Bruce and Martha Karsh

NET WORTH: $2 billion

SOURCE OF WEALTH: Private equity manager, Oaktree Capital Group

FUNDING AREAS: Education, health care, Jewish causes

OVERVIEW: Through the Karsh Family Foundation, Bruce Karsh and his wife Martha give a large donations to educational institutions, nonprofits supporting research into a number of diseases, and Jewish charities. The lion’s share of funding has gone to the family’s alma maters, primarily Duke.  

BACKGROUND: Bruce Karsh attended Duke University as an undergraduate and then the University of Virginia Law school, where he met classmate and future wife, Martha. Karsh founded Los Angeles-based investment firm Oaktree Capital Management with longtime business partner Howard Marks in 1995.


HEALTH: The Karshes have also given to a various health-related institutions focused on such ailments as Tourette’s, juvenile diabetes, and cancer, though not in news-grabbing amounts.

EDUCATION: Brown University, where one of the Karsh children has attended, partnered with Knowledge is Power Program in 2012 to deliver scholarships. The Karshes gave $2.5 million towards the effort. The Karshes’ focus is on the larger impact philanthropy can make on a distressed educational system across the board. They are interested in seeing it through, from grammar school to college, as they donate to institutions that help prepare young students, particularly disadvantaged ones, for lifelong success.

JEWISH CAUSES: The Karshes give to a number of Jewish organizations, including day schools, synagogues, and the Jewish Museum. These grants from very small amounts to two or three hundred thousand dollars (for instance, the Holocaust Center in Washington received just $1,000 in 2009, whereas a Jewish Community Center received $200,000 in 2010).

LOOKING FORWARD: As long as organizations like KIPP and Teach for America keep up the good work in the Karshes’ eyes, or unless something better comes along with an even grander vision for improved education and access, they will likely continue to top the lists of donees.


Marsha L. Karsh, Trustee, Karsh Family Foundation, 1201 Tower Grove Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210, (213) 830-6402