create / 2019

Los Angeles Blockchain Lab, Education Center

Los Angeles Blockchain Lab, Education Center

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by Los Angeles Blockchain Lab

There are tremendous job opportunities as the World Economic Forum estimates 10% of Global GDP will be stored on blockchain by 2027. Unfortunately very few women and minorities are participating in this new technology. As such, we, in partnership with USC, are providing “certified” blockchain training to young women in Afghanistan and will launch a similar program in LA for women, minorities, and disadvantaged youth. Our hopes are to connect local graduates with internships and jobs in LA.


What does your organization do?

A collaboration of academia, government and businesses, our mission is to grow LA into a sustainable blockchain innovation hub with a thriving ecosystem by creating jobs and fostering economic growth.

Briefly tell us a story that demonstrates how your organization turns inspiration into impact.

Our CEO/Cofounder, Heidi Pease, was invited to participate in Richard Branson’s Blockchain Summit on his private island, Necker Island, with 40 other hand selected participants to discuss how blockchain may be used to improve the world. Her roommate, Roya Mahboob, taught STEM to young women in Afghanistan and, consequently, the Taliban threatened her life. She fled to the US but with the support of the media, Roya has returned to Afghanistan and back to teaching. She finds jobs for her graduates and pays them in bitcoin so that the young women’s fathers, husbands and brothers can’t steal their money.

After wiping away tears, Heidi promised Roya she would provide blockchain training through one of the universities in LA for Roya’s young women, helping to solve two problems (1) world’s shortage of blockchain coders; and (2) financial independence for women. As such, and with our partner USC Viterbi School of Engineering, we are excited to launch a blockchain training program for these young women. And in the Fall, we are flying teachers from Afghanistan to train them at USC. Shortly thereafter, young women in Afghanistan can enroll in the program earning USC credit. Once the young women have graduated, UCLA’s [email protected] will help them locate internships and jobs.

We hope to launch a similar program here in LA for women, minority and disadvantaged youth.

This is an example of the community coming together and turning an inspiring story into a program that will greatly impact the lives of those in most need. LA is truly leading the blockchain community not only in skills but with our compassion and commitment to improving our community!

Which of the create metrics will your submission impact?​

  • Jobs per capita
  • Minority- and women-owned firms
  • Percentage of graduates from local higher education institutions that remain in LA County 5 years after graduating

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • Central LA
  • San Fernando Valley
  • Westside
  • County of Los Angeles
  • City of Los Angeles

How will your project make LA the best place to create?

The LAB, a 1-year-old startup, is a member based collaboration of academia, government and business focused on building a sustainable blockchain ecosystem in LA. We believe in the technology’s ability to reduce barriers to knowledge and wealth for all people. Cities around the world are providing billions of dollars for blockchain innovation. Unfortunately there is an exodus of startups/jobs leaving the US and SoCal to these countries. To compete, US cities such as New York, Chicago, and San Francisco are launching blockchain resource centers. With the support of LA2050, we hope to capitalize on the opportunities this new technology promises, ensure competitive advantage, and deter job/business loss for residents of LA.

The LAB will be a hub for blockchain innovation bringing together academia, businesses, governments, and the community for research, concept development, education, matchmaking, and collaboration around industries unique to SoCal. We are filing for non-profit status in which an Education Center will be housed and are engaging LA City, similar to how Chicago and NYC are engaged with their respective blockchain centers.

We hope to partner with LA2050 specifically on the Education Center where we will provide education and job skills training. Training will occur through classes, events, hackathons, meetups, and internships. Our participants include engineers, professors/university students, executives, government officials, and the community. Our team of volunteers developed the UCLA Extension Blockchain curriculum and are piloting a blockchain training program with our partner, USC Viterbi School of Engineering, for young women in Afghanistan this Fall. Shortly thereafter, we will launch a similar program in LA for women, minorities, and disadvantaged youth.

The LAB, in its first year, has a proven track record successfully educating the community including:

UCLA Extension (created curriculum)

Lamborghini consulting (collaboration of USC, UCLA, independents)

Asia Financial Forum (engaged blockchain startups for reverse trade mission)

UCLA “Cyber Days,” UCI “Women in Blockchain,” USC “Foundations Blockchain”

“LA Olympics” Working Group

LA City “Shark Tank”

Executive Forums for CEO/CTO/CIO’s

Afghani Young Women Coding Program (USC)

To measurably track our impact, we are developing an ecosystem map to determine the number of skilled talent, startups and service providers, businesses launching blockchain, and job/internship placement. With this information we can project job growth and financial impact to LA.

Currently, Silicon Valley is the blockchain engineering hub and New York the financial hub. But LA is prime to be an innovation hub because of our diversity in industry and, more importantly, of people. This technology needs diversity to avoid mistakes made in the internet’s early deployment and to allow for a more fair world. We believe LA, and its people, is the only place to make this vision come true.

In what stage of innovation is this project?

Pilot project (testing a new idea on a small scale to prove feasibility)

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.

Our ultimate definition of success is to see LA become a blockchain innovation hub and to not only prevent jobs from leaving LA but to actually create jobs and support growth.

To help us determine our success in reaching our goal, we are developing an ecosystem map to monitor the number of students earning blockchain degrees, graduates of our coding and jobs skills classes, recruitment and jobs placements, startups, businesses launching blockchain initiatives, blockchain service providers, and blockchain investors. A prototype will be available early this summer. Data collected will help us identify jobs created, startups initiated, and overall economic impact within Southern California.

For our Education Center, we will consider ourselves successful if we have launched within 1 year the following:

Blockchain on-going coding class

Blockchain jobs skills class - quarterly

1 hackathon

Shark Tank style event for LA City

Working group around “Olympics and Mega-events”

4-6 Executive Forums

Community meetups showcasing blockchain protocols, industry leaders, etc. - quarterly

Blockchain program for Afghan Young Women

Blockchain program for women, minorities, and disadvantaged youth