The Martin Family Foundation is dedicated to assisting talented community college students who wish to pursue a college degree at the University of Washington. The foundation exists through the generosity and vision of Benn and Claribel Martin. Benn Martin was a civil engineer who specialized in water and sewer treatment plants for large municipalities on the west coast, including Seattle and San Francisco. Claribel Martin was a parole officer for the City of San Francisco and dedicated her career to assisting individuals build new lives from troubled beginnings. After Claribel's death in the mid 1980s, Benn Martin worked his remaining years to establish a foundation to distribute their assets in a meaningful way.
Benn Martin's education included an engineering degree from New York University, with postgraduate work at the University of Washington. Benn Martin attended community college classes throughout his life. He was impressed with the benefits that the community college system provided, and thought community college students were generally under-appreciated. He decided to focus his attention by assisting these students to pursue a college degree. Benn Martin formed an alliance with the University of Washington Seattle to build a program for honors students who were transferring from the community college system to the University of Washington. Martin Honors Scholars are encouraged to join the Honors Program at the UW and, depending on their choice of major, graduate with Departmental or College Honors. The Foundation was partially funded in 1991 and significantly expanded after Benn Martin's death in 1999.
In September 2007, the Martin Family Foundation was recognized as Laureates of the University of Washington. The Foundation has given over a million dollars of scholarship support to University of Washington students. The Foundation's philanthropy has enhanced the University of Washington's academic excellence and its ability to serve as a vital influence for good in the community and beyond.