Grants in the News

Catch up on Trust grants recently featured in the news:

The Black Economic Empowerment Society (BEES) received a Trust flash grant in 2023. They recently hosted a pop-up shop to highlight student-run and local black businesses. Learn more about the event and their organization in this Cavalier Daily article.

Starr Hill Pathways students participate in the Nursing pathway. Photo credit: Dan Addison

In 2022 the Equity Center received a $150,000 Trust grant to support the Starr Hill Pathways Program. Read about their continued growth and impact in the community in this University Advancement feature.

A team of UVA School of Education Professors is working to provide open access to high-quality, peer-reviewed educational resources, while developing a CAD library. Check out more about this 2023 grant project and their ongoing work in UVA Today.

In 2023 the Co-Circular Plastics Initiative received a Trust grant. They recently held a symposium to discuss the use and reuse of plastics and sustainability. Read this UVA Today feature to learn more about our relationship with plastics.

Check out {in}Visible Magazine’s most recent issue. A 2023 flash grant recipient, {in}Visible is dedicated to exploring and sharing unique experiences through writing and art for the Asian Pacific Islander South Asian American (APISAA) community on Grounds.

Follow the Trust on Instagram and Facebook to stay up-to-date on grant news.

Funding University Priorities — Entrepreneurship

Students participate in the BEES Black Student Business Expo.

This article is the first in a series on Trust grants that directly support University priorities.

Each Trust grant funds a new idea. Some of these ideas are in areas of particular importance to the University President or Provost. ‘University priorities’ are not permanent but rather time-bound areas of focus where administrators put additional resources toward advancing UVA. Trust support can play a unique role in jumpstarting a project or program toward having an immediate impact.

Entrepreneurship is a current University priority and one that the Trust has supported often.

Entrepreneurship at UVA has many homes. There are multiple centers, incubators, programs, competitions, and courses across different schools and units. Each avenue has a different audience.

In October 2023, the University announced its new Entrepreneurship Initiative, designed to bring cohesion to the various efforts, support them, and enhance them.

As is often the case, the Trust was out in front. In June 2022, Jefferson Trust board member, Lars Norell, Law ’98 and his family gave $100,000 to the Trust to support entrepreneurial programming.  These funds were allocated outside the normal grant cycles to immediately support projects such as:

  • the Virginia Venture Fund’s National Undergraduate Venture Cup, which brought Reddit founder, Alexis Ohanian, Com. ‘05 to Grounds to speak to students;
  • the pan-University E-Cup program;
  • and the creation of a mobile app for entrepreneurs across Grounds to connect and share ideas, developed by the Batten Institute.

In the past two years alone, through our Annual and Flash Funding cycles, the Trust has funded several projects that directly impact the entrepreneurship effort, such as:

  • Changemaker Bootcamp, a week-long, experiential program in social entrepreneurship for undergraduates;
  • Entrepreneurship for All, a UVA faculty led high school program for youth from historically marginalized communities to create their own ventures and social enterprises;
  • Darden Emerging Markets Conference, designed to bring thought leaders, professionals, academicians, and students together to discuss emerging markets in a post-COVID world;
  • Black Economic Empowerment Society, designed to increase financial literacy, emphasize the importance of asset ownership, and empower Black UVA students to start businesses;
  • and, the Virginia Undergraduate Investment Conference (VUIC), which provided hands-on experience in equity analysis and investment for students.

Beyond this direct support, the Trust is committed to being part of the entrepreneurial ecosystem across Grounds, funding ideas and fostering innovation that will make UVA an event better place.

Break the Mold: Annual Cycle is Open

New. Radical. Novel. Fun. These are some of the adjectives that describe the ideas we fund. Our 2024–25 Annual Cycle is open, and we are looking for ideas that will break the mold and chart an exciting path forward. If you have an idea that will advance UVA or enrich the student experience, we’d love to hear it.

Review the grant seekers section of our webpage and if you think your project or program might be a good fit, contact Amy, our Director of Grants at

Flash Grants Focus on Student Experiences

The Jefferson Trust has awarded $119,880 across fourteen flash funding grants since January.

“The volume of requests we received this year was overwhelming. It is a clear indication that UVA is an active, forward-looking university with a healthy student body ready to make an impact,” shared Brent Percival, Executive Director of the Jefferson Trust. “The Trustees were thrilled to see so many Flash Funding requests from students; their engagement in programs and projects that enrich the student experience is a hallmark of the Trust.”

