Facebook Expands Digital Training Initiative with College Partnerships...

Digital Learning

Facebook Expands Digital Training Initiative with College Partnerships in Chicago

By Sydney Johnson     Jun 20, 2018

Facebook Expands Digital Training Initiative with College Partnerships in Chicago

In 2017 Facebook claimed more than 4 million companies advertise on its platform, and more than 500,000 companies advertise on Instagram. Many social media marketers have learned their relatively-new trade on the job, but the tech giant now wants to train the next generation of marketers and entrepreneurs on how businesses can use social platforms—specifically theirs.

“There is a digital skills gap, and we hope to be apart of decreasing that digital skills gap,” says Parisa Zagat, policy programs manager at Facebook, in an interview with EdSurge.

Facebook this month announced broad plans to train one million people and small businesses in digital skills by 2020. The social media giant has since been rolling out announcements around partnerships with community colleges and local workforce training programs in about 50 different cities, including, most recently, Chicago.

Facebook will be partnering with City Colleges, a system of seven community colleges in Chicago, to design curriculum around digital marketing using Facebook and Instagram. The curriculum will draw on Facebook’s online learning tool, Blueprint, a publicly-available platform that hosts courses and certifications on topics such as generating leads on the social media platforms to monetizing content and increasing online sales.

The partnership with City Colleges is similar—and similarly vague—to other community college partnerships announced by Facebook earlier this month. Existing partners include Bunker Hill Community College and Roxbury Community College in Boston, Central New Mexico Community College, and Des Moines Area Community College in Iowa, where Facebook has introduced new Digital Marketing certificate programs, which train students in marketing skills beyond Facebook as well.

The company did not share how specific institutions were selected, and few concrete details have been shared about how the curriculum will look when the programs launch this fall.

Each partnership and curriculum will look slightly different, according to a company spokesperson. In some cities, like Des Moines, Facebook is introducing an entirely new digital marketing curriculum. But the Chicago partnership will instead infuse Facebook training tools from Blueprint into existing digital marketing courses at City College, the spokesperson said.

Along with the City Colleges announcement, Facebook today also revealed plans to support 50 future students for Chicago Codes, a city initiative that aims to train Chicago residents in tech skills. Launched in April, Chicago Code will be a free coding academy located on Chicago’s Southside and will offer 12-week long courses in Python starting this fall.

The program will likely offer training in skills beyond Python and could extend to 32-week courses in the future, according to Karin Norington-Reaves, CEO of the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership, which runs Chicago Codes.

Zagat says that the company looks for existing local innovations “that are doing great work and find ways we can support them.” But it’s unclear why Facebook selected Chicago Codes, which has yet to put students through the program, select instructors or finalize a curriculum for review. “Facebook stumbled upon a press release [from Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office] about the initiatives and reached out to the city,” says Norington-Reaves.

As part of the partnership, Facebook will be covering costs to support 50 students in the program. Norington-Reaves claims it costs between $5,000-$10,000 per student. Facebook will be underwriting instructor and facilities costs to offer the free tuition. In addition to Facebook’s scholarships, Chicago Codes is funded through a $500,000 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation as well as $250,000 from Mayor Emanuel’s 2018 budget, which aimed to “offer employer-driven tech bootcamps at no cost and expand employer outreach, education, and services to promote hiring based on individual skills rather than degree attainment,” a press announcement reads.

Chicago Codes will aim specifically to support and train low-income residents, although Norington-Reaves admits that the exact process program will use to recruit or assess applicants has yet to be determined.

“We have yet to work out [application] details, but we will make sure it’s folks from the communities we are targeting,” she said. “The goal is to provide opportunity where people are overlooked or dismissed. Not everybody is going to college and that is okay, but everyone will need some kind of postsecondary training in order to compete in the labor market.”

Zagat added that the partnership may also include mentoring with Facebook employees and visits to the company’s Chicago offices, but those details are not yet confirmed.

Chicago is not the only place where Facebook is teaming up with coding bootcamps as part of the Community Boost initiative. In New Mexico, along with the digital marketing certificate program, Facebook is funding 32 scholarships for students to attend Central New Mexico Community College’s Deep Dive coding bootcamp.

Learn more about EdSurge operations, ethics and policies here. Learn more about EdSurge supporters here.

More from EdSurge

Get our email newsletterSign me up
Keep up to date with our email newsletterSign me up