Our Story

Our story begins in Brooklyn in 1919, where Stanley H. Kaplan was born. A gifted student and natural-born teacher, Stanley started tutoring his peers as a young boy. From the beginning, he believed that with focused instruction and hard work, every student had the potential to learn and excel.

In 1938, after graduating from the City College of New York at the tender age of 19, Stanley channeled this belief and passion into the Stanley H. Kaplan Educational Center. Challenging the conventional wisdom of the day, Stanley formed a company that taught students how to do better on standardized tests, the kind that were supposed to measure innate ability not learned ability. His innovative approach and dogged belief in his students led to dramatic results and the birth of a new industry – test-prep. By giving students tools to break testing barriers Stanley, in effect, democratized education.

Along the way, Stanley met a young Rita Gwirtzman. Rita, a social worker who was passionate about advocating on behalf of vulnerable people, shared Stanley’s intellectual rigor, and his witty sense of humor and quirky interests. On their first date, Stanley took Rita to watch the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel being built.

The two were married in 1949 and had three children: Susan, Nancy and Paul.

The Kaplan Educational Center was a family business. Rita kept the books and taught some of the verbal courses. Susan, Nancy and Paul began their careers in the family business as young children. Susan and Nancy regularly proctored practice exams, while Paul helped manage the finances, starting at the tender age of eight.

In 1984, the business was sold to the Washington Post Company and renamed Kaplan, Inc. Rita and Stanley used some of the proceeds of that sale to create the Rita J. & Stanley H. Kaplan Family Foundation.

And so, a new family business was born. With three generations of the Kaplan family currently on the Board, the Foundation embodies the same values and modus operandi as the original family business: passion, innovation, results.

Since its founding, the Foundation has granted nearly $35M to organizations in the arts, education, health, Jewish and social areas. For more information, see our Statistics page.