Online High School Created by Alum Richard Goldman Partners with Amazon

Alumni Feature

Young woman learning online at a computer

A University of Pittsburgh alumnus with a forward-thinking approach to K-12 education is making a new alliance.

An online high school co-founded by Richard M. Goldman (BA A&S ’64; MEd ’66, PhD ’70) has partnered with Amazon to provide the company’s global workforce with a pathway to a high school diploma.

Smart Horizons Career Online Education (SHCOE), based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is an accredited online school district that primarily serves adult learners. To date, almost 13,000 adults have graduated from the school. Their average age is 30 and nearly two-thirds of them are from minoritized backgrounds. 

“Our graduates were often pushed out of traditional high schools,” says Goldman. “Smart Horizons Career Online Education offers a second chance for these individuals, which leads to a dramatic increase in their life-long income.”

The new partnership allows employees in the Amazon Career Choice program to earn a high school diploma and career certificate at no cost from SHCOE. The entry-level career certificates are offered in manufacturing, retail customer service, office management, commercial driving, childcare and education, and additional fields.

“It will empower Amazon employees with easy access to the education and training they need to advance in their careers, either at Amazon or elsewhere,” says Howard Liebman, superintendent of schools and co-founder of SHCOE. 

In 2009, Liebman started SHCOE with Goldman after reading a report from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation about the tens of millions of adults who lacked a high school diploma. The report estimated that a majority of these high school drop-outs have the abilities needed to earn their high school diploma if they were given another chance.

Richard Goldman and Howard Liebman

SHCOE has employee education partnerships with other large corporations, including McDonald’s, Kroger, CVS Health, Goodwill Industries, Checkers & Rally’s Restaurants, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, First Watch Restaurants, Banfield Pet Hospital, Intermountain Health, and Atrium Health. Additionally, SHCOE partners with hundreds of public library systems, career and community colleges, and workforce development boards around the country.

“In today’s job market, tuition assistance is one of the many incentives that companies are using to attract and keep workers. Not only does free or discounted tuition improve recruitment and retention, but it also cuts down on student debt, while advancing the long-term wellbeing of employees,” says Liebman.

Goldman, who is a member of the Pitt Education Board of Visitors, has three degrees from Pitt. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Pitt's Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences in 1964, and his Master of Education degree in 1966 and PhD in 1970 from Pitt Education. His wife, Renée K. Goldman, also has two degrees from Pitt: 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 Pitt Education in 1965.

Goldman, the founder of several other education companies and schools, currently operates Xceed Preparatory Academy and Xceed Anywhere, along with son, Brent Goldman, in south Florida.

In 2014, he and his wife made a $3 million gift to establish an endowed dean's chair in their name at the School of Education. They paid off the full balance of the gift in January 2020, at the onset of the pandemic. 

Goldman is proud of his family’s entrepreneurial ventures and believes they reflect the values of Pitt Education. 

“The Pitt School of Education’s commitment to equity and inclusion is at the heart of Smart Horizon’s mission,” says Goldman.

Learn More

Read the Smart Horizons Career Online Education official announcement about the new partnership with Amazon.