Jefferson Trust awards $109,800 in flash grants

This spring, the Jefferson Trust has awarded $109,800 to 14 flash grants through three funding cycles, making this the most successful flash-funding process yet. A majority of grants are focused on the student experience, at all levels.

Unlike the Jefferson Trust’s annual grants, its flash grants are capped at $10,000 per project, and are awarded monthly beginning in January.

“It is clear that the University community is working hard to make a positive impact on students of all ages. Flash grants affect local toddlers, high school students, and, of course, UVA students at all levels. The trustees are pleased to be able to support so many high-quality proposals,” shares Grants Administrator, Amy Bonner.

The 2021 Flash grants:

Girls Who Code at UVA—Raspberry Pi and Arduino Workshops: $7,700

Girls Who Code (GWC) provides a gender-inclusive community for anyone interested in coding, at all levels of experience. The workshops provide hands-on experiences with Arduino and Raspberry Pi via remote learning.

2020: Extraordinary Moments: $7,131

“2020: Extraordinary Moments” will showcase a documentary featuring interviews from 100 UVA students and a magazine featuring writing and art submissions from the UVA community. The project will dive deeply into the year 2020 from the perspective of the UVA community, focusing on the positive moments that made the year special.

Hands-On History: the Letters of a Civil War Chaplain: $10,000

This student-led project is collaborating with both the Nau Center for Civil War History and the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities in engaging a team of undergraduate researchers in the digitization, transcription, and curation of private letters written by the Rev. John W. Alvord, a Civil War Army Chaplain and Freedmen’s Bureau Superintendent of Schools and Finance.

Virginia Medical Review: $1,400

The Virginia Medical Review will provide an online platform for the publication of scientific and medical articles written by student contributors, with a goal of creating professional and academic articles that remain accessible to all with an engaging, plain-language voice.

Starting Off on the Right Foot: Outfitting the 10th & Page Montessori Lab School: $10,000

The Toddler’s House of 10th & Page is a joint initiative of the psychology department’s Montessori Science Program (MSP), the UVA Equity Center, and community partners Pilgrim Baptist Church and City of Promise. The Toddler’s House will offer high-quality, evidence-based childcare in the Montessori tradition for low-income children in the neighborhood, fulfilling an urgent need in the community. It will also provide a demonstration and research site for UVA faculty and students investigating the principles and characteristics of evidence-based early-childhood learning and its potential for multi-generational, transformative impact within under-resourced communities.

i+DEAL: Interactive + Digital Electronic Arts Lab: $1,927.96

Technological skills are vital in a world where production, consumption, and interaction are increasingly shifting toward the digital realm. This initiative focuses on introducing high school students to STEM concepts through a remote, hands-on creative experience involving arts and crafts, circuits, and musical experimentation.

COVID-19 Pandemic Education and Support: Children’s Book Collection: $8,739

This project builds and catalogs a children’s book collection of 119 titles that can be used in the classroom, in counseling settings, and at home, to address issues of loss, trauma, and anxiety due to the pandemic. In addition to the core collection, this project will develop community partnerships with local school districts to host drive-thru book fairs open and free to all in targeted communities with low vaccination rates.

Teaching Writing and Anti-Racism in the ENWR 1510 Classroom Project: $6,200

A group of faculty and graduate students from UVA’s Writing and Rhetoric Program will produce a syllabus for an ENWR 1510 course that focuses on Thomas Jefferson, UVA, Charlottesville, and their relationships to colonization, slavery, and white supremacy. The immediate goal is to encourage and support instructors who wish to teach such a course, with a broader goal of widespread adoption of a course that would build student awareness of racial inequity.

The College Scoop Textbook Loaner Library: $10,000

This library will be operated by The College Scoop’s executive leadership and will serve as an alternative to purchasing expensive textbooks every semester.

Extending Jefferson’s Vision on Leadership: Learning How To Discuss Race and Racism Through Humility: $9,189

With the COVID-19 pandemic, tragic events of August 11-12, 2017, and police violence against Black Americans as the backdrop, the current moment presents a cultural shift that moves discussions of race and racial inequalities to front and center. Although the public’s appetite for these discussions is fervent, very few people know how to broach these conversations in an effective manner, particularly across racial boundaries. This project seeks to teach UVA students strategies to reframe anxiety surrounding these conversations as an opportunity to learn. As a result, we hope this instruction will help create humble, thoughtful, and courageous leaders who will be both motivated and better equipped to directly address issues of race and racial inequity.

The Architecture of The Green Book: a Digital Database: $10,000

The Negro Motorist’s Green Book, made famous by the 2018 movie, was an essential print resource for African American families who wished to travel by car from 1936 to 1966. With listings of safe harbors in unfamiliar towns and organized first by state and then locality, The Green Book offers an extraordinary window into the landscapes of racism and resistance across mid-century America. By 2026, this project seeks to recruit scholars from all 50 states—many of them graduates of our own Department of Architectural History—to document all of the surviving buildings and sites across America, making them available to the public on a single, searchable online platform.

Book Arts Fellowship: $9,600

A new Book Arts Fellowship, within the Virginia Center for the Book program, expands on the role of an intern in duration and scope, with hands-on learning experiences of printing and papermaking, a hallmark of book arts. This will create a unique, year-long academic leadership experience for two undergraduate UVA students interested in arts administration, public relations, project management, and community engagement.

Ultracold Multipurpose Molecular Manipulation and Imaging Laboratory for Undergraduate Research: $8,310

Construction of an undergraduate-led multipurpose laboratory for experimental molecular science will allow collaborative interdisciplinary research, spanning several subfields of physics and chemistry. Over the next five years, undergraduates working with the setup will gain valuable experience with cryostats and advanced optical technologies including lasers for imaging and ablation.

