2020-21 Annual Cycle Application Now Open!

We fund great ideas from students, faculty, and staff

Whether you’re on Grounds or virtual this semester, the Jefferson Trust Annual Cycle application is open for the 2020-21 academic year! Learn more.

All applications must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. on October 1. Applicants will be notified of funding decisions in February 2021.

To learn more about what the Trust funds, join one of our Virtual Info Sessions on Zoom:

Please contact our Grants Administrator, Amy Bonner, with questions or to schedule a one-on-one appointment about your project.

Flash Funding, which awards grants of $10,000 or less, will be available in the spring semester starting in January 2021. Check our website or Facebook page in December for more information when the application opens.

Have a Great Idea? Read This!


Jefferson Trust award recipients

Interested in applying for a grant, but not sure where to start? Here are insights on the application process, including some tips from Elgin Cleckley, assistant professor in the School of Architecture and a grant recipient with multiple successful submissions to the Trust over several years.

Before submitting a proposal

  • Research! Use the guidelines and additional information provided to determine whether your great idea aligns with the mission of the Jefferson Trust.
  • Use the application to help frame your idea:

“I found the goals of the Trust, creativity, innovation, leadership, and University and/or student experience, as excellent guides when developing ideas for the application. These four points became a rubric — beneficial in discussions in collaborations, evaluation, and testing of the grant ideas, helping to guide the development of program goals and narrative.”

  • Refine your vision:

“A clear, easy to understand narrative is essential — with University, student, and community impacts.

For example, for the Minority Pipeline Architecture Program with Barbara Brown Wilson and the School of Architecture, we were sure to focus on the data of African American students in the field, the established national program through the National Organization of Minority Architects, and details on the adaptation of the project here in Charlottesville.

We were sure to include the leadership roles for students at the School of Architecture, empathic, established connections with community organizations, and above all, lifelong skill building for our local Charlottesville design participants.

The impacts are evident, as the engagement continues this summer online with the UVA Equity Center, with students from the past program.”

  • Reach out. Jefferson Trust staff is here to help — if you have questions, contact us!

During the review process:

  • Be prepared to answer follow-up questions. Trustees may ask for clarifications by email or during presentations to the board.
  • Know your audience. The individuals who comprise the review board span a broad range of industries and life experiences and may or may not be experts in your subject matter.

“It is important to also think of the diversity of the Trust — ensuring that your idea/program is inclusive in its content, guiding your presentation at the interview.

We were sure to bring physical imagery to the interviews, to clarify any points of our idea, and overall, to create excitement.”


  • Keep in touch with the Trust. Let us know how things are going, and what we can do to help.

“It’s helpful for recipients to know of the support network of the Trust, advisors, and recipients. This support network allows for further expansion of your idea / program and provides beneficial guidance during development.”

Above all, the Trust wants its grants to be successful. Many of the most common problems can easily be resolved by reaching out — whether it is a question on how to convey an idea within the proposal, how to address an obstacle during implementation of the program, or how to scale up and manage success.

The Jefferson Trust network includes our highly engaged Trustees, well-connected former grant recipients, and University supporters. Come join us!

Hoos Connected: from Pilot to Full-scale Program

Hoos Connected

Hoos Connected is a University-wide campaign created to help UVA students build cohesive and supportive peer connections. The relationship-building is fostered by students meeting in small groups over the course of 12 weeks. It includes discussing and evaluating barriers to connection, establishing trust, and recognizing shared human experiences. Hoos Connected encourages creativity by asking students to step outside their comfort zone and engage honestly with others who are different from themselves. The program extends beyond the concept of “safe spaces” and creates brave spaces where students can learn to negotiate difference and more candidly share experiences of challenge and hope.

Dr. Nicole Ruzek and Dr. Joseph Allen received funding from the Trust in 2018 to help launch the program, which included bringing guest speakers to Grounds, aiding in marketing outreach efforts, and bringing on graduate assistants and student workers to help in the program launch and accompanying research. In its first semester, the program started as a cohort of 35 first-year students participating in 4 small groups. Impact was felt immediately and continues to grow each semester. The program’s success has also established the need to offer the program to transfer students and in the residential colleges.

With its proof of concept and early successes, Hoos Connected received additional funding from the Office of Student Affairs in early 2020 to expand staffing and capacity and a grant from the President &x Provost’s fund to further the program. “Both of these grants were leveraged based on the existing work funded by the Jefferson Trust; hence the Trust was instrumental in bringing in this higher level of funding and in dramatically expanding the scope of work being performed,” shared Ruzek. This funding will help scale the low-cost, high-impact program to the wider student body, reducing the issues students face surrounding mental health and social pressures.

Hoos Connected is just one of several projects funded by the Trust that have gone on to receive additional and sustaining grants from the President’s or Provost’s Offices. Ignite, USOAR and the Arts Mentors Program are other initiatives that have continued to grow and expand due to additional funding sources on Grounds, becoming an integral part of the UVA student experience and enhancing the University community.

The trustees eagerly await the next great idea.

Investing Beyond Tuition

The Burgoyne family

Even during a pandemic, the fall semester brings enthusiasm from new and returning students. The fall is also a time for parents, the unsung heroes of the collegiate process. They provide their fledgling college students with moral support, advice, and often to their chagrin, credit card access. Some parents elect to take this challenge a step further: they become trustees, doubling down on their investment in the student experience.

Twenty-three of the 71 trustees are parents to current students or have a child who is an alumnus.

For the parents of current students, being trustees gives them insight to the UVA community and makes them part of the University’s life. They learn more about their child’s professors and about what student groups are doing, and they help shape the student experience by voting on new grants.

The Clark family

Jon Clark (College ’81) and his wife, Terri Clark (Parent ’16, ’22) are the parents of two Wahoos. Their daughter, Devon, finished in 2016 and their son, Jack, is a third year.

Terri, who is not an alumna, has been just as involved in the Trust as Jon. She believes strongly in the unique value the Trust adds to the University community, stating, “I feel lucky to be able to participate in such a unique investment vehicle at The University of Virginia. The Jefferson Trust relies on each trustee to use their varied skills to vet, select, award and advise grantees on initiatives that will benefit the UVA community.”

The Trust also brings Jon and Terri closer to UVA, and to their son’s new home. “It’s especially fun to be a trustee while my son is attending the University. The Trust gives my husband and me, currently Arizona residents, an excuse to visit once a quarter. And while my son may feel we see him more than he had ever envisioned, he is always eager to meet the other trustees at events.”

Jim Taylor (Com ’88, Law ’94) has been a trustee since 2016, when his daughter Gracie became a first year. “I love the experience of connecting with current students and faculty and seeing the innovative grant requests. It’s a wonderful way to be part of the university community,” he says.

Most of the trustees who are parents of alumni are alumni themselves and being on the Trust is a chance to reconnect to the family’s school. However, for trustees such as Jim and Erin Burgoyne who did not attend UVA, being part of the Trust has provided an opportunity to give back to the school that helped shape their son, a 2016 graduate. Speaking of the experience, they believe he “benefited from the University of Virginia’s strong academic credentials and core principles of honor and integrity.”

In joining the Jefferson Trust, the Burgoynes say they found “a focused and hands-on opportunity to contribute to the student experience and help the University of Virginia continue developing citizen leaders.”

This sentiment of ‘developing citizen leaders’ truly befits the Trust’s namesake and is a testament to all the trustees — alumni, parents and friends — who continue Jefferson’s charge over 200 years later.