2019–20 Grant Opportunities

Have a great idea? We fund those.

The Jefferson Trust is excited to announce two funding opportunities for the 2019–20 academic year. In addition to our long-standing annual cycle, Flash Funds will return in the spring semester.

We will be holding information sessions this fall! Please join us:

  • Tuesday, 9/3, 5:00 p.m.—Clemmons Library
  • Thursday, 9/5, 3:30 p.m.—Manning Pavilion, Alumni Hall
  • Sunday, 9/8, 12:00 p.m.—Clemmons Library
  • Thursday, 9/12, 3:00 p.m.—Clemmons Library
  • Monday, 9/16, 5:30 p.m.—Clemmons Library
  • Thursday, 9/19, 3:00 p.m.—Clemmons Library
  • Monday, 9/23, 5:30 p.m.—Clemmons Library
  • Thursday, 9/26, 3:00 p.m.—Clemmons Library

The 2019–20 annual cycle proposal form is available now. To get started, review our grant guidelines, tips, and FAQ’s, then log in to the proposal system.

Flash funds will be available starting in January 2020. Look for the forms to go live in December.

The Growth of Big Data

Phil Bourne, director of the UVA Data Science Institute

In 2013 “Big Data” at UVA included a $100,000 Jefferson Trust grant that helped:

  • support the creation of fellowship opportunities for graduate students from different departments to work together on important problems requiring data science for their solution
  • provide opportunities for cross disciplinary collaborations
  • provide greater visibility to the innovative and important data science work occurring at UVA

“In 2012 there were no pan-university institutes, and not as many interdisciplinary collaborations happening. The idea to put graduate students at the center of this was key because we intended to “use” them as gluons of sorts that would also facilitate exchanges and collaboration between their faculty advisors/mentors, and undergraduates working on the project” shares Phil Trella, Director of the Office of Graduate & Postdoctoral Affairs, and co-signer on the original grant.

Fast forward to spring 2019, and the University announced that the School of Data Science will be the institution’s next school. This is something neither Trella nor Don Brown, Founding Director of the Data Science Institute (DSI), ever envisioned in the early days of “big data”. “We did hope to grow DSI to be “the” major research institute at UVA” Brown admitted. Trella believes “…a lot has happened (quickly!) with convergence toward common methodologies, practices, philosophy, etc. that has moved data science from a loose set of tools and problems toward a new and burgeoning discipline.” Both Trella and Brown, along with Phil Bourne, current Director of the Data Science Institute, attribute DSI’s success to positively fostering collaborations between disciplines, support from senior leadership at UVA, and collaboration of faculty members in schools across the University. “A vision of a School without walls which supports interdisciplinary research and education at a time of extreme demand for data science expertise across all sectors” shares Bourne.

“The Jefferson Trust’s early investment in novel (high risk!) research I think allowed us to demonstrate that data science really touches upon all fields.  We’ve had fellows in our program now from virtually every school and across divisions including humanities, life sciences, social sciences, etc. It was a challenge at first getting students to think of data science as something that could not just inform, but be integrated into, their work but these days we have far less convincing and explaining to do on that front” explains Trella. Bourne says that the Trust’s recent grant to the Data Science Institute to support collaboration with the local community is a further example of support which cross-cuts both UVA’s mission at large and that of the School of Data Science.

As the School of Data Science looks to the future, Bourne admits the difficult part will be deciding what not to do at a time of enormous demand. “We will share a strategic plan which addresses this challenge with clear goals and deliverables over the next 5 years.” Brown also shares some challenges will include hiring world class faculty to create the research and educational programs that will make us international leaders, creating new Ph.D. and undergraduate programs that will enable us to educate the next generation of leaders in data science, addressing and prioritizing new and emerging research challenges in data science, machine learning, artificial intelligence and their applications, and responding to the needs of UVA, Virginia, and our local community for data science services.

