Web3 is being built on the premise that decentralized organizations/networks will, and should, replace centralized ones wherever possible. A significant application of this will be moving credentials (degrees, credit scores, health information, employment history, etc.) from centralized databases to blockchains by replacing the institutions that issue and back them with credible and trusted decentralized organizations. Credentials will become soul-bound tokens (SBTs) as we create a decentralized society.
The future of academic credentials will be on chain, and there will be a race to supply them. To capitalize on this market, these SBTs will need to be issued by a legitimate academic institution with a firm footing in Web3. Why not create one? We believe CityDAO is uniquely positioned to build a transformative Web3 learner-centered academic institution (tentatively named Univ3rCity), given its ability to provide a physical campus, community, and Web3 expertise.
The ultimate goal is a Web3 academic institution that will issue SBTs representing academic credentials and return a healthy percentage of the profits to the CityDAO treasury. The CIP outlines funding for the first two phases (Phase 0 and Phase 1) of a long-term project (In Phase 1 we will offer a prototype course that citizens can take free of charge). The CIP asks for 16k per phase (32k total) in funding.
All great cities have great universities. And it’s no coincidence. At their best, universities and cities exist in a beautiful symbiotic feedback loop: universities attract talented young people and foster their skills, skilled people generate ideas and innovation, innovation grows cities, and cities invest in their universities. For example, of the cities with the highest seed funding per capita, it’s college towns, Boston/Cambridge (Harvard, MIT, etc.) and San Francisco/Berkeley (Stanford, UC Berkeley, etc.) that wildly outperform their peers.
But universities have become - like many of our cities - bloated, bureaucratic, centralized, and out of touch with the needs of the 21st century. The goal is a flourishing city (and CityDAO) built symbiotically with a 21st-century university (a modern institution that attracts talent, produces knowledge, trains our citizens, and generates revenue). In other words, we want to start the feedback loop described above.
Univ3rCity will focus on personalization and passion-based learning to motivate students. It will be built on Web3 primitives to verify learning and give students ownership and autonomy. It will be built such that it will evolve into a DAO with time by issuing governance tokens upon successful completion of courses – Welcome to Univ3rCity, where teachers own the classes and students own the university.
Univ3rCity will be a step into the future while holding onto ideals of the past. The first university ever, in fact, the University of Bologna, was founded by students who wanted leverage over their city and teachers. They pooled their resources to negotiate affordable rent with the city of Bologna and to hold their professors accountable to showing up and teaching them. It’s time for a DAO based University of Bologna 2.0.
Eric and Jake are long time friends and higher education advisors, investors, and entrepreneurs. Univ3rCity by CityDAO couldn’t be more up our alley. In fact, we’ve talked for years about how few people share our overlapping interests in the future of higher ed innovation and urbanism, and have talked about teaming up to help entrepreneurs launch “new cities and new colleges”. Upon meeting Scott and David we quickly realized our vision alignment and complementary skill sets. Scott and David see the potential for education to promote city development, and Eric and Jake see the potential for a Web3 city to foster and develop a new education system.
Jake (JakeW_934) has spent his entire career helping entrepreneurs build new affordable, career aligned, and transformative postsecondary pathways. As a leader at organizations like Year Up, Duet, and Verto Education, and a graduate of the Harvard Grad School of Education (focused on Higher Ed Entrepreneurship) Jake has developed the skill set to launch new and successful Higher Ed ventures. He is currently working as a consultant with one organization building a new college (Verto Education), and another setting up a new accreditor for start up colleges (College 101). Jake is also a co-founder of the group, the Future of Higher Education, and an investor in education-focused orgs like Kibo School and the Transcend Network.
Eric (ericscott) is an education technology investor and entrepreneur with 15 years of experience as a: classroom educator, ed tech founder, independent consultant to schools, governments and foundations, and active k-100 ed tech & Web3 angel investor. He currently serves as a Venture Partner at Avalanche.vc where he invests in pre/seed fund focused on supporting ventures that increase human agency across learning, earning and owning. Previously, Eric was the founding CEO of Whetstone Education and served on the board until its acquisition by SchoolMint (2020). Eric started his career in the classroom as a high school Civics and US History teacher (TFA Mississippi Delta ‘09). During his time at TFA, Eric developed his passion for learning, which has transformed into a purpose to help reimagining education for the digital age.
Scott (ScottA) has worked for the government to develop programs to end homelessness and alleviate poverty (Housing First Edmonton). He has taught and fully developed university economics classes at the undergraduate and graduate levels. In 2022, Scott completed a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Alberta, focusing on economic growth. He graduated with top marks and is set to publish two journal articles in reputable publications (the Journal of Economic History and the Journal of Institutional Economics). He has taken an active role in CityDAO and organized successful initiatives such as the CityDAO Conference and Journal.
