Howard University Receives $10M from Martha and Bruce Karsh; Largest Gift in its History

The gift establishes the Martha and Bruce Karsh STEM Scholars Program and Lomax KIPP Scholarships

Howard University proudly announces a generous $10 million gift from the Karsh Family Foundation to endow its prestigious and highly competitive STEM program, which will be renamed the Karsh STEM Scholars Program (KSSP). Founded in 2017, the program is designed to increase the number of underrepresented minorities earning a Ph.D. or combined M.D./Ph.D. in a STEM discipline. This is the largest gift in Howard University history.

The gift also creates the Lomax KIPP Scholarships, a unique, debt-free financial aid program for graduates of KIPP, the Knowledge is Power Program, a nationwide network of high performing public schools in underserved communities. Lomax KIPP Scholarships are named in honor of Michael L. Lomax, CEO and president of United Negro College Fund (UNCF), and a longtime distinguished advocate and inspiration for African American students seeking higher education.

“We are inspired by Dr. Lomax’s passion to remove all obstacles for underserved students, and his relentless passion to advocate for HBCUs.”Martha and Bruce Karsh

“We are grateful to Martha and Bruce Karsh for their transformative investment and support of  our students and our vision to create a diverse workforce of highly-skilled scholars equipped to take on careers in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math,” said President Wayne A. I. Frederick, M.D., MBA. “When we created this program, with the support of the Board of Trustees, we envisioned building a model program to demonstrate how higher education can serve as a pipeline to diversify STEM fields nationally, but we knew it wouldn’t be sustainable without external resources. This gift will ensure that Howard can train the nation’s brightest students who desire to obtain their Ph.D. or combined M.D./Ph.D. for generations to come.”

The Karshes’ gift will support the overall KSSP graduate scholarship and ensure its future viability to fund cohorts of approximately 30 scholars per year. The announcement arrives just as applications for the fourth cohort are streaming in prior to the Jan. 30 application deadline.

“We are excited to endow this visionary program at Howard,” said Martha and Bruce Karsh.
“Simply put, we believe education, expertise and research in STEM fields will define mankind’s future, and we are proud to be able to help Howard attract and support the best and brightest students for its already renowned program.”

According to the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, Howard University is the No. 1 baccalaureate institution of African American science and engineering doctorate recipients.

Each year, the STEM program attracts hundreds of competitive high school students who are interested in careers as research scientists, surgeons, policy makers and corporate leaders. Scholars selected for the program receive a scholarship that covers 100 percent of the tuition and fees associated with attendance. The program provides an inclusive learning environment to challenge students, through rigorous coursework, mentorship and immersion experiences.

“Thanks to this generous gift, the Karsh STEM Scholars Program will realize its full potential to cultivate a workforce pipeline of talented students from underrepresented communities who are well equipped to become leaders in the global STEM community,” said KSSP Program Director Ronald Smith.

The Karsh Family Foundation was founded in 1998 by Bruce A. Karsh, Oaktree Capital Management co-founder and co-chairman, and his wife Martha L. Karsh, an attorney and designer. The Foundation’s philanthropic focus and mission is educational equity and opportunity; to date, it has made gifts and pledges of approximately $250 million to support education and scholarship at all levels.

“We are inspired by Dr. Lomax’s passion to remove all obstacles for underserved students, and his relentless passion to advocate for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs),” said Martha and Bruce Karsh. “We share his vision of creating a more equitable and affordable education system from preschool to graduate school, and we are proud to honor his name with this scholarship at an institution as prestigious and historically significant as Howard University.”

Martha Karsh serves on the board of the KIPP Foundation along with Dr. Lomax, where together, they have collaborated to secure scholarships and other educational support for KIPP graduates and African American students. The Lomax KIPP Scholarships help make college more accessible to deserving students and is unique in that it promises a debt-free education for its recipients.

“Thank you, Martha and Bruce for helping to build a pipeline of KIPP students to HBCUs and for believing as I do that ‘a mind is a terrible thing to waste, but a wonderful thing to invest in,’®” said Dr. Michael L. Lomax, President and CEO of UNCF.

Two Lomax KIPP Scholarships will be awarded each year. Each scholarship will cover the gap between financial aid and the cost of attendance, ensuring students have full coverage to graduate debt-free in four years. The first recipients will be selected this spring, entering Howard University in fall 2020. The gift also designates on campus support for all KIPP alumni at the university. Currently, 53 KIPP graduates are enrolled at Howard University.

“We are filled with gratitude for the continuous support the Karsh family, Dr. Lomax and Howard University have given to our KIPP students,” said Richard Barth, CEO of the KIPP Foundation. “This scholarship and our partnership with Howard will ensure more KIPP students have access to a phenomenal college education and the opportunity to pursue their passions.”

KIPP surveys show that, at HBCUs like Howard, KIPP alumni report a stronger sense of belonging and stronger health outcomes, and are more likely to have a mentor and to seek out academic supports than students at non-HBCUs. And, KIPP’s early data indicates that KIPP alumni enrolled in HBCUs experience higher 1st to 2nd year persistence rates than peers with similar academic backgrounds enrolled in other colleges. The Karsh gift will fund a shared on-campus persistence advisor for KIPP students; a program that makes a significant difference in the success of first-generation college students. In addition, this donation establishes Howard University as one of almost 100 college partners for KIPP.

Applications are currently being accepted for the fourth cohort of the Karsh STEM Scholars Program at Howard University. The deadline to apply is Jan. 30.  Interested and qualified applicants are encouraged to apply. For more information, visit the Karsh STEM Scholars Program website

About Howard University
Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private, research university that is comprised of 13 schools and colleges. Students pursue studies in more than 120 areas leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. The University operates with a commitment to Excellence in Truth and Service and has produced one Schwarzman Scholar, three Marshall Scholars, four Rhodes Scholars, 11 Truman Scholars, 25 Pickering Fellows and more than 70 Fulbright Scholars. Howard also produces more on-campus African-American Ph.D. recipients than any other university in the United States. For more information on Howard University, visit

About UNCF and Dr. Lomax
Founded in 1944, UNCF, which is the nation’s largest scholarship provider to students of color and was founded on the principle of providing equal access to higher education, has always held true to its motto—A mind is a terrible thing to waste®—over time, raising $5 billion to help more than half a million students graduate from college. UNCF annually awards 10,000 scholarships—$100 million a year—to deserving, students, often the first in their families to go to college. Since 2004, under the leadership of Dr. Lomax, UNCF has raised more than $3 billion and fought for college readiness and education reform through partnerships with reform-focused leaders and organizations and worked to further advance HBCUs with Congress, the administration and the Department of Education. Before joining UNCF, Dr. Lomax was president of Dillard University in New Orleans and a literature professor at Morehouse and Spelman Colleges. He serves on the boards of the KIPP Foundation, America’s Promise, the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of African American History and Culture and the Studio Museum in Harlem.

About KIPP
KIPP, the Knowledge Is Power Program, is a national network of 242 public charter schools dedicated to preparing students in educationally underserved communities for success in college and life. KIPP schools are part of the free public school system and enrollment is open to all students. Started in 1994 as a middle school program, KIPP has since expanded to enroll 100,000 students in all grades from Pre-K through high school. Nationwide, KIPP students complete their bachelor’s degree at a rate comparable to the national average for all students and approximately three times higher than the average for students from low-income families.

Media Contact: Alonda Thomas,