City College of San Francisco is expanding into the Sunset District starting this spring with a limited offering that targets the unique needs of Westside residents.
A total of six classes serving working adults, seniors, English learners and high school students will be offered starting January 13 at the Sunset’s Wah Mei School at 1400 Judah St. and at Lincoln High School at 2162 24th Ave.
While tuition at City College has been free to San Francisco residents since 2017, this expansion is funded entirely by Supervisor Gordon Mar, whose district includes the Sunset. Mar said that he secured $150,000 from the District 4 discretionary budget to launch what he sees as a CCSF pilot program in the neighborhood.
Mar told the San Francisco Examiner that the effort is part of a larger mission to expand services overall in the neighborhood, including “services for seniors and youth, expanding affordable housing and [supporting] neighborhood festivals and events.”
Offering classes at Wah Mei School is an example of coming full circle with that mission, said Mar. Earlier this year, he worked to prevent the displacement of Wah Mei, a four-decade-old bilingual preschool, after its landlord listed the property for sale, the Examiner reported previously.
A total of four classes — two Child Development classes, a yoga class for older adults and an English as a Second Language class — will be offered at Wah Mei School. Lincoln High School will offer two dual enrollment classes for high school students.
Wah Mei School Executive Director Ben Wong told the Examiner that the partnership with City College is particularly important in light of The City’s “existing shortage of early care educators.”
“Bringing free City College Child Development classes to the Sunset will help ensure a well-trained, stable and quality early care and education workforce,” he said.
The Sunset expansion includes so-called lifelong learning classes, which have been trimmed from City College’s class schedule in part due to recent changes in state funding for community colleges.
“City does face a challenge with the new state funding formula that’s been in place [and] devalues lifelong learning classes and prioritizes classes that lead more directly to degrees and transfer to four year universities,” said Mar. “I did see the need for us as a city to look at how we can continue to support the lifelong learning classes, given the declining state funding.”
City College currently has 10 campuses in San Francisco and one at San Francisco International Airport.
Earlier this year, Mar helped lead an effort to secure long-term funding for the college’s Free City College program, which covers tuition for San Francisco residents through a partnership with the college and The City.
Mar said the work made him “become even more aware that Sunset District residents and residents on the Westside overall lack access to City College classes that exist in many other neighborhoods.”