Peralta Community College District's Only Student-Run Publication
Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

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Archives

    Facebook to offer tuition-free course

    Peralta’s ‘historical’ partnership with tech giant set for spring at Merritt campus

    Saskia Hatvany, Laney Tower Staff Writer

    Facebook’s Chief Diversity Officer Maxine Williams addressed the Peralta community at an event celebrating the announcement of Facebook’s new partnership with Peralta Colleges on Oct. 31. The program is called “Level Up.” (Photo by Michelle Snider)

    Social-media giant Facebook has selected Peralta as one of 20 community colleges nationwide to host a tuition-free digital-marketing program.

    The 16-week pilot program, which launches in spring of 2019 at Merritt College, aims to encourage entrepreneurs, small business owners and community organizers to “level up” by learning how to grow their businesses online.

    College representatives gathered at the Peralta District offices on Oct. 31 for a formal announcement hosted by KBLX radio’s Armand Williams, who dubbed the partnership “a historical event.”

    The venue was hard to miss with large white tents and colorful balloon arches visible from Laney’s bordering East 8th Street. Inside the main tent a harpist played to the well-dressed crowd of excited local dignitaries.

    Facebook’s Chief Diversity Officer, Maxine Williams, took a seat alongside Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Peralta Chancellor Jowel Laguerre and District Board President Meredith Brown. Merritt College President Marie Elaine Burns called the opportunity to host the program “an honor and a privilege.”

    The curriculum consists of four workshop-style courses, which amount to a total of 10 credits, and will include hybrid classes to accommodate a working schedule.

    Courses include “Creating an E-Commerce Website” and “World Wide Web Publishing,” which are specifically designed to help business owners understand how to use social media to grow their business online.

    Facebook is offering full scholarships for the program, which were described by Vice Chancellor of Affairs Siri Brown “as close as possible to free.” Once enrolled in the program, participants will receive Facebook advertising credits, which can be used to purchase targeted advertisements for their business on the platform.

    The initial pilot program will accept 40 participants. Those who have seen its success at other colleges predict high demand, and early success has prompted many schools to expand availability, Brown said.

    Amid the excitement, Schaaf was quick to remind the community that Facebook would also be gaining something in its partnership with one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the country.

    “We all know that you tech titans need to diversify your workforce,” she said. “Let us be honest Facebook; you are going to benefit from having a little more Oakland in you.”

    Williams initially reached out to Peralta on behalf of Facebook last spring. In her speech at the event, she mentioned her modest background, being raised by a single mother with two siblings.

    The narrative she chose to present to the Peralta community meshed seamlessly with Facebook’s new public relations campaign, which includes a promised goal to help one million Americans by 2020.

    The ambitious goal is in tandem with Facebook’s partnerships with community colleges, which hopes, in Williams words, to make “dreams become reality” by helping Americans get the digital skills they need to compete in the workforce.

    Digital-media skills are becoming increasingly necessary in all fields, she said, and not just in the tech world. She reiterated the company’s commitment to global welfare in her final statement.

    “Our mission at Facebook is not just to connect the world, but to help us build strong communities,” she said.

    In some ways her speech echoed that of Brown, who closed the event with an energetic cheer and invited attendees to chant the program’s “level up” slogan with her. The partnership is a welcome opportunity for East Bay residents, she said, after Silicon Valley’s tech takeover prompted concerns over equity in the workforce.

    “This means so much to our students. We ‘level up’ and we deliver for our students, and our students will deliver for all of us,” she concluded.

    Applications for the program are available at www.peralta.edu and will be accepted through Saturday, Dec. 15. For more information contact [email protected]

    About the Contributor
    In the fall of 2019, The Laney Tower rebranded as The Citizen and launched a new website. These stories were ported over from the old Laney Tower website, but byline metadata was lost in the port. However, many of these stories credit the authors in the text of the story. Some articles may also suffer from formatting issues. Future archival efforts may fix these issues.  
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