As CEO Mark Zuckerberg prepares to wrap up his personal tour of the U.S., Facebook announced today that the company will be launching its own 30-city U.S. tour in 2018 to visit with business owners and other Facebook users.
Called Facebook Community Boost, Facebook plans to bring a variety of in-person training programs to each of the 30 cities. According to a company blog post attributed to Facebook VP of small business Dan Levy, the program will target four different groups of people: entrepreneurs, established business owners, job seekers, and those who are interested in “digital literacy and online safety” training.
“We want to do more to support communities across America — particularly for those who are transitioning to careers that require more digital skills,” Levy wrote.
Facebook lists Houston, St. Louis, Albuquerque, Des Moines, and Greenville, South Carolina as some of the stops on the tour. According to USA Today’s Jessica Guynn, Facebook will spend “tens of millions on the program,” but it’s unclear how many participants will be able to take part in the program or what the workshops will specifically entail.
Currently, more than 70 million small businesses have a Facebook page. Some of the existing Facebook programs that Levy cited as targeting small businesses and job seekers include Boost Your Business, a one-day in-person training program that Facebook claims has trained more than 60,000 small businesses in the U.S., and Blueprint, an e-learning platform that teaches participants how to better market on Facebook.
The announcement comes as Zuckerberg will make the final stop on Friday in his 2017 tour of U.S. states he’s never previously visited before — and as Facebook has come under increasing scrutiny for failing to stop Russia-linked pages from spreading divisive messages during the 2016 election.
“There is no question that people have concerns about the direction some things are going in, and we feel a very deep responsibility to contribute positively and to help build community,” Zuckerberg told USA Today. “That’s why we shifted the mission toward this. That’s why we are building a lot of products that help people build community. This announcement fits into that as well.”