Martha L. Karsh

Martha Karsh, a University of Virginia and Virginia Law School graduate, has practiced law, co-founded an architectural and design firm, and devoted over 25 years to philanthropy after launching the Karsh Family Foundation with her husband Bruce in 1998. To date, the Karshes have committed over $400 million to support their three priorities: education, community and democracy.

Martha has served since 2012 on the national KIPP Foundation Board; she co-chairs UVA’s bicentennial “Honor the Future Campaign;” is a Trustee Emerita of Virginia Law School Foundation; and sits on the advisory Board for the Institute of Democracy at UVA.

In higher education, the Karshes have supported financial aid, professorships, and student and alumni life. They have established major scholarship programs at Duke, Virginia Law School, University of Pennsylvania, Howard, Spelman, and Brown; two programs—at Howard and Virginia Law School—are top merit scholarships. They are major supporters of UNCF and, at the K-12 level, of KIPP, Teach for America, and Charter School Growth Fund. The Karshes led KIPP’s growth in Southern California from 2 to 20 schools.

In 2023, both Bruce and Martha were awarded Honorary Doctorates at Howard University’s 155th commencement. In 2024, UNCF honored them with the President’s Award at its 80th Anniversary Gala.

To support their community, they founded the Karsh Social Service Center at Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Los Angeles in 2016, providing essential services and a food pantry to those in need. They are also major supporters of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the LA Mayor’s Fund, Painted Turtle Camp, Jewish Federation, and Skirball Cultural Center, among others.

Determined to promote and strengthen American democracy, the Karshes founded the Center for Law and Democracy at Virginia Law School in 2018, and the University-wide Institute of Democracy at UVA in 2021. To date, their commitments to UVA for education and democracy are approximately $100 million.

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