Annual Grant Cycle Updated & Open!

We fund great ideas. To apply, start with a Letter of Inquiry.

The Jefferson Trust Annual Cycle application is open for the 2021-22 academic year, and we’ve streamlined our process! We have implemented a two-step application to help grant seekers refine their project and opportunity for funding. 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. In addition, the full application has been revised and simplified.

Timeline of New Process:

  1. Now – LOI forms are currently available in the grant portal and may be submitted any time prior to October 1!
  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 the LOI change and will be conducted with the simplified one-step application document. We encourage you to plan ahead, register to participate in our upcoming Grants Information Session, or contact Amy, Director of Grants & Oversight, with questions.

Light at the End of Tunnel

Astronomical constellations digitally projected onto the interior dome of the Rotunda. This project was funded by the Jefferson Trust.

This time last year we had no idea what the future would hold. Everyone on Grounds and across the Country was masked, and markets were stagnant, but we were “alone together.” We were walking into a tunnel not knowing where it would lead but knowing we had to move forward.

There were rays of light along the way. In the Trust’s 15th year, we hit records in proposal funding requests of $4,063,323 and grant funding of $1,112,157. The University of Virginia Investment Management Company posted phenomenal returns leading to dramatic endowment growth. Zoom proficiency made Trustees halfway around the world seem as close as colleagues in Charlottesville.

As the tunnel’s end grows brighter, the path forward is clear and full of optimism.

The Trust welcomes a new Chair, Sharon Owlett (Law ’75), and Vice Chair, Alex Arriaga (Col ’87). Both are in their second Trustee terms and have a deep understanding of the organization and what lies ahead.

“The future of The Jefferson Trust is all about impact,” says Sharon.

“Every idea we fund is designed to change lives, from student-led projects to University-wide initiatives. The strength of our endowment and the dedication of our Trustees and staff, past and present, have given us the foundation not only to fund innovation, but to fund it first.

“We want all of the creative, exciting minds we have here at UVA to have only one thought: Let’s take this to the Trust.”

A new annual grants process will help bring those new ideas to fruition. The Trustees have implemented a letter of inquiry (LOI) system to help grant-seekers develop the best proposals possible, which we hope will increase the yield of proposals receiving funding as well as allowing funding at larger amounts. This development will be supported by an increased annual cycle funding amount of $1.25 million.

As students, faculty and staff return to Grounds, the Trust is ready to help chart the next path for UVA.

Grant Projects in the News

A small autonomous car built by the Cavalier Autonomous Racing Club

Many grant projects are working over the summer, and their efforts have been highlighted in news outlets!

The Cavalier Autonomous Racing Club is testing, training, and preparing to race at the Indy Autonomous Challenge in October. To take a look behind the scenes and follow their journey, visit the School of Engineering and Applied Science’s YouTube page.

UVA’s School of Architecture arctic exhibition has opened at the Venice Biennale; the team received a Trust flash grant in 2020.

Trust funding is supporting UVA’s partnership and work in the “Green Book” digital project, which received a flash grant in 2021.

UVA Edge, a 2021 annual grant recipient from the School of Continuing and Professional Studies, has recently launched a partnership with Univision to provide employees access to higher education workforce development.

Teachers in the Movement received a Trust grant in 2014 as they began capturing early oral histories from educators who taught between 1950 and 1980 throughout the South. They’ve launched a podcast featuring the voices and stories of those teachers.

The Buzz about Infrastructure

Infrastructure. It’s becoming a bit of a buzz word, but what does it actually mean? According to the Oxford dictionary, it comprises “the basic physical and organizational structures and facilities (e.g. buildings, roads, power supplies) needed for the operation of a society or enterprise.” So infrastructure is…everything!

Will PikeWill Pike (Engr ’16) serves as a regional vice president at Pike Corporation, which is described as “a leading provider of turnkey infrastructure solutions for electric and gas utilities, as well as telecommunications companies.” So, what does “infrastructure” mean today and what does the future hold? The Trust Staff asked Will Pike to find out.

Jefferson Trust: What’s happening in infrastructure?

Will Pike: Infrastructure has certainly been a big conversation topic nationally, and events such as Winter Storm Uri in Texas last February and President Biden’s legislative agenda have brought critical infrastructure even more into the spotlight. Our company actively serves hundreds of utilities and cooperatives across the nation, and I can say, without question, this is the most exciting time to be in our space. The levels of investment in grid modernization and hardening coupled with a focus on technological innovation are unprecedented. These opportunities do not come without their challenges though. Our industry faces an aging skilled workforce and must continuously seek new ways to attract and develop the talent of tomorrow.

Jefferson Trust: What does the future of our electric grid look like?

Will Pike: We will continue to see technology as the driving force for not only the operation and resiliency of the grid, but also more broadly in the context of how work is performed and how critical infrastructure personnel collaborate in real time across complex systems and large geographies. With my engineering background, I’m particularly excited by the opportunities for software and data science innovation. These two areas will be critical to empowering people to accomplish more with the tools they have at their disposal and developing more data-driven approaches to skills assessment and development, which will help to compress the overall training curve for future infrastructure workers.

Jefferson Trust: Is renewable energy a big driver?

Will Pike: The landscape of energy generation changed over the last decade with greater focus on distributed energy resources, such as wind, solar and battery storage. We have been heavily involved with solar projects as well as battery storage, which we see as a critical part of the future grid. The combination of smart grid technology and storage resources, such as large-scale battery storage, will better equip utilities to manage peak demand scenarios as well as provide sustainable reliability and resiliency improvements. We are also following the advancement of electric vehicles very closely and see considerable opportunity in the buildout of charging infrastructure and the possibility to leverage EVs as distributed energy resources.

Jefferson Trust: What role does/can UVA play in this space?

Will Pike: I think the University is extraordinarily well-positioned to be a catalyst for infrastructure advancement given its extensive depth across disciplines, access to industry leaders and policymakers, and highly respected national reputation. Students at the University are also fortunate to have such a strong and diverse alumni network, which is an incredible resource for anyone interested in pursuing careers or launching entrepreneurial ventures related to infrastructure.

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.

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.