Jefferson Trust Awards Largest Dollar Amount in a Single Year

The Board of Trustees of the Jefferson Trust is excited to announce our 2020-21 annual grant awards, totaling $984,854 to fifteen programs that will enhance the University of Virginia community, as well as a significant portion of the larger community. This is the largest dollar amount the Trust has granted in a single year.

This year, the Jefferson Trust received 57 grant proposals requesting a combined $4,063,323.50 by the October 1, 2020 deadline. Proposals came from 8 schools, 16 student organizations, and various other University areas, centers, and institutes. Community-facing grants include the UVA Brain Camp for local middle school students; DevHub@Wise, a training program for UVA Wise students; a leadership pipeline program connecting high school students to the Batten School; and a Community Engaged Teaching program led by the Vice Provost for Academic Outreach and the Center for Teaching Excellence.

The 2020-21 Grants:

UVA Brain Camp – A Neuroscience Summer Program for Kids: $49,326

UVA Brain Camp will inspire young scientific minds, provide in-depth and hands-on education in Neuroscience, and enrich young students’ local scientific network through one-on-one mentorships. This program will be free and accessible to middle school students who are nominated by their teachers and who identify as members of underrepresented communities or who are financially disadvantaged.

Workforce Development in Data Science for Autistic Young Adults: $99,200

A multidisciplinary team of faculty from UVA’s School of Data Science Brain Institute (within the School of Medicine) and STAR Initiative (in the School of Education) is creating a workforce-development program that will prepare a new generation of adults on the autism spectrum to be data scientists. The program will strengthen systems, transform lives, improve science, and change misperceptions about people whi have different disabilities.

DevHub@Wise: $49,720

DevHub@Wise will train and educate students of UVA at Wiseto be technologically literate, and engage with the surrounding Appalachian community to take on real-world technology projects. DevHub@Wise builds on the highly successful DevHub model at UVA.

“Knowing Better To Do Better” Preparing and Sustaining Equitable and Anti-Racist Educators: $49,478

As the population of students in Pre-K – 12th grade  becomes more diverse, it is vital to prepare teachers to teach through an anti-racist lens and to build equitable classrooms. This one-year pilot program will provide professional development for preservice teachers and their mentors and coaches.

Democracy at UVA Internship: $75,000

The UVA Democracy Internship will create a collaborative internship program across units at UVA that focuses on the study of democracy and governance. The program will promote greater inclusivity in the realm of public service by offering mentorship and research experiences to people in underserved populations.

Pediatric Mental Health in the COVID-19 Era: Helping Patients via Group Telepsychology: $46,649

Approximately 1 in 5 children and teens in the U.S. have been diagnosed with a mental illness, and many go without evidence-based psychotherapy services. This unmet need has been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 health crisis. UVA Children’s [Hospital] will launch a telehealth program for group therapy for children, adolescents and their caregivers.

Climate Restoration Initiative: $110,000

The Environmental Resilience Institute will launch an initiative to develop strategies for reversing climate change. The Climate Restoration Initiative will bring together an interdisciplinary team of UVA scholars and students to understand how to restore the climate by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, with an initial focus on Virginia. This initiative will be the first of its kind to combine the disciplinary and policy perspectives needed to understand the feasible scope of negative emissions strategies, and as such, will distinguish UVA on the global stage.

Distinguished Major Project Musical Through Virginia Players: $2,500

The Virginia Players Lab Series will produce an original full-length musical in the fall of 2021. Tentatively titled “Peace by Piece,” the show focuses on mental health within the queer community and interracial relationships. The main intention is to show those with family members and/or friends in the LGBTQ+ community what a queer person might be going through.

Leadership Skills for a Diverse and Divided World: Developing Leaders who Facilitate Change: $64,900

This grant will fund an ambitious eight-day leadership and policy pipeline program for 40 rising high school juniors will take place in summer 2021. Designed and taught by Batten School faculty and facilitated by students, the program advances the dual goals of training and empowering current UVA students while also building a pipeline for a future generation.

Building a Sustained Commitment to Community-Engaged Teaching: $130,000

The Office for Academic Outreachand the Center for Teaching Excellencewill create the infrastructure to support the expansion of community-engaged courses for undergraduates within and beyond the College. This initiative will launch a website with UVA-tailored resources to support new community-engaged courses, a two-day faculty institute and monthly learning community, one-on-one pedagogical assistance for faculty in developing courses, and course-development grants.

