Last year was an incredible year of growth for us. We taught over 10,000 students, expanded to 12 of El Salvador’s 14 departments, created a variety of new curriculum, launched the Bitcoin diploma, hosted dozens of meet-ups and even started work on a circular economy project with Bitcoin Beach we are calling Bitcoin Island.
As the first nation to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender we believe that El Salvador will create a lot of examples for the world to follow. Independent, impartial bitcoin education will be the foundation for ensuring those examples are positives ones and we are dedicated to making that a reality. El Salvador is the focus, but the mission is the world.
The novelty and scale of this means that there is a steep learning curve, and we are constantly improving and evolving.
Everything will change but the mission.
The Bitcoin Diploma expands internationally
Last year we launched the ten-week Bitcoin Diploma to overwhelming success. The first version we designed was taught to 38 high school students in San Marcos, El Salvador.
We kept improving the curriculum and expanding our reach so that by the end of the year we were teaching hundreds of students at a time in four schools, two city halls and one island. We also kept improving the curriculum and open-sourced version 3.0, which we released in September.
It’s worth mentioning here that ALL our classes are free. More than that, because our philosophy is based around showing rather than telling whenever possible, all the classes involve students actually using Bitcoin, which they keep. We have some sponsors but also rely heavily on donations from the international community. (And we are now tax-exempt for all US donors.)
There is tremendous demand and while a major limitation is funding, we’ve also been working hard to bring down the cost per student.
Back to the Bitcoin Diploma. We will continue to expand aggressively with students served in El Salvador, but that’s not all. We want to make it easier for others to teach the Bitcoin Diploma, anywhere in the world.
We are working on a version 1.0 of the Bitcoin Diploma in English which will be ready late Q1 and the 4.0 Spanish edition will be ready in Q2. Both will be open sourced for anyone to use.
We are working with partners in a variety of countries that plan to use these this year in their local communities and we expect both languages to be widely used.
We also want to facilitate translations into other languages. These translations will be verified by the community and posted on our Github and webpage alongside the official English and Spanish versions. Everything will be open source.
This is how we will scale: by empowering others.
Teaching a new generation
It’s important for us that education is community driven.
Our team in El Salvador is international but all our teachers are Salvadorean. When we are invited into a new community, we may have to travel to get there but we always strive to build locally.
This means that we train the top students of today to teach their communities tomorrow.
For example, we launched the Bitcoin Diploma is Ataco last year. José Daniel Viana and Héctor Gerardo González were top students who took initiative and started teaching their peers on their own outside of class. Well, it will be official in 2023.
Daniel and Héctor graduated from the Bitcoin diploma in September and from the Ataco public high school in November but will return to the school to teach a new class of students starting as teachers’ assistants February as we continue to train them. Starting in April they will be in charge of thier own classrooms.
This is how we will scale: by empowering others.
We will continue to have a large public meetup in San Salvador on the last Thursday of each month as well as various other meetups, including regular ones in the eastern region as well. The meetup, like everything else, will be free and targeted toward getting Salvadoreans off zero.
Intro, online and advanced classes
We teach some more advanced classes, such as a series of Seed Signer workshops we taught in November or the ones we’re planning for next month focused on setting up your own node.
We’re also working on expanding our online offerings to duplicate everything we do in-person.
Last year we partnered with Bitcoin Beach to begin work on isla la Pirraya. We are also very fortunate to have the enthusiastic support of the local government and community. In December we graduated the first class of the Bitcoin Diploma there, including the beach futbol club — who are both national champions and community leaders.
This year we’ll graduate waves of new students as well as train the best ones to become teachers themselves.
Besides onboarding new business, we hope to get a Bitcoin ATM on the island to help kickstart a circular economy.
We’ll also invite the bitcoin community for a weekend to show off the island’s beauty and again try to stimulate that circular bitcoin economy.
Growth in Eastern El Salvador
San Salvador was the logical place to start My First Bitcoin. It is the nation’s capital and its largest city. Almost all the other Bitcoin projects and companies had the same idea.
That could be why one of the areas of greatest growth for us last year was the eastern region — far (by El Salvador standards) from the capital where there is a much smaller non-government Bitcoin presence.
Last year’s growth there was the result of building a great team based in that region as well as support from local leaders. We want to entrench that growth this year and are considering renting a house to serve as an office and classroom, as we do in San Salvador.
We expect people to use the Bitcoin Diploma we created all on their own in a variety of new places, but we’ll also be involved with some of those efforts. We are in the early stages of working with partners to expand into a number of new nations, such as the United States, Honduras & Mexico.
As we continue to grow, we’ll need to also continue to professionalize our core team and efforts. Some of this will be internal but whenever possible we’d like to build in public and create positive examples.
Big picture: our mission and how to scale it
We live in a world in in which we do not get to decide, and our critical thinking skills have atrophied. We want to build a world that encourages critical thought, a world in which we have agency over our own lives and power and responsibility resides with the individual.
That is why we believe education MUST be independent and impartial — the point of all of this is to empower people to think for themselves. Bitcoin education is not the end goal, but rather a means to that end.
We are motivated by the profound belief that we can do better and that we are all capable of more. If done correctly Bitcoin won’t just be money, but rather the start of a new relationship we all have with power.
Our model thus far has been mostly built around interactive and in-person. We’ll keep growing there and we’ll also add more digital options which scales better. But the big way we will scale is by empowering others to take initiative in their own communities and providing the education component to other projects who can then focus their energy on other methods to achieve the big goal we all have — use Bitcoin to change the world.
Besides open sourcing educational materials we will stive to open source everything we do: how we organize meet-ups, how we build internal infrastructure to support the mission and lead by example, and all the mistakes we make along the way.
How can you help?
My First Bitcoin is built on the support of the whole community. It is an idea whose time has come. We will only continue to evolve and grow with your help.
Our mission is to overthrow centralized power, so we’ll need a lot of help; with everything.
We need your expertise; we need your money; and we need you to build wherever you are.
Donate Bitcoin here, write us here (firstname.lastname@example.org) to get involved.
Upward and onward!
- My First Bitcoin