Student experiences are the standout theme this spring. Whether student research experiences, like Morven Soundscape and From the Ground Up, to learning opportunities with artificial intelligence (AI), through McIntire’s Escape Room Tournament and the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence in Research and Training, people at UVA are seeking out new ways to engage and enhance the student experience.

Different than the Jefferson Trust’s Annual Cycle grants, Flash Funding grants are capped at $10,000 per project and are awarded monthly beginning in January.

The 2024 Flash Grants:

AFROTC VR Simulator: $10,000

Funding will bring virtual reality simulator training on the T-6 Texan II aircraft to Air Force ROTC students at UVA, and a potential partnership with the UVA Aeronautical Engineering club.

Ethics of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Research and Teaching: $8,040

A team of professors is launching a series of workshops, open to the University and local communities, designed to illustrate the benefits and weaknesses of AI.

From the Ground Up: $9,700

Through hands-on learning labs and field research, UVA students will develop an educational module centered on soil biological health of Native tallgrass prairies to help build agricultural and environmental education among local Indigenous youth in Sisseton, South Dakota.

Morven Soundscape: $10,000

Students will create an expansive soundscape of the land at Morven Farms, enhancing listeners’ understanding of the place, and assisting researchers in a better understanding of its history, archaeology, and environment.

McIntire School of Commerce Escape Room Tournament: $8,000

A student-created game, the Escape Room Competition simulates an Artificial Intelligence (AI) business firm, where students will use critical thinking skills and hands-on learning to solve challenges in entrepreneurship, innovation, and modern workforce.

The Stan Winston and Steve Warner Festival of the Moving Creature: $10,000

In preparation for the Stan Winston and Steve Warner Festival of the Moving Creature, students in Art of the Moving Creature class work on their festival creatures.

The class, and culminating festival, will showcase the multidisciplinary lessons and passions of Arts Grounds in a public performance of larger-than-life moving creatures designed and powered by students in the Art of the Moving Creatures Spring 2024 seminar.

CALM Wellness Retreat: $1,400

The CALM Wellness Retreat for School of Medicine students provides the medical student community a dedicated space to find relief from the stressors of medicine and build sustainable mindfulness practices that they can carry with them throughout their medical school journey and future medical career.

Smiles & Spatulas: $3,400

A cooking program that will empower adults with Down Syndrome by teaching kitchen safety, cooking basics, and general nutrition. This pilot program offers volunteer opportunities for students while giving back to the Charlottesville community.

Teaching and Learning Enhancement Hub: $9,590

An initiative in the Department of Psychology with results that will be applied broadly, the Hub is evaluating several effective learning strategies to improve learning experiences for students.

JunkLabz – Printers4Kidz: $10,000

Funding helps to purchase a new plastic sheet press, enabling Junk Labz to improve the diversion and processing of plastic waste more efficiently, turning higher volumes of recycled plastic into durable, long-lasting products.

Entrepreneurship for All: $10,000

In partnership with local high schools, this program is designed to educate and empower youth from historically marginalized communities to create their own ventures and social enterprises.

Sara Curruchich. Being an Indigenous Woman in Today’s Guatemala: $10,000

The internationally recognized Mayan Kaqchikel singer and songwriter visited Grounds as a Ruffin Distinguished Artist-in-Residence. Classes, workshops, and a free public concert were held, and materials from the visit will be archived in the UVA Library for future students to learn about Curruchich, Kaqchikel art, and activism.

Public Facing Writing: Editor Workshop Series: $10,000

Graduate students in the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences are organizing the Public Facing Writing workshop series, aimed to support public humanities work and grow the networks between humanities scholars and public facing publications at UVA.

SWVA Can Code Regional Student Showcase: $9,750

In partnership with UVA Wise, local schools, and community organizations, middle- and high- school students will learn coding, web app development, problem-solving, prototyping, and entrepreneurial and communication skills at summer camps, then showcase their work on Wise’s campus.

February Flash Funding Continues!

We received 50 proposals requesting $353,000 in funding in the January Flash Funding cycle. Thank you, UVA for your innovative ideas and commitment to further enhance the University!

If you missed January, our February Flash funding proposal form is open. Flash grants are capped at $10,000 and focus on short-term projects or immediate use opportunities, often for student organizations. Proposals must be submitted no later than February 29, with decisions announced on March 15.

