School for Math and Science gets $10,000 bitcoin gift | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

School for Math and Science gets $10,000 bitcoin gift

Posted By on Wed, Aug 6, 2014 at 11:37 AM

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Luther Lowe, a graduate of Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts in Hot Springs and now direct of public policy at Yelp, has given $10,000 in bitcoin to ASMSA.

Bitcoin? It's cryptocurrency. Another way to pay for transactions in the digital age.

Yelp? It's a dandy tool for mapping and finding and rating stuff, such as restaurants, on your mobile device.

The gift? Said to be the first of its kind to be accepted by the University of Arkansas Foundation, which includes ASMSA among the campuses it supports. It's believed to be the first high school to receive such a gift.

Lowe has served on the ASMSA board of visitors. Said a news release:

Lowe’s gift will allow ASMSA to create a computer science seminar focusing on bitcoin, cryptocurrencies and collective computing, the first high school course focused entirely on the topics in Arkansas and the United States. Like many of ASMSA’s hallmark courses, the class will feature an interdisciplinary approach to the topic. A combination of mathematics, computer science, humanities and economics faculty will collaborate on the course development and delivery. The gift will also support other elements of the school’s computer science, digital learning and outreach programs.

ASMSA is a residential high school with competitive admission. No football team, but a lot of smart kids who regularly win recognition in our Academic All-stars contest and go on to much bigger, brainier things.

At graduation last May, Lowe made another $10,000 gift and issued another $10,000 gift challenge, which was matched by school supporters. Bitcoin is a little trickier. The news release explains:

Bitcoin launched in 2009 and is managed through a peer-to-peer technology network that doesn’t have a central owner. Bitcoins may be bought or sold in U.S. dollars or in other currencies from private exchanges based around the world. Individuals may also exchange bitcoins using encrypted digital wallets that offer each individual a unique digital identification.

Each bitcoin transaction is recorded on a public database called a block chain. Every block in the chain contains a list of transactions and a link to the previous block. The block chain has a record of every transaction since the creation of bitcoin. Recorded transactions only include each person’s digital wallet identification, the set of encrypted letters and numbers that allows each person to maintain their anonymity.

In order to accept Lowe’s gift, the ASMSA Foundation Fund with assistance from the university foundation established a digital wallet account with BitPay, a bitcoin exchange that allowed the university to accept a payment from Lowe in bitcoin. The digital wallet also allowed the foundation to exchange the bitcoins for cash to be deposited into the foundation’s account.

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