Biomaterial Building Exposition: $72,202

Mockup design for the Biomaterial Building Exposition
Mockup design for the Biomaterial Building Exposition

Hosted by the School of Architecture and engaging students and scholars from across the University and beyond, this year-long effort will culminate in an exhibition of built exterior temporary pavilions which demonstrate novel approaches to construction using rapidly renewable biomaterials. Pavilions will take shape literally and metaphorically at the intersections of disciplinary expertise, created by multi-disciplinary student-led teams working directly with external expert mentors and displayed across Grounds.

Affordability and Equity: Open Educational Resources: $77,400

The use of open educational resources to provide affordable and equitable access to an excellent education has been hampered by two factors: insufficient content appropriate for UVA courses and lack of support for faculty authors. The proposed program will address both issues by offering grants to support faculty in the creation of new resources or the adaptation of existing open educational resources, in collaboration with instructional designers, librarians and student interns.

Skyscraper Gothic: $20,000

Student design concept for the exhibition Skyscraper Gothic
Student design concept for the exhibition Skyscraper Gothic

This exhibition will explore how skyscrapers (such as the Woolworth, Radiator, and Empire State buildings), now rejected as examples of architectural modernity, were originally embraced as emblems of modern American life. The project is a significant collaboration between The Fralin and the Architectural History department, directly enabling the realization of student research and design work undertaken in two classes in the 2019-2020 academic year.

UVA Edge: $100,000

UVA Edge is a one-year undergraduate experience for working adults that is a new offering in higher education. It will launch a pilot cohort with UVA staff and community members.

The Robertson Media Center Women’s Maker Program: $44,980

The goal of the Robertson Media Center-based Women’s Maker Program is to help promote greater confidence in female undergraduate students, improve their sense of belonging inSTEM fields, and better prepare them for careers in the STEM workforce.

Brent Percival named Jefferson Trust Executive Director

Brent Percival

The Trustees of the Jefferson Trust are excited to announce that Brent Percival has accepted the position as Executive Director of the Jefferson Trust. He assumed the role on January 1, 2021, following the retirement of Wayne Cozart.

Brent came to the Trust a little over two years ago from the UVA Health System Development Office to serve as Director of Development. In that time, he has recruited or renewed 18 trustees and raised over $3.5 million. He has also helped navigate the Trust’s rebranding and promotions efforts, as well as managed the budgeting and finance operation over the past year. Before joining UVA, Brent worked in development for Auburn University and in advertising with Media General. He brings a background in gift planning and a passion for the Trust!

“I’m thrilled to be the Trust’s executive director. Wayne built an incredible organization with a history of impactful grants, dedicated Trustees and an excellent staff. I’m excited to pick up the torch and lead the organization forward,” Brent shares.

Flash Funding is Available!

We fund great ideas from students, faculty, and staff

The January Flash Funding cycle has closed, and we received 16 proposals requesting a total of $155,540 in funding!

If you missed January, our February application cycle is open! Flash Funds are focused on shorter-term or immediate use projects, with awards capped at $10,000 per project. All proposals submitted in February will have a decision by March 15. Please visit our Apply Page to learn more and view an Information Session video, or contact our Grants Administrator, Amy at, to discuss your project.

Aboriginal Art on Grounds

UVA graduate student Cassie Davies received a flash grant from the Trust in February 2020 to create a short film documenting Aboriginal art on Grounds. The film explores two exhibitions of Aboriginal art, “The Inside World: Contemporary Aboriginal Australian Memorial Poles” at The Fralin Museum of Art and “Munguyhmunguyh: Forever” in the University of Virginia Rotunda. Viewers learn how UVA students were impacted by these exhibitions and follow artists Gabriel Maralngurra and Joe Guymala of Injalak Arts as they visited UVA to share their art and culture.

“It was amazing to get a behind-the-scenes look at the Kluge-Ruhe’s and the Fralin’s preparations for these two exhibitions,” shares Cassie. “I felt especially lucky to have the opportunity to interview Gabriel Maralngurra and Joe Guymala, and to document some of their time here in Charlottesville — it was so nice to think of them watching my documentary back home in Australia. I’m also glad that this video will allow people to see the exhibitions despite the pandemic, because so much hard work and creativity went into them. Many thanks to the Jefferson Trust for making this project possible!”

Watch the video here and visit to learn more about the only museum in the US dedicated to Indigenous Australian art.