For additional information, please visit our Grant Seekers page or contact Amy Bonner at to discuss your idea and potential funding.

An Email Makes a Difference

Meghan Puglia, Assistant Professor of Neurology, received a Trust grant for the Transformative Autism Biomarker Research Initiative, studying babies in the NICU to detect early indicators of autism. A few years later, Zack Landsman, Systems Engineering PhD student, received a Trust grant for his work to recycle plastic waste and electronic equipment, creating them into new materials.

Colorful shredded plastic from recycled pipette tips.

Zack and Meghan were previous collaborators on another project, so when UVA Today featured Zack’s work to add recycling capabilities to UVA and Charlottesville, Meghan contacted him with a plastic waste “gold mine”.

“Meghan has been one of my favorite collaborators as she shows great passion for her work. The plastic recycling collaboration began after one email from Meghan and has jumpstarted all of our work! This story is a perfect example of waste stream identification helping to create an entire process. Our sights are currently set on blue wrap, a polypropylene hospital staple that, accounts for an estimated 19% of all operating room waste by weight,” shares Zack.

Many labs produce a large amount of discarded pipette tips that aren’t often recycled and end up in a landfill.  “They are a perfect starter item, all the same plastic, well labeled, require no cleaning (sticker removal on some), and come in cool colors” shares Zack.

Since Zack’s team began collection, they have worked to refine their recycling process. They sort by color, type, and size, then shred the plastics and re-sort based on manufacturing needs.

Zack has formed a partnership with the School of Architecture to supply them with recycled plastics and is working with UVA Sustainability and Green Labs to increase contributions from labs across Grounds.

For more information or to get involved with either project, visit or

Updates in a Flash

In 2023, the Trust awarded $96,350 to fourteen flash grant projects, across three funding cycles. Based on the short timelines of flash projects, many are complete, but a few are in the midst of their work. We’re excited to share updates from three:

Behavioral Sciences Across Grounds received $9,240 to help establish a gathering of behavioral scientists across the University, providing an opportunity for improved collaborations, better training, engaging in strategic planning, and a greater sense of community. The first stage of the project was so well received that the team divided the conference into two stages. The first was held in 2023, and the second will take place in early 2024. “Feedback has been extremely positive, and we feel like this event has really brought together this community and built strong bonds. We are in a strong position to consider ways to build bridges to bring in external funding,” shared project lead, Gabrielle Adams.

Talking Trees was awarded $1,546 to purchase a print press, creating a folio of wood prints to assemble a visual catalogue of the different species of trees from across Grounds. An article published in LUNCH, the Architecture school’s student-run publication, details some of the tree cookie prints and their procurement, as well as the project collaboration with UVA Sawmilling. A small edition of prints have been shared with Sawmilling for larger distribution.

Tree cookie print example from Talking Trees grant.

{in}Visible Magazine received $3,170 to help launch the first literary publication at UVA dedicated to the Asian Pacific Islander South Asian American (APISAA) community on Grounds, creating a space for exploring and sharing unique experiences through writing and art. Since launching they have published four issues and are working on the next to release in spring 2024.

“We’ve been surprised by the amount of interest in joining our staff; we’re managing more writers and artists than we ever have before, and more than we’ve expected,” shared Wendy Gao, Magazine Editor-in-Chief. “We’ve also applied for CIO status!”

We are excited to see what great ideas and projects will arise in the 2024 flash grants process!

Jefferson Trust Grants Highlight Student Experiences

The Jefferson Trust Board of Trustees has awarded $1.4 million to 17 new projects and programs.

“Given the volume of requests we received this year, I couldn’t be more pleased with the scope of projects and programs the Trustees ultimately funded,” says Brent Percival, Executive Director of the Jefferson Trust. “The Trust made fourteen Annual Cycle grants each of the past two years. This year, we have 17, which speaks to the Trustees desire to maximize the limited funding available to impact as many parts of the University community as possible”.

“This Annual Cycle started with 123 letters of inquiry and resulted in 17 grants,” shares Amy Bonner, Director of Grants. “While I wish we could fund them all, this is a great step toward our vision of seeing every great idea at UVA come to fruition”.

This year’s proposals and subsequent grants were among the most diverse we have ever seen. From community impact measures to unique student projects, to translational research, these ventures illustrate the vibrancy that exists across the University.

