeting, Manager of Group Corporate Affairs. “We continue to support the program and know that the students will benefit from and embrace this new way of learning. We are grateful for the opportunity to also provide tablets to the students as they transition into this program.”

Liquidus, another repeat partner, was pleased to donate 21 devices that were allocated to the Catholic Education Centre; they distributed them to schools in New Providence, Grand Bahama, and Abaco. Some of those students had been affected by Hurricane Dorian and a tablet was a welcomed gift.

Ian Rutherford, Head, Corporate Finance, Regulatory Affairs, and Administration at Simplified Lending said, “We are committed to in the growth and development of youth in The Bahamas through financial literacy, and also through access to technology. Our donation to this initiative is an action step toward closing the digital divide for students impacted by Covid19. We firmly believe that all students should have the opportunity to learn in a safe environment, with tools necessary to spark creativity and innovation."

Kimberley King-Burns of Briland Modem collaborated with BBS in September to secure devices for the Islands of Abaco, Eleuthera, and Acklins."We at Briland Modem Fund were again thrilled to be included in the development of this important educational program. Thanks to such a cool group of engaged corporate partners. What we do now as a team to empower Bahamian youth will continue to resonate for generations and guarantee a more equitable country for all of its citizens," said King-Burns.

Tri-Star Insurance, STARS Bahamas, Rhonda McDeigan-Eldridge, and Rashan Smith continue to raise money to provide devices to as many learners and households, on as many islands as possible to support Bahamians and their businesses. More information can be obtained by emailing: r.eldridge@harnessap.org.

Blockchain Business School was a social impact initiative to expose students to virtual learning by way of access to an e-certificated Blockchain Essentials course, workshops and presentations by global cross-industry technology and business pioneers bringing within reach broad foundational knowledge on blockchain as a key transformative technology accelerator. Other donors included: Mobile Assist, First Caribbean Bank, PalmTree Digital, Onyx Partners, Holdun Family Office, Seagrape, Aliya Allen, Solex Group, PricewaterhouseCoopers Cayman and Jamaica, Ilah's Lemon-Aid Stand for Kids Foundation, Liquidus, Caribbean Blockchain Alliance, Azaleta and Co, Blockchain Association of The Cayman Islands (BACI), Blockchain Radio, Mr. and Mrs. Brian Jones and POCMI.

This engine of digital impact was the essence of the Blockchain community to address an urgent need by many. Harness All Possibilities, Inc. (HAP) is a 501(c)3 charitable organization registered in Connecticut with partnership programs in The Bahamas. 

Global Sun Integration is a technology and project management consultancy firm that assisted the Blockchain Business School (BBS) event and back to school students with electronic tablets. They donated ten to BBS and ten to students whose parents were not able to purchase a device due to hardships from the pandemic. Shown in the photo on the left side, sitting to standing: James Clarke, Charles Issac, Morgan Wood, and Pheron Bodie. On the right side, sitting to standing are: Jamero Clarke, Angelo Simon and Mark Burrows. Photo by Azaleta Ishmael-Newry

Simplified Lending supported the Blockchain Business School initiative that was held in August 2020. The tablets they sponsored allowed students to be prepared for distance learning for the Fall 2020 school year. Shown in the photo from left to right: Kelley Nottage, Manager, Marketing and Sales Support, Ian Rutherford, Head of Corporate Finance, Regulatory Affairs and Administration and Sharell Carroll, Business Development Consultant. Photo by Azaleta Ishmael-Newry.

Shown in the photos above are a few recipients who received electronic tablets from Global Sun Integration to assist them with their digital online learning. Photos by Global Sun

Written by Azaleta Ishmael-Newry

News date : 11/04/2020    Category : About Bahamians, Business, Press Releases

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