Giving When It Counts the Most

Alumni Feature

Renee and Richard Goldman

In 2014, the University of Pittsburgh School of Education received a historic $3 million gift from alumni Renée K. Goldman and Richard M. Goldman to establish an endowed dean's chair in their name.

"People often give big gifts to engineering, medicine, and business, but not to education, social work, and public health," says Richard Goldman, an education entrepreneur and co-founder of Xceed Preparatory Academy and Xceed Anywhere. "We saw this gift as an invaluable opportunity to really make a difference to support Pitt's world-class School of Education."

Under the gift agreement, the Goldmans created two planned giving trusts totaling $2 million and a cash gift of $1 million. Instead of waiting for the full term on the cash payment, the Goldmans took the extraordinary step of paying off the remaining $700,000 balance on their cash gift in January during the pandemic.

"We understood that Pitt and the School of Education can really use the money now during the pandemic, so instead of taking another 10 years or longer to pay off the gift, we did it now," says Richard Goldman.

"Our goal is to be a role model to encourage other donors at Pitt to do the same in this climate, if they are able," he added.

The Renée and Richard Goldman Dean's Chair supports the salary, professional development, recruitment, expenses, and other scholarly activities of the dean of the Pitt School of Education. It also provides broad financial support for areas of greatest need and strategic importance across the school.

Valerie Kinloch, the Renée and Richard Goldman Dean of the Pitt School of Education, says the early payment on the Goldman gift comes at an important time.

"Our school is immensely grateful to Renée and Richard Goldman for their lifelong commitment to our School of Education and to our educational goals and priorities. Their support provides us with the resources needed to fulfill our commitment to learning, equity, justice, innovation, and well-being. It is important for our School to support students to ignite learning, strive for well-being for all, and disrupt and transform inequitable educational structures. To say that I am happy by the Goldman gift is an understatement. I am honored to call them friends, supporters, and educational advocates," says Kinloch. 

Gifts to Pitt will take center stage on Tuesday, February 23, 2021 when the University holds its fifth-annual Pitt Day of Giving. Every school and unit across Pitt will join forces for 24 hours to encourage alumni, students, and friends to raise money for the school.

A Legacy of Giving

The Goldmans have a strong connection to the Pitt School of Education. 

Renée K. Goldman earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Pitt’s Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences in 1963 and a Master of Education degree from the Pitt School of Education in 1965, along with a Doctor of Education degree from Nova Southeastern University in 1985.

Richard Goldman earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Pitt's Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences in 1964, followed by a Master of Education degree in 1966 and a PhD in 1970, both from the Pitt School of Education.

Both received the Pitt School of Education's Distinguished Alumni Award: Renée Goldman in 2016 and Richard Goldman in 2013.

"Renée and Richard are exceptional alumni with a lifelong commitment to Pitt that is generous, heartfelt, impactful, and inspiring," says Michael Haas, director of development and alumni affairs at the School of Education. "By paying off their cash pledge early, they provide support to students at a time they need it the most," says Haas.

In addition to their $3 million gift to establish the endowed deanship, the Goldmans have made other gifts to the Pitt School of Education. In 2013, they established the Richard M. and Renée K. Goldman Educational Entrepreneurial Fund with a $50,000 gift to support the development of online programming in the area of educational entrepreneurship. Additionally, the Goldmans fund an annual $2,500 award to a student in the Pitt School of education who has overcome barriers in their education. 

Ahead of the Curve in Business

For more than three decades, Renée and Richard Goldman have worked together to create innovative educational ventures in south Florida. Their projects provide online schooling to a broad range of students, including adults needing a second chance to complete high school.

Among the family’s past business ventures:

  • In the mid-1980s, the Goldmans created Another Generation Preschools. Serving the Fort Lauderdale/West Palm Beach area, the business grew into a chain of preschools notable for its focus on high-quality instruction through fully-certified teachers.

  • In 1996, the Goldmans founded The Sagemont School, a K-12 college preparatory school that was among the first schools in the nation to establish a laptop program for all students. The school had a highly international, multicultural student body, with students from over 25 countries.

  • In 2002, the Goldmans developed the University of Miami Online High School. Offered in partnership with the University of Miami, the school grew to nearly 3,000 students. The school filled a niche for students who had busy lives as athletes and entertainers.

  • In 2010, the Goldmans launched the first accredited online high school aimed at the 40 million American adults who lack a high school diploma, Smart Horizons Career Online High School. Major corporations, including McDonald's and Hilton Worldwide, partnered with the school as part of employee educational development programs. So far, 10,000 adults have earned their high school diploma from Smart Horizons Career Online and approximately 70% have progressed into post-secondary education. 

Today, the Goldmans, along with son, Brent Goldman, operate the Xceed Preparatory Academy and Xceed Anywhere in south Florida. The preparatory academy offers a hybrid format where students can attend in person or take courses online. Xceed Anywhere is a fully online option that also offers online tutoring services, online college counseling, and the opportunity to earn 12 college credits at the University of Pittsburgh.

"If there's a theme in our business story, it's that we've been ahead of the curve," says Richard Goldman. 

Now, the Goldmans have chosen to pay it forward by supporting the Pitt School of Education. 

Richard Goldman says he takes satisfaction in seeing the impact of the gifts now. It is a lesson he learned from the generosity of his late father. 

"I'm thinking of my father who would give gifts so he could see the impact while he was still alive rather than after he was no longer here," he says.

Support the Pitt School of Education

  • Make a gift of any amount on the 2021 Pitt Day of Giving on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. You have the option of designating your support among different areas of need at the Pitt School of Education.

  • Explore planned giving options that can support the school. Contact Michael Haas, director of development and alumni relations, at mbh26@pitt.edu to learn more or visit the Pitt Planned Giving website.

  • Review all giving options by visiting the Ways to Give website of the Pitt School of Education.