A Virtual Exploration of Grounds

Example of an interactive map showing the Academical Village

When Guoping Huang, Assistant Professor and Graduate Program Director of Urban & Environmental Planning, received funding for a Jefferson Trust grant in 2018, his plan for his project, “A Virtual Exploration of Central Grounds Through Time and Space” was to digitize and geo-reference various existing data collections such as building footprints, trails, vegetation, historic photos, and notable persons and trees. Using the latest Geographic Information Systems (GIS), digital visualization, and Virtual Reality (VR), he wanted to present the data collections online as 2D and 3D maps with a time slider, so any user could explore the history of UVA’s central grounds through time and space. The grant allowed Huang to hire students to complete challenging geo-referencing and digitization tasks, while giving student assistants opportunities to learn some of the latest technologies and techniques from Huang himself, fostering a collaborative environment.

Over a year into the project, his team’s biggest success has been the bringing together of large collections of historic photos, maps, documents, GIS data sets, and 3D models into one spatial database. “Originally, these collections are scattered around in different offices and archives in the University. But now, you can query these collections by time and space in our new centralized system.” Huang shares.

After the team started to assemble pieces of historic evidences, they noticed many gaps in their research. “…we know there used to be a winter gymnasium standing right in the middle of the south end of the Lawn from 1858 to 1893, but its three-dimensional shape has not been documented. We have to dig into the Proctor’s Papers for the expenses in order to determine if it had a tin roof, or if had a stepped roof with clerestory lights at each level. The detail of the payments might give us a clue when we make 3D model of the gymnasium.” Due to these gaps, Huang and team feel that we still have much to learn about the history of the University.

View of the interactive map that identifies the trees around the Academical Village, including the Pratt Ginkgo

Huang is excited for the future, and the possibilities that users could experience in a virtual reality environment. “Imagine you visit Central Grounds for the first time in the future and you could load a web map onto your cellphone. As you walk around, the web map would not only tell you the history of the buildings and gardens you see, but also show you what this place used to look like. You could see historic photos taken at the same place where you’re standing, facing the same direction. If you want, you could also put your cellphone in a Google Cardboard to see the history unfold in an immersive Virtual Reality environment!” This funding has allowed the group to build something that can be used by teachers, students, and visitors in the years to come. Huang admits, “If the project turns out to be successful, some additional funding might allow us to extend the scope to more historic places that our alumni and visitors want to see!”

Developing Tools to Transform Student Experiences

Screenshot of a web-based teaching observation tool to document what actually happens in college classrooms at UVA

How do today’s professors teach? This is a question a 2019 grant recipient group is trying to evaluate and answer. Karen Inkelas, with colleagues Lindsay Wheeler, Michael Redwine, and Alison Levine are “Developing Tools to Transform Student Experiences”—creating a web-based teaching observation tool to document what actually happens in college classrooms at UVA. These observations will not only shed light on how faculty teach, but also use the data to work with instructors and the broader university to improve teaching at UVA.  The program was created in response to numerous calls to improve college teaching. Says Michael Redwine, “It seemed somewhat presumptuous to tell professors that they need to change how they teach when we don’t really know how they actually teach. So, we set out to create a classroom teaching observation online tool to document what actually happens in college classrooms at UVA.”

After receiving small start-up research funds from the Curry School of Education and the 3 Cavaliers Fund, Inkelas and her team knew they needed a larger set of funds. “The Jefferson Trust was the ideal source, because we knew that the [Trust] was keenly interested in projects designed to enhance and improve the UVA student experience, and what could be more central to that mission than better understanding and improving teaching!” she shared. They are planning to use Jefferson Trust funding for hiring a large number of undergraduates to help build the observation tools (computer science majors) and to test and refine it in classrooms. Funding will also help with the expenses of the required large server data space needed for collecting and storing the observation data.

