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 als9n@virginia.edu, 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 kluge-ruhe.org 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.”

The End of an Era: Wayne Cozart set to Retire

Wayne Cozart, shown here shaking hands with a grant recipient, retires leaving a rich legacy with the Jefferson Trust.

For over 40 years, alumni have entered Alumni Hall and seen a smiling, familiar face. Since the 1980s, students have seen him walking across the Lawn and welcoming them into one of the three Pavilions he has called home. Wayne Cozart is a fixture of the UVA and alumni communities, always sporting an orange and blue tie. Alongside his wife, Vice President for Student Affairs Pat Lampkin, Wayne’s introductions to undergraduate students have transformed into decades-long relationships.

For him, the student experience and alumni experience are part of one seamless relationship and reflect his appreciation for the unique character of UVA men and women. He fell in love with the concept of student self-governance in his early days at the University. When he moved to Alumni Hall, it was only fitting he extended this concept into “alumni self-governance.” Wayne’s belief in the individual and their abilities, combined with his belief in what is possible for UVA, made him the ideal person to lead the Jefferson Trust for the past eleven years.

At the end of 2020, Wayne will retire from the Trust, leaving a legacy of impact and advancement.

One of the Trust’s original trustees, Sharon Owlett, who rejoined the board after her original term ended, has seen the organization transform under Wayne’s leadership. She remarked, “All of us know what a memorable working relationship looks and feels like: your visions sync, you build on each other’s strategies, you solve each other’s problems, you even share the same sense of humor. What you create is always something in which to take pride in. Those of us lucky enough to work with Wayne throughout his tenure on the Trust have had the gift of that kind of relationship with him. The Trust as it stands today is a testament to his ability to bond with a disparate, diverse group of people to weave us all together to build something great.”

Building synergy and community is what has helped make the trustee experience so unique. These elements are a core part of Wayne’s leadership style and have had a direct impact on the fund’s successes.

Reflecting on his tenure, Wayne notes, “During my time leading the Jefferson Trust, it has transitioned from a brilliant idea by the Alumni Association into a flourishing endowment with assets of $36 million.  Thanks to the commitment and philanthropy of the Trustees, the Trust has been able to have a major impact on the lives of students and faculty.”

Both the Trust’s endowment and annual grant amount have more than doubled during Wayne’s tenure.  His stewardship, mentorship and friendship have positioned the organization toward continued success.

When asked to reflect on his time at the helm, Wayne instead opines on what’s possible for the organization moving forward: the grants, gifts and global impact he knows will shape the University. He says, “In the future, the entrepreneurial spirit of the Trust will take the University of Virginia to new heights further enhancing the Thomas Jefferson’s vision of a great university.”

It is a process, culture and vision we can all rally behind, and a challenge we humbly accept.

A Big Ask: Grant Requests Set New Record

Line chart showing the annual grant cycle dollars requested since 2015. The 2021 amount sets a record high.

Thank you, UVA students, faculty and staff: the Jefferson Trust received 57 proposals this year, seeking a total of $4 million in our annual grants cycle for the first time in the history of the Trust! Submissions span a wide range of topics, including diversity and inclusion efforts, outreach to our local community, and improving teaching and learning for UVA students in the midst of COVID, as well as several creative student endeavors. Our Trustees are now reading and reviewing the ideas that will enhance and expand the University. The Trust will make awards totaling $1 million this year — which means tough decisions ahead for our Trustees!

If you missed the annual cycle deadline, Flash Funding applications will open in January 2021. Flash funding awards grants of $10,000 or less for more immediate use. All proposals submitted in a month will have a decision made on the 15th of the following month. Funding is available monthly until funds are depleted. See our Apply page and Facebook for more information when the application opens.

As always, we are available to answer any questions or meet to discuss your potential project. Contact our Grants Administrator, Amy Bonner, at als9n@virginia.edu.

Carrying on Despite COVID

Emily Beyer (Engr ’22) conducts research for the Jefferson Trust grant “Guiding Student Research of Air-filtering Technologies.”

This spring, the world as we know it was upended. Workplaces shuttered, students were sent home, and for many, life came to a screeching halt. As the University community worked to adapt and find the best course forward, the Jefferson Trust was determined to support our grant recipients.

The first step was to affirm our continued support as programs and events were canceled, rescheduled or restructured. The majority of grant recipients are students or faculty, who were simultaneously adapting to the new academic landscape, and the Trust’s goal was to ensure that they could focus on primary responsibilities without detriment to their grant funding.

We began to hear from recipients.

