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“This is not about making sure that Facebook doesn’t come into the community,” Romero said. “This is about making sure East Palo Alto is not left out.”

Nearly half of Facebook’s employees take some form of alternative transportation, and the company is placing a hard cap on the number of vehicles allowed on and off campus to keep traffic down, said Facebook spokesman Tucker Bounds. Facebook has also been working with local developers on efforts to build housing for employees on vacant land near the campus to lessen the impact on the existing housing market, Bounds said.

Facebook has initiated some outreach into the surrounding community, including support for the program where Macias is learning to be a carpenter, known as JobTrain.

Kail Lubarsky, director of marketing at JobTrain, said no graduates have gotten jobs with Facebook yet, but she said she’s working with the company in hopes of establishing an internship program. JobTrain has culinary arts training that could lead to jobs for students in Facebook's cafeterias. But the real goal is to place students in entry-level jobs that could let them advance to join the ranks of the in-demand coders, designers and executives who thrive most in Silicon Valley.

At JobTrain, some students said they were gunning for Facebook jobs. But many said they were simply grateful for the chance to start over, to get a foothold in an economy that has challenged many of them, even in a place where on paper the recovery is in full swing.

Macias said he sees parallels between his effort to get ahead and the Facebook employees up the road, whom he sees as average people who worked hard and succeeded.

“They took advantage of opportunities,” he said.

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Marcus Wohlsen can be reached on Twitter: http://twitter.com/marcuswohlsen