Wildlife biologist Dena Emmerson was one of nearly 5,000 new students to register at City College of San Francisco last fall, after she decided to learn marketing so that she could launch a public outreach campaign to promote conservation. That semester, she took four marketing classes for less than the cost of a lunch in the city’s Financial District.

CCSF’s publicly funded Free City program fully pays for students’ tuition, minus the cost of books, a $17 health fee, and $3 for online...

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