Time Tables: Leveraging Our Material Past Toward Shared Futures: $9,605

A team of students, with faculty support and oversight, will make meaningful use of a series of logs from a 125-year-old Poplar tree that was taken down near the Alderman Library. A single large table from a slab of this wood will be crafted and installed in the outdoor classroom of Campbell Hall in August, while the remainder of the heritage wood will be milled and preserved for use in future pieces.

Starting Off on the Right Foot: Outfitting the 10th & Page Montessori Lab School

Montessori classroom

Research indicates that a child’s engagement with a specially prepared educational environment and the materials within it can increase the child’s focus, concentration, executive function, sense of positivity and wellbeing about school. Montessori classrooms are among the best at creating this nurturing environment.

Montessori classrooms are distinctive for their aesthetic beauty, their use of furniture and materials made from natural materials (such as wood and glass), and the abundance of artifacts of nature and beauty, like houseplants and art or cultural objects. This opportunity, however, often comes with higher set-up costs than traditional pre-schools.

The Toddler’s House of 10th & Page Montessori Lab School received a $10,000 Jefferson Trust flash grant in January 2021 to offer high-quality, evidence-based childcare in the Montessori format for low-income neighborhood children. Trust funding is helping in the purchase and setup of learning materials and supplies. Director of Operations of the Montessori Science Program, Corey Borgman shares “We have already put Jefferson Trust money to work! We have started a little pilot program and families that have visited the classroom have been blown away by the beauty of the environment and the quality of the materials, all of which were purchased with JT investment.”

The project is a joint initiative of the UVA Psychology department’s Montessori Science Program (MSP), the UVA Equity Center, and community partners Pilgrim Baptist Church and City of Promise. The school is prioritizing children between the ages of 16 months and 3 years who reside within a tri-neighborhood service footprint (Westhaven, 10th & Page and Starr Hill) and whose families have financial need.

“Our driving purpose is to counteract the multi-generational effects of systemic racism and chronic underinvestment in low-income and minoritized communities. Our primary strategy in that work is to leverage the evidence-based power of high-quality Montessori early-childhood education,” Corey says.

Scheduled to open in September, the lab school expands UVA into the community, extending UVA resources and making research and teaching an experiential process. As a research and demonstration site for UVA students and faculty, the school has the potential to adapt to and showcase how the Montessori model can work within under-resourced and minoritized communities.

Grant Cycle Process Change: Important news for grant-seekers

We fund great ideas from students, faculty, and staff

The Jefferson Trust is implementing a two-step application process for the annual grant cycle, beginning with the 2021-22 cycle, available now. Applicants must now complete a short Letter of Inquiry (LOI), which will be reviewed to determine if their proposal moves forward to the full application. Letters of Inquiry will be reviewed on a rolling basis, with notifications made within two weeks of LOI submission.

Timeline of New Process:

  1. April 15, 2021:  LOI forms are available in the grant portal.
  2. October 1, 2021:  Last day to submit a LOI. LOIs submitted after 10/1 will NOT be eligible to apply.
  3. October 25, 2021:  Full applications due for approved LOIs
  4. January 28, 2022:  Some applicants will be asked to meet with the board to provide more information.
  5. Early February 2022:  Funding status notifications sent to applicants.

The spring Flash Funding cycles will not be impacted by this change and will be conducted with the existing one-step application process. We encourage you to plan ahead and to visit our page with information for grant-seekers or contact Amy, our Grants Administrator, with questions.

Mr. Solar — Lars Norell

Lars Norell

When we think of solar power, we think of panels tilted toward the sun across dozens of uninhabited desert acres in utility scale solar plants, or your eco-friendly neighbor’s new residential ‘green’ roof solar panels. Eleven years ago, Lars Norell (Law ’98) observed an emerging market in Europe that seemed to target something in the middle: efficient power generation at scale on top of large commercial or municipal buildings combined with local use of the electricity produced. Today, his company Altus Power funds and operates solar arrays on the rooftops of large commercial and industrial buildings — everything from high schools to factories to your local department store.

“That department store purchases the electricity from Altus at a discount to what they pay their traditional utility company, and sometimes during peak hours, can even add electricity to the grid,” says Lars.

Of course, installation can be expensive, and creating the organizational capital to drive growth can be a challenge. To meet the demand and help grow business, Lars has formed partnerships with groups such as Blackstone, providing both customers and investors exceptional value.

Lars says, “We have worked hard together with Blackstone to create the first ever investment grade rated and scalable credit facility for large rooftop solar arrays.” This has led to increased customer savings and higher levels of growth for our portfolio.

Since its founding in 2009, Altus has developed or acquired more than 200 distributed generation solar facilities from Vermont to Hawaii totaling more than 265 megawatts. But what does the solar industry’s future look like?

“It’s bright,” says Lars. “Two percent of the nation’s energy produced last year came from solar. Each state’s renewable energy standards are increasing with goals of 30% or more in the next few decades.”

“The required change and the effort required to close that gap is awe-inspiring.”

Lars believes that to meet the metrics of each state, every flat commercial roof that can hold a solar system, should. He also believes UVA can play a big role in the renewable energy space and its link with entrepreneurship. “Altus was started as a value-creating endeavor, both for stakeholders and investors.  If you can start entities that create and deliver value in this space, it’s both fun and inspiring.”

“We should be able to take entrepreneurial steps within the Trust to build a renewable energy ecosystem at UVA with a focus on delivering value.”

It’s an ambitious, visionary goal, but we’ve seen time after time that when a challenge is made to the University community, we find a way to rise to it.