The team plans to build a broad suite of digital tools to integrate with the observation tool, so that they can understand how teaching and instruction relate to students’ performance, students’ course evaluations and involvement, and faculty use of technology. Observation tools will document classroom teaching and learning, visualization tools transform the observation data into visual graphics, and analysis tools will use the observation data for research purposes. The Center for Teaching Excellence also plans to use the suite of tools as part of their teaching consultation program for research initiatives. Inkelas conveys “We truly are excited to see all of the ways we can use the teaching observation data to improve both instruction and the student experience.”

Announcing our 2019 Flash Funding Grants

This spring the Jefferson Trust launched a new funding opportunity – Flash Funds. Awarded on a monthly basis as long as funds last, Flash Funds seek to meet more immediate needs of the University community.

Eight awards totaling just over $50,000 were funded in March and April. These flash grants include:

Virginia Quarterly Review Podcast Initiative: $8,000
The goal is to launch a radio storytelling series that brings the magazine’s artful style and civic relevance to a globally syndicated podcast—modeled after The New Yorker Radio Hour and The Daily from The New York Times. VQR, one of the country’s most prestigious literary journals, won a National Magazine Award for general excellence this year.

Lightbulb: $10,000
Lightbulb is a unique web platform for college campuses that connects people with ideas to people who have the skill to implement them—helping overcome the most fundamental problem that aspiring entrepreneurs face. Users can approach the platform with an idea (while looking for the right talent to execute it) or as someone with valuable skills to help others with their ideas.

WICS Hack for the Future: $1,400
Women in Computing Sciences (WiCS) supports and celebrates the growing community of women in computing. Every year, WiCS hosts a hackathon at UVA to inspire coders (specifically targeting minorities in the CS industry) to create innovative projects and build their confidence through various workshops. Funding will expand this hackathon in its second year.

Coding for Kids: $2,400
This program supplements the technology and computer science curricula at Charlottesville City Schools—helping combat the pipeline problem in STEM fields through face-to-face, interactive, small-group lessons led by students and faculty from UVA’s McIntire School of Commerce.

Solar Education Community Outreach Program: $2,850
The program teaches Charlottesville middle school students about the logistics and benefits of solar technology, providing a greater understanding of our society’s options with respect to energy sources.

Community Engagement Training Video: $7,940
The Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Outreach will create a set of short training videos for UVA students seeking community service opportunities.

Echols Scholars Symposium: $10,000
Echols Scholars, while in their final year as undergraduates, will present what they have learned from their coursework in individual fields of study and at the intersection of various disciplines.

Ripple Fellowship: $10,000
This summer intensive is dedicated to training students in venture development, that they might eventually serve as entrepreneurial mentors for their peers—transforming UVA’s entrepreneurial culture as well as pioneering a national model.

Trustee Spotlight: Hanson Slaughter

Hanson Slaughter (COM ’94) joined the Jefferson Trust (the “Trust”) in the 2017-2018 academic year. The impetus for Hanson joining the Trust dates back to his undergraduate years when he approached Alumni Hall for a loan for one of his extracurricular activities. After a meeting with several people regarding the nature and use of the loan, Alumni Hall funded the request, which Hanson ensured was paid back prior to graduation.

As the University continues to grow, Hanson feels strongly about having an accessible resource where those affiliated with UVA may seek reasonable funding for projects that demonstrate creativity and ingenuity, which promote intellectual engagement and the advancement of UVA’s mission as a preeminent institution of higher learning. This passion for grant performance and organizational growth has led Hanson to serve on both the Oversight Committee and Development Committee of the Trust, where he now serves as Chair. Hanson is also a co-chair of his class reunion giving committee.

Hanson is a Managing Director with 1919 Investment Counsel, a boutique investment advisory firm focused on high-net-worth, family office, and institutional clients, for which he opened the Birmingham office in 2015. Previously, Hanson was the President of Trust Company of Sterne Agee and head of the family office group, which he began in 2011. Hanson’s personal and professional knowledge of planned giving and his work developing philanthropic strategies have been a great benefit to the University and the Jefferson Trust.