  • The Virginia Motorsports Team reported that with students unable to gather, their work on the SAE car had been halted. They requested an extension to delay their participation in the annual SAE race until 2021.
  • A student documentary was delayed as in-person interviews were cancelled and moved virtual.
  • A project that involved a partnership with local elementary school teachers was delayed for a year in anticipation of a more-stressful-than-normal school year ahead.

Some updates were positive!

  • Several groups were able to transition their original events to virtual events. The Alumni Association’s Retold project was one — Trust funds were reallocated to launch the virtual platform.
  • A graduate student conference originally scheduled for April was postponed until October, and in October it went fully virtual.
  • A project aimed at capturing oral histories of alumni of the 1960s and 1970s pivoted when Reunions was cancelled, as the team planned to record the interviews that weekend. However, they were able to reallocate the production-related costs to provide student interns with stipends in order to conduct the interviews via Zoom over the summer.
  • A project funded in February to allow a small group of students to investigate various approaches to modeling COVID saw a dramatic increase in student interest and expanded their original plan to include more than double the student and faculty participants.
  • A research project set to investigate air-filtering technologies to fight air pollution turned into a rapid-response effort in utilizing those same technologies for PPE alternatives against COVID.

And this is just a sampling! Across the board, our resilient grant recipient community was able to dig in and move forward in these unusual circumstances. We want to congratulate all of our grant recipients and their teams on their masterful adaptations and their determination to carry forward in the safest way possible.

Design + Med Ed

Medical Students work to create solutions to challenges observed as a part of UVA’s Medical Design Program.

Design thinking, also known as human-centered design, is a problem-solving framework for addressing complex, system-based challenges. UVA is at the forefront of a growing group of medical schools and health systems exploring how design thinking can be integrated into medical education. Students engage in hands-on ‘design sprint’ workshops focused on priority healthcare issues, using data they collect through direct engagement with patients, healthcare leaders and community members. The UVA Medical Design Program (UVAMDP) gives future physicians the skills, confidence and experience they need to help address complex patient care and public health challenges throughout their careers.

The program was created in 2015, focusing on instruction to first-year medical students. However, due to continued growth and demand, UVAMDP received a second Jefferson Trust grant in 2019 to help expand access to ‘health design thinking’ curriculum and workshops. Funds went towards developing credit courses and electives for medical students throughout their time at UVA and to develop online versions of program workshops that can be shared as research within and outside of the UVA School of Medicine.

The Medical Design Program has become an established and valued part of the medical education culture and offerings at UVA, such that prospective students are consistently inquiring about the program. Medical design lectures are being integrated throughout the school’s curriculum, both in workshops to the entire second-year class and in a new elective for fourth-year students approved by the school’s curriculum committee, with the first course being offered in February 2021.

In addition, and most relevant to 2020, the Medical Design Program team was able to quickly assist in the School of Medicine’s response to COVID-impacted students by quickly developing and deploying virtual five-day design sprint workshops for third- and fourth-year students who were not allowed onto clinical wards, but needed to continue their studies. While their project has been delayed due to the demands of adapting to COVID-19, the pandemic has also helped the team think critically on the types of flipped classrooms and online learning curriculum that will be most useful as long-term educational offerings for students.

Not only is the program impacting medical students and faculty, it is also providing a center for multi-disciplinary collaboration focused on improving public health and healthcare through design thinking and other design approaches. Faculty engagements with the Medical Design Program are from across Grounds, including Architecture, Engineering, Nursing, Darden and the College.

The Medical Design Thinking Team, led by Dr. Matthew Trowbridge, has been nationally recognized for their work, publishing peer review articles, contributing to a recently published ‘Health Design Thinking’ textbook, and speaking widely about their work and impact at UVA. You can visit their website to learn more.

Jefferson Trust 2019-20 Annual Report

Snippet of cover of the 2019-20 Annual Report

This has been an exceptional year for the Jefferson Trust as you can see in our 2019–20 Annual Report. Our Flash Funding cycle has proven successful and the Trustees have voted to make it a permanent fixture of our grant-making. This was a year of crisis with COVID-19, and the Trustees responded by giving an out of cycle emergency grant to President Ryan to aide in the University’s response. All told, for the first time, the Trustees awarded over $1 million in grants, which will further President Ryan’s strategic plan and impact on the UVA Community.

The seeds of funding trustees sowed several years ago are blossoming into significant, important fixtures of University life. To date, the Jefferson Trust has granted more than $8.9 million to 227 different projects covering a broad range of schools and programs, resulting in strengthening the quality of education, as well as Virginia’s national and global reputation.

We are excited to share the continued growth and impact of the Trust on Grounds and beyond! The trustees eagerly await the next great idea.