Howard University announces largest gift ever of $10M for STEM program

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 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.

HBCU Buzz