Hanson is a native of Birmingham, Alabama where he lives with his wife, Melissa, and two children. He also serves on the boards of CommerceOne Bank, Indian Springs School (Chair, Stewardship & Planned Giving), and the Sterne Agee Charitable Foundation (President). He is a member of the Rotary Club of Birmingham and past Chairman of the Birmingham Botanical Society.

UVA Intramural-Recreational Sports Award Winners

Each spring, The Jefferson Trust awards two $2,500 Intramural-Recreational Awards to club athletic teams that excel in the areas of commitment, leadership and service to the community. This year, the Running Club at UVA and Virginia Riding Team were recipients at an early April ceremony.

With over two hundred active members a season, the Running Club at UVA is one of the largest clubs on Grounds. Team members practice six days a week to train for the season’s upcoming meets, following workouts and training runs prepared by the team’s elected workout coordinators. Some members are not competitive in meets, but participate in the club to stay physically active with a fun, social group.

Challenging and dedicated training has made the Running Club competitive, both in their track and cross country meets; since 2016, they have had many athletes earn All-American status. This past season the men’s cross country team earned 3rd place at the National Intercollegiate Running Club Association Cross Country Regionals, and the women’s cross country team had one All-American finisher, with a team finish of 8th (out of 27). The Running Club also hosts an annual track meet in the spring and cross country meet in the fall, and both meets have drawn many teams from the mid-Atlantic region, garnering attention as one of the largest meets in the country.

When not running on the track or cross country course, the Running Club is busy in the Charlottesville running community. Each year they organize a charity 5k for the local chapter of Girls on the Run, as well as this year hosting a “Run-a-thon” for St. Jude’s. Also this year, the club worked with the Charlottesville Track Club to help execute the Charlottesville 10-miler with pre-race and race day volunteer efforts.

The Virginia Riding Team is comprised of 70 team members with varied riding experience, from true beginners to advanced riders. Members can choose to take lessons once or twice a week, ride without instruction as often as they like, and participate in a free clinic with a professional trainer each spring.

The Riding Team competes in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) Circuit and Collegiate Cup, with each format offering unique riding opportunities. At IHSA riders draw a horse’s name out of a hat, then ride the horse with no warm-up, and at Collegiate Cup members compete on horses they have practiced with before. Both formats have been successful for UVA Riding; at IHSA the team placed second in the region this year, sent four individuals to regionals, and are sending three individuals to Zones. At the Collegiate Cup, the team has won Champion the last two years, and individual riders have placed highly as well. While some team members choose not to participate in competitions, the team works to cover the cost of showing so that competitors are never chosen based on an ability to financially afford the extra cost.

Additionally, the Riding Team works closely with the Charlottesville Area Riding Therapy (CART), sending volunteers throughout the semester to work with the horses and give lessons to children and adults with disabilities.

Both the Running Club and Riding Team pride themselves on their sense of community, inclusivity, and togetherness. Supporting each other in competition, training, and giving back to the Charlottesville community are keys that make these club sports successful and impactful for team members.

Madison Lane & Rugby Road Charitable Trust Visual Arts Prize 2019

The annual Madison Lane and Rugby Road Charitable Trust Visual Arts Prize is intended to expand students’ opportunities for creative expression and to showcase significant accomplishments in the Arts. A $2,500 award is presented through The Jefferson Trust in partnership with UVA Arts to one undergraduate or graduate student each spring. A student’s submitted work must be created while he or she is enrolled at UVA, and eligible medias include: drawing, painting, watercolor, film/video, photography or sculpture.

The 2019 Madison Lane and Rugby Road Charitable Trust Visual Arts Prize was awarded to Kirsten Hemrich for her painting Celestial Spheres #2. This 54” x 54” piece was created using oil, spray paint, and charcoal on canvas. Kirsten’s paintings are made over the course of many weeks during which she   layers diaristic drawings, text, and abstractions of celestial bodies. This particular painting references early astronomical diagrams, as well as the Roman god of doorways, “Janus.” Over time each layer gets buried and beaten back into the surface. Parts of the painting fall away, get reborn, and change entirely through an intuitive process. Even after the painting is finished, the surface will change ever slightly over time due to the materials used. For Kirsten, this ever-changing surface is a metaphor for our own personal narratives- “for how we weave the abstractions of our experiences into story and furthermore, identity. The story of the past is unending, always changing. This phenomenon is what I chase through my creative practice.”