The Magic of New Media

Vintage televisions

The media business has changed dramatically in the past few years. New brands are gaining customers, there have been countless mergers and acquisitions, and now many traditional media companies have a “+” at the end of their name, delivering even more content on-demand. It’s a substantial change in the way we consume media, how we access content, and how our thoughts and habits are shaped.

In this new world, there is tremendous opportunity for UVA students and alumni to impact the future. Many Trustees are at the forefront of this change. What does this look like from their perspective, what does the future hold, what does it mean for students entering the industry, and how can the Trust’s entrepreneurial spirit play a role?

“I was the only lawyer [at Netflix] in 2002. Now we’re over 700 and growing,” says David Hyman (Col ’88, Law ’93) who serves as the streaming giant’s General Counsel. “The work has changed in innumerable ways. When I started we were a domestic-only distributor of physical DVDs; now we’re a global media company, producing content across all verticals of TV and film.”

“Netflix was the beginning, and in the last two years, we’ve seen an explosion of services looking to compete,” says Paul Pastor (Col ’97).  Paul is the Chief Business Officer and Co-Founder at Firstlight Media and Co-Founder and Chief Business Officer of the brand-new streaming service, Struum. He has held positions at the Discovery Channel, Disney, Technicolor and Universal Music Group to name a few.

“Streaming is transforming the way people consume content; however, it presents new challenges for consumers: most importantly, how should they navigate an a-la-carte content world. With now hundreds of services available in the U.S. alone, consumers struggle to figure out what to watch and where to watch it, and then need to balance this against what they can afford and the hassle factor of managing multiple subscriptions.” Paul is quick to note that data is playing an increasing role in almost every facet of the industry: data is leveraged to market in order to manage the consumer life cycle and to provide watch recommendations to consumers, and that’s just scratching the surface. Paul says, “I’m pleased to see UVA’s investment in data science. There are tremendous opportunities for UVA graduates to shape the consumer experience and the industry as a whole.”

Brian Stengel (Col ’89) is the founder and CEO of Trebuchet Partners, a merchant bank that advises and invests in disruptive growth companies and also led the fundraising efforts for Struum; he appreciates the recent industry evolution.

“Historically, media companies wielded control regarding what we watched and when we watched it.  It’s amusing to think we once tuned in weekly for specific shows and that the networks would let us know when. Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) is the new normal and content is now available On Demand, how, when and where we want to watch it. It’s a seismic shift of power: the consumer now has choice, flexibility and control where once the broadcaster or programmer ruled.”

This shift has implications for many other things, including philanthropy, and Brian sees similarities with the Trust’s unique donor-led model. “Private Venture Capital will support innovative ideas in the same way the Jefferson Trust supports great unfunded project. Many institutions align donors with certain priorities,” he says. “The Trust is an unrestricted endowment, and the donors use this same choice, flexibility and control to determine how much to give and how the funds are allocated.”

Whether advancing UVA through philanthropy or finding new ways to watch the ’Hoos, change is evident.

Anthony DiClemente (Com ’98) serves as the Executive Vice President of Investor Relations with ViacomCBS, and he rang the opening bell at the Nasdaq when Viacom and CBS recombined in December 2019. Having spent most of his career as an internet and media equity research analyst, Anthony has held positions at Evercore, Nomura and Barclays.

“As one of the industry’s largest creators of film and TV content, we fundamentally believe that producing compelling content is of paramount importance in today’s fragmented media landscape,” Anthony says. “Streaming allows content creators the opportunity to access an enormous and growing global market by way of distribution on multiple platforms, not just linear TV. More importantly, streaming technology has enabled content companies to increasingly forge a direct relationship with their fans and subscribers by way of their owned streaming platforms.”

Anthony is excited for the launch of ViacomCBS streaming service Paramount+ in March, and he hopes to find himself streaming the Hoos on the service for March Madness on CBS.

A newcomer to the business who has seen it shape as he’s learning is George Brown (Col ’19).  George serves as Senior Partnership Coordinator at Teton Gravity Research, which produces action sports films and content, including everything from extreme skiing expeditions to death-defying mountain biking adventures. The company also serves as a platform for outdoor enthusiasts to share and curate content.

“For the media business, this pandemic has taught us that content is king,” he says.

“The media companies that are able to consistently create engaging content, while providing their viewers with easy and accessible options for streaming that content, will succeed in this COVID world and beyond.”