The 2023-24 Grants:

UVA Student Engagement with Local Black Histories: River View Farm: $98,800

Support enhances undergraduate course AAS 4501 and creates a summer internship program with the Department of African American and African Studies and the Ivy Creek Foundation. Students will be trained in public history methods, and archival and genealogical research at River View Farms, exposing them to archive-based research, oral history, and 3D modeling.

The World at Your Doorstep, Democracy’s Future in Your Hands: $100,000

New courses will be created to allow students to establish research partnerships with faculty and international advocates and participate in international conferences focused on the future of democracy and democratic rights.  The program will bring leaders in the field to Grounds and provide students hands-on global experience.

Jefferson Society Bicentennial Storytelling Project: $33,850

Interviews from alumni will be recorded and compiled into a multimedia exhibit, along with the society’s physical archives, to celebrate the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society’s bicentennial in 2025.

Nursing Narratives: $24,000

Funding helps to add a recurring editorial section to both the print and digital versions of “Virginia Nursing Legacy,” UVA School of Nursing’s quarterly magazine. Content will focus on capturing the voices, experiences, and opinions of UVA nurses (including students, faculty, and alumni), giving them a platform to share, and giving readers a closer look at the issues and topics that impact nurses.

SPRINT Program: Bridging the Gap to Enhanced Rehabilitation and Community Engagement: $120,000

The Sports Performance Rehabilitation Integrating Neuromuscular Training (SPRINT) program aims to reduce re-injury rates and increase the number of patients successfully returning to sports post-surgery, from knee injuries. SPRINT will serve as a learning platform for students aspiring in sports medicine, physical therapy, or sports performance domains.

D-Mine: $24,972

With the purchase of a thermal camera, a drone with increased thermal sensitivity, and other related equipment, the D-Mine project aims to develop new de-mining software that can save lives, resources, and time for anti-explosive teams, ultimately de-mining territories more quickly and safely.

UVA Cyber Range: $71,548.79

Designed to enhance cybersecurity education, support research, and promote cybersecurity endeavors outside the classroom, a team of students will provide an environment for students to conduct a wide range of cyber experiments.

A Partnership to Promote Innovation and Excellence in Lower Division Mathematics Courses: $170,000

A collaboration between lower division mathematics faculty and the Motivate Lab, this project aims to increase students’ success in calculus classes through growth-based assessments and a summer bridge program.

UVai Vanguard: $112,870

This project is a groundbreaking initiative to integrate Generative Artificial intelligence (AI) and Large Language Models (LLMs) into academic settings including research, mentorship, and teaching.

Preparing Students for Careers in Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence (CTAP): $90,000

Through research, outreach, collaboration, and pilot courses, the Careers in Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence Program (CTAP) aims to provide UVA students with the skills and knowledge required to succeed in the growing Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence (AI) workforce.

Design Discovery Youth Summer Program: $86,300

Hosted by the UVA School of Architecture, Design Discovery is a six-day summer program bringing high school students to explore design school and related professions, through academic and real-world settings.

The influence of early-life sensory exposure on neural circuitry following preterm birth: $200,000

A multi-disciplinary, cross-Grounds team of researchers and clinicians is examining how variable early life sensory exposure following preterm birth shapes developing neural circuitry to ultimately impact developmental outcomes.

UVA Facilities Management Community Connections Program: $102,000

In partnership with the Charlottesville communities and surrounding counties, Facilities Management is expanding a workforce development pipeline program for middle- and high-schoolers to work towards pre-apprenticeship certification in skilled trades.

ChangeMaker Bootcamp: $20,000

Through skill development, networking, mentorship, and resource access, social entrepreneurial minded students will gain experience planning, developing, and building a new social venture in this week-long program.

Gardening Grounds: Envisioning Alternate Paradigms and Practices of Landscape Care at UVA: $30,000

A collaborative research project across Grounds, involving Landscape Architecture and Architecture graduate students, explores how the design and care of planted landscapes across Grounds can be adapted to sustain greater biodiversity, spark awareness and foster stewardship of the mutual relationship between landscape health and human well-being.

Center for Forest Urbanism: $86,000

A new pan-university research and policy center focused on the conservation of urban trees and forests, the center will engage a range of disciplines, expertise, and partners across Grounds, and nationally, to gather insights from innovative city best practices, law, policy, economics, and science.

VCAC Student Symposium: $30,000

Funding helps to bring current UVA students who were served by Virginia College Advising Corps (VCAC) advisers together for a symposium, which will include networking opportunities and related programming over shared experiences.

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!