Scholarship honoring the life of Karli Short grows to include University Park

three family members pose at the Greater Allegheny Lion Shrine

Penn State alumnus and Board of Trustees member Brandon Short, center, and his wife Mahreen, right, are honoring their late daughter Karli, left, through the Karli Short Better Tomorrow Foundation. The foundation provides financial assistance through a scholarship for Penn State undergraduates grappling with the fallout of gun violence, and the Shorts are inviting other donors to support the fund.

Credit: Courtesy of the Short family. All Rights Reserved.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — When Karli Short lost her life to gun violence in September 2021, her family said they wanted to create a legacy that celebrated her spirit and drew meaning from their tragedy.  

“When we searched for ways to honor Karli and support victims of gun violence, we could think of no better way than to help students achieve the American dream by supporting their education and creating a better tomorrow,” said Brandon Short, Karli’s father and a 1999 Penn State alumnus and current Board of Trustees member.

With his wife, Mahreen Short, Brandon formed the Karli Short Better Tomorrow Foundation in 2022, and gifts from family, friends and other donors have allowed the foundation to endow the Karli Short Better Tomorrow Scholarship for Penn State students with financial need who have been affected by gun violence. The first awards were made at Penn State Greater Allegheny, the campus in Brandon Short’s hometown of McKeesport. Now, as the foundation approaches its third annual fundraising event, to be held June 7, its success in garnering support in Karli Short’s memory is growing the scholarship’s scope to include students enrolled at University Park.

“Sadly, gun violence continues to impact the lives of too many young people, but with over $800,000 raised to date, we can offer scholarships and hope to more students who are trying to create a better tomorrow for themselves and their families,” said Brandon Short. “We believe that the best way to celebrate Karli is to help these students overcome trauma and loss and pursue their dreams.”

To date, the Karli Short Better Tomorrow Scholarship has been awarded to five Penn State Greater Allegheny students. Each year going forward, the first five scholarships funded by the scholarship endowment will be awarded to students at the campus, with the next five scholarships directed to undergraduates enrolled at University Park. Any additional funds can support scholarships for students throughout the University who have been affected by gun violence.

“The trauma and burden that come from being connected to a tragic loss of this manner creates scars that are most often invisible,” said Megan Nagel, chancellor and chief academic officer at Penn State Greater Allegheny. “A scholarship dedicated specifically for students impacted by gun violence acknowledges this burden and sends a clear message that there can truly be a better tomorrow. By easing some of the financial burden of a higher education along with the mentorship and connection to the Karli Short Better Tomorrow Foundation, I believe there can truly be a lasting impact.”

The expansion of the scholarship beyond Penn State Greater Allegheny will help the University to meet the needs of undergraduates pursuing many different paths to a brighter future, and Penn State President Neeli Bendapudi offered her gratitude to the Short family and the scholarship’s supporters. “Penn State has always represented opportunity for our students, and opportunity is especially precious for those who have faced tragedy and yet are persevering toward their hopes and goals,” she said. “The University is deeply grateful to the Short family for entrusting us with carrying forward Karli’s legacy of compassion and kindness and inspiring us to serve students who will represent her values throughout their lives.”

Donors who contribute to the Karli Short Better Tomorrow Scholarship advance the University’s historic land-grant mission to serve and lead. Through philanthropy, alumni and friends are helping students to join the Penn State family and prepare for lifelong success; driving research, outreach and economic development that grow our shared strength and readiness for the future; and increasing the University’s impact for families, patients, and communities across the commonwealth and around the world. Learn more by visiting