Grant Requests Reach High

UVA grant seekers, thank you! The Trust received 123 Letters of Inquiry (LOI) requesting over $14.9 million in our annual grant cycle. Sixty-eight of these requests, seeking over $7.8 million, have moved forward to the full proposal stage.

Submissions cover a wide variety of topics, including unique research opportunities, global experiences, community support efforts, and student well-being. Proposals were received from over 19 student groups, almost every school, and a variety of University-related organizations.

Our Proposals Committee has started reviewing the proposals in advance of the final round, which is an in-person pitch. The Trustees will look to grant $1.5 million this year across all funding cycles.

If you missed the annual cycle deadline, Flash Funding applications open December 15 for the January 2024 flash cycle. Flash Funding grants are capped at $10,000 and focus on short-term projects or immediate use opportunities, often for student organizations. Flash Funding runs in the spring semester, and grants are made on a month-to-month basis as long as funds are available. Visit our Grant Seekers page for more information.

As always, we are available to discuss your potential project and answer any funding questions. Contact our Director of Grants, Amy Bonner, for more information.

Rotunda Planetarium open house is back!

For one night only, the Rotunda Planetarium is open again to the public! Friday, November 24, 2023, 6:00 – 8:30 p.m.

In the summer of 1818, Thomas Jefferson envisioned a painted planetarium, spanning the Rotunda’s dome. “It is proposed to be painted sky-blue and spangled with gilt stars in their position and magnitude copied exactly,” he wrote. Fast-forward to 2019, and three UVA doctoral students worked to bring Jefferson’s vision to life. They received a Trust grant to purchase the equipment to “open the ceiling to the stars” and host an exhibition on the Rotunda Library’s early years.

Make plans to view the constellations and stars in the Rotunda Dome Room on the 24th. This event is free and open to the community. Special music from the Youth Orchestras of Central Virginia, and a visit from historical actor-interpreter, Bill Barker as Thomas Jefferson. We hope to see you there!

Where are they now?

In 2021 the Trust awarded $984,850 to fifteen annual grant projects. Some of these projects are finished and have hosted their events (Skyscraper Gothic exhibition, Biomaterial Building Exposition), while others have created sustaining programs (UVA Edge at SCPS, Women’s Maker Program). We’re excited to share updates from three others awarded in 2021:

Workforce Development in Data Science for Autistic Young Adults received $99,000 to help create a program to prepare a new generation of adults on the autism spectrum to be data scientists. As their initial grant winds down in 2023, the team is working on securing additional funding for the expansion and continuation of the program. “Out of the 6 students in the program, 5 had related internships/jobs by the end of the program. These students all were on the autism spectrum and had struggled to find relevant positions. This was the goal of the entire program, and we feel like this was the major impact to the community at large.” Shared project director, Kylen Baskerville.

UVA Brain Camp

UVA Brain Camp was awarded $49,000 to provide hands-on education in neuroscience to local youth. The program has since partnered with another grant project, Starr Hill Pathways at the Equity Center, to establish a neuroscience ‘pathway’ for Starr Scholars to explore. This partnership is helping to make Brain Camp more sustainable, reach more students, and add additional curriculum and activities to engage young scientific minds.

Affordability and Equity: Open Educational Resources received $77,400, allowing faculty the time and resources to create alternative solutions to expensive textbooks. Working with instructional designers and librarians, faculty can re-work existing, or create new, resources to be used in their courses. More than a dozen faculty projects are revolutionizing their teaching resources.

We are continually impressed with the innovation, impact, and growth our grant recipients have on the University and community at large.

Stepping Up Early


The Jefferson Trust has ten board members who finished their undergraduate work within the past 12 years – fitting the Alumni Association’s definition of a “young alum.”

These alumni joined the board because they were passionate about giving back early. The engagement with, and love for UVA that sustained them as students has inspired them to play an active role in shaping the institution’s future. Here are reflections from a few of them about their experience.

John Burns (Col ’15)

While a student at UVA, I was able to take advantage of several alumni-sponsored opportunities. When I was approached with a chance to serve on the Trust, it seemed like an immediately tangible way to pay those opportunities forward for other students. It’s proven to be exactly that, and more. As a younger Trustee, I’ve been able to connect with the full Trust board in a meaningful way – some Trustees were at my wedding, others have become business partners, and all are friends and connections that I’m grateful to maintain. Serving on the Trust has been a wonderful way to remain connected to the happenings of UVA, and I can’t recommend it highly enough as a manner in which to give back to the University.

John became a Trustee in 2016 and serves on the Development Committee. His wife, Faith, joined him on the Board in 2022 and serves on the Proposals Committee. The couple live and work in Washington, DC.

Harry Elkins (Engr ’17) & Allie Bing Elkins (Com ’17)

We truly believe that the University of Virginia is the best place on Earth to learn and grow. Since graduation, we have wanted a way to become meaningfully engaged on Grounds again, and the Jefferson Trust, with its mission of advancing the student experience, is the perfect fit.

Harry and Allie are recent additions to the Board.  They look forward to returning to Grounds from their home in Houston and have joined the Proposals Committee.

George Brown (Col ’19, Darden ’24)

The Trustees range of perspectives are tied to the same goal, advancing UVA.  For me, the Trust is the first step in a lifetime of service to the University.

George joined the Trust shortly after finishing his undergraduate work. Now, as a Darden student, he helps advance the organization as a leader on the Engagement Committee.

Jill Reid (Col ’11)

When I joined the Jefferson Trust, I was looking for a connection with the University. I have gotten that and so much more: a chance to meet some of the brightest minds on Grounds; the opportunity to fund innovative projects that enhance the student experience, inspire the faculty, and connect the school to the greater community; and to meet incredibly interesting and engaged alumni.

My time as a student at UVA gave me an amazing education, unparalleled friendships, and a spirited community. My time as an alum on the Trust has only helped to further those connections and allow me to be a part of advancing the University of which I am so proud to be an alum.

Jill is in the final year of her current board term.  She has provided valuable counsel and management on the Finance Committee.  She lives in New York where she works in finance for Loews Hotels.

Will Pike (Engr ’16)

The Jefferson Trust has been the perfect fit in my search to reconnect philanthropically with the University. Its focus on grants with direct student impact, reach across Grounds, and community of diverse and accomplished trustees have been both eye opening and inspiring to me. The Trust hits all the marks for active philanthropy and continued learning, and I look forward to staying involved for many years to come.

Will joined the Board in 2020 and serves on the Development Committee.  He lives in Dallas where he works for the Pike Corporation.

The Trust firmly believes that it is never too early (or too late) to make an impact.  We are proud of these young alumni for stepping up and playing an active role in shaping their beloved University.