Jefferson Trust Announces $800,000 in Grants for Innovating Education

The Jefferson Trust, an initiative of the University of Virginia Alumni Association, approved 13 new grants totaling $800,579 after a dedicated review process.

Many of the grants this year sought to provide innovative educational experiences for University of Virginia students.

Established by the Alumni Association in 2006, the Jefferson Trust has invested in 192 initiatives, representing over $7.8 million, brought forth by students and faculty representing all 11 schools and a myriad of programs and organizations at UVA. With grant awards ranging from as little as $2,500 to as much as $100,000, all of these seed-funded projects add exceptional value to the UVA experience. Many evolve to become a permanent part of the fabric of the University’s life and legacy

The 2019 grants include:

Rotunda Planetarium: $30,000
The Rotunda Planetarium reconstructs Thomas Jefferson’s inaugural vision for the Rotunda Library’s dome room. The Rotunda Planetarium will run from November 2019 until June 2020.

Infectious Disease in 3D: $99,945
The proposed “Infectious Disease in 3D” program aims to build VR and AR content for teaching complex biological information in UVA classrooms. The end product will directly benefit UVA classrooms by enhancing motivation and retention of material.

Religion, Race, and Democracy: An Undergraduate Multimedia Research Project: $100,000
The Religion Lab will offer to undergraduate Student Research Collaborators:  1.) Regular training and mentorship; 2.) Funding and technology; 3.) A website to publish the research. They will also benefit from the expertise and guidance of Religion Lab faculty and staff.

Cadaver-specific virtual dissection table: $70,491
An initiative to provide state of the art interactive and psychometric learning to students in Kinesiology for the enhancement of knowledge in anatomy and patient care leading to the development of unparalleled clinical skills.

Developing Tools to Transform Student Experiences: $141,173
To develop and use web-based observation tools to not only shed light on how UVA faculty teach in their classrooms, but also to use the data from the tools to work with instructors and the broader university to improve teaching at UVA. 

UVA Medical Design Program: Phase II: $81,500
The UVA Medical Design Program (UVAMDP) provides first-year medical students with hands-on instruction in the application of design thinking to address healthcare challenges. 

Student Veteran’s Support Initiative: $60,000
The Veteran’s Support Initiative is seeking support to set up a structure to better meet the needs of student veterans.

Data for the Social Good: $50,000
With support from the Jefferson Trust, faculty, staff, students and alumni of the Data Science Institute will develop a set of tools to match community non-profits needing data analysis help with students and service-learning classes that can provide it.

Concussion and Headaches: $25,837.02
This project proposes to study administration of magnesium and riboflavin (two common supplements) as agents to reduce the length of time a student might experience headache following concussion.

The Flux Poetry Series: $21,800
The project proposal is a three-semester-long poetry series that will invite award-winning and influential poets to host workshops, performances, consultations, and more, bolstering the already-thriving art community at UVA. 

Madayin Aboriginal Art Catalog: $56,000
The Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of the University of Virginia seeks funding to produce a fully-illustrated scholarly catalog to accompany the touring exhibition “Madayin: Eight Decades of Aboriginal Bark Painting from Yirrkala, Australia.”

Reshaping Public and Archival Space: $32,260
The project is the first attempt to capture testimonies video graphically about the Black nursing experience, to be made available to a large audience. The project aims to enhance visibility of Black nurses in archives and public spaces via written documents, photographs, videos, and exhibitions.

Minority Youth Development Program: $31,573
This program aims to increase the number of underrepresented minorities, especially African-Americans, pursuing careers in architecture.