OVERVIEW: Cofounder of Oaktree Capital Management, Bruce Karsh and his wife Martha, established the Karsh Family Foundation, much of whose grantmaking takes places in Los Angeles. The foundation supports a variety of causes. In K-12, Teach for America and charter school network the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) have been strongly funded by the couple.
IP TAKE: Karsh's education funding has supported students at all levels. Unfortunately for grantseekers, the foundation doesn't accept proposals or maintain a website, and contributes only to pre-selected organizations.
PROFILE: Billionaire Brush Karsh attended Duke University and then University of Virginia School of Law, and he is a cofounder of Oaktree Capital Management in Los Angeles. Karsh met his wife, Martha, while the two were classmates at University of Virginia, and their children have attended the University of Pennsylvania and Brown. Significant sums have gone to the family’s alma maters.
In K-12 education at the national level, the couple has strongly supported Teach for America as well as KIPP, where Martha sits on the board of directors. KIPP L.A. has received around $1 million annually in recent years. Teach for America, meanwhile, has received about $1 million annually in recent years, and over $2.5 million in one year alone.
Apart from these two outfits, much - but by no means all - of the couple's education grantmaking has taken place in and around Los Angeles. The couple has given support to organizations throughout the city, including in South L.A., not only through KIPP Los Angeles, but also through L.A.'s Promise, which focuses on youth education and health. The couple has also given modest sums to Homeboy Industries, a unique program that provides free services and programs to young people formerly in gangs. In addition to KIPP, the foundation has also supported other charter outfits in the L.A. area, such as the California Charter Schools Association. The couple also appears to have an interest in supporting families; in recent years, Mar Vista Family Center, Foothill Family Service, and Everychild Foundation have all received support.
The Karshes have not restricted their K-12 support exclusively to at-risk or low-income youth, however. Elite Los Angeles area private schools such as Brentwood School and Harvard-Westlake, for example have received a steady stream of funding. The foundation also recently gave sizeable support to Common Sense Media, a San Francisco-based organization whose website helps parents determine whether books, movies, and other media are age-appropriate for their children.
In addition to education funding, other areas in which the foundation has given support have included Jewish institutions, environmental groups, medical organizations, and the arts.
Perhaps the most notable aspect about Karsh's K-12 philanthropy is that it covers the spectrum from grammar school to college as well as a wide range of schools and services for primary and secondary students. Karsh does not accept unsolicited proposals or maintain an official website, however, so getting on their radar may prove challenging.
- Bruce A. Karsh, Trustee
- Martha L. Karsh, Trustee