David (Da3vid) has worked with academic institutions for well over a decade. He has a Juris Doctor and is licensed to practice law in New York since 2005. He has a Masters degree in East Asian Studies and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Sociology focusing on DAOs and the metaverse. He has been teaching business law, management and organizational behavior at an international university for 15 years. He has also run successful theater companies with valuations in the millions of USD. David was on the first CityDAO City Council, helped to write the Charter and Operating Agreement, facilitated the Legal Guild, served on the first Mission Guild and is currently the facilitator of the Education & Research Guild, which he also founded. David will support this CIP as an unpaid advisor.
Together, We are educators, education entrepreneurs, and CityDAO citizens who bring a deep understanding of the logistical and operational challenges of starting a new school/college/university.
Scott, Eric, and Jake are asking for $15,000 USDC for personal compensation along with $1,000 to be used on additional expenses, such as consulting and design, per phase. Thus, a total of $16,000 USDC is requested for phase 0. If successful completion of the deliverables is met (as determined by our unpaid advisor, David), we ask for the same funds to complete phase 1 ($32,000 total). Each phase is anticipated to last 6 weeks.
A Gnosis multisig will be set up for the funds to be transferred. The multisig will have Scott, Jake, Eric, David, and one additional overseer as signers. Upon passing a snapshot vote, we ask that $16k for Phase 0 be transferred from the treasury to the multisig.
We calculated this project rate based on a rate of our expected hours over the 12 weeks ($100/hour for an expected 8.3 hours of work/ week). David will support this project as an unpaid advisor; we will meet with him regularly and share our deliverables.
We are proposing a 6 week Phase 0 and a 6 week Phase 1 to lay the foundation for Univ3rCity. We guarantee frequent communication and transparency throughout these 12 weeks to ensure we deliver a project in line with expectations. It should be noted the timelines are tentative; if deliverables require additional time to achieve, the team will not require or ask for further compensation.
Phase 0: 6 Weeks
In Phase 0, we will develop the vision of Univ3rCity and create a prototype course to be offered to citizens free of charge and non-citizens for a fee. It is essential to note the course topic and content will be chosen to maximize the benefit to citizens.
We will engage in a consultative design process with CityDAO citizens, leadership and other relevant stakeholders around the guiding questions of:
- Why does CityDAO need a university to exist? What are the benefits to the DAO (e.g. member recruitment, L&D)?
- What should a CityDAO University look like? Who is it for?
- How to best leverage CityDAO?
- What are the most relevant Web3 primitives for education?
Below is a rough timeline of how we would work and what artifacts we would prioritize in sequence.
Phase 1: 6 weeks
In Phase 1, we will continue to develop the whitepaper and deliver the prototype course. Here are some guiding principles for how we would design this learning experience:
- NFT based credentialing (SBTs)
- Interest-driven and personalized
- Structured peer & coach interactions
Phase 2: Pending a successful Phase 0 and 1 we will produce a separate CIP to outline continued development of Univ3rCity by CityDAO. This would include oversight and management of the following areas:
- Learning Outcomes
- Design high impact learning experiences
- Growth + Marketing
- Market positioning, branding, social media, student pipelines + strategic partners
- State Authorization, accreditation, incorporation, Title 4 Compliance, governance
- Pricing & tuition strategy, financial modeling, other revenue streams (eg, DeSci)
- Operations and Technology
- Staffing roadmap, setting up a registrar and financial aid office
- Developing student and faculty handbooks and processes for HR & admissions
- Data tracking and analysis, outcomes measurement
- Choosing and implementing tech tools
- Revenue operations
- Industry Engagement
- Defining industry-connected pathways and partnerships (eg, employer driven skill standards, internships/apprenticeships & jobs)
- Talent Network
- Develop a network of coaches & mentors
- Design peer accountability, feedback mechanisms
In Phase 1, citizens who choose to participate will benefit from the ability to take the free course. CityDAO, as a whole, will benefit from branding and 100% of the profit from the prototype course. The main benefits to CityDAO will be realized if Phases 0 and 1 are successful. A CIP for Phase 2 will describe further benefits that would entail consistent, ongoing, and potentially significant financial gains for CityDAO. While details will need to be finalized, the goal is a certain percentage of profits being sent to the CityDAO treasury in perpetuity.
In the long term, there are a host of regulatory challenges and risks that new colleges face, which we would plan to flesh out as part of the Phase 0 and 1 work. There are no regulatory challenges or risks to us developing this proposal or prototyping a course.