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.

2023-24 Annual Cycle is Open

Want to start something new? We can fund it.

UVA students, faculty, and staff: do you have a crazy idea but need funding? The Jefferson Trust Annual Grant Cycle is open for the 2023-24 academic year!

Proposals can come from students, faculty, and staff for a variety of new programs and projects—everything from starting a new student group to supporting an innovative research project to seeding a University initiative. The Annual Cycle is intended for requests with budgets ranging from $10,000 to over $300,000, but there are no minimums and maximums vary based on available funds.

Key dates to remember:

  • August 2023: LOI forms are available in the grant portal and can be submitted now!
    • Every Annual Cycle grant starts with a Letter of Inquiry (LOI), which is an opportunity to simply explain the idea (no need to justify it or cite sources; less is more). Requests are reviewed on a rolling basis.
    • Early LOI entries (before September 15) have a chance for edits and resubmission.
  • October 1: Last day to submit a finalized LOI. From there, selected LOIs move to the proposal stage.
  • October 31: Proposal deadline. After review, the final batch moves forward for in-person pitches to the full Board of Trustees.
  • January 2024: Proposal pitches
  • February 2024: Grants awarded.

We encourage you to plan ahead! You may preview the LOI questions and the Annual Cycle Proposal. When you’re ready to submit an LOI, log on to our Grant Portal.

Annual Cycle Tips

UVA grant seekers, are you already working on your proposal or considering applying for a Jefferson Trust grant? Consider these tips:

  1. Keep your Letter of Inquiry (LOI)/proposal form succinct. The key is to sell the idea first and not get lost in extraneous details.
  2. Use numbers to illustrate the scope and scale of your project whenever possible. Trustees want to clearly see the potential impact of your project—on the student experience, University community, or society at large.
  3. Budgets are important, so double-check your numbers and make sure it all adds up.
  4. Write for a lay audience. Not all reviewers are subject-matter experts in your field, so ask someone who is not affiliated with your project to read the LOI/proposal to see if they understand what you are presenting.
  5. Focus on your project’s novelty, uniqueness, or the specific niche it fills. The Trust has recently moved into funding research projects but is limited to efforts that bring students into the lab or is completely new. Graduate thesis projects, existing projects, or projects that clearly could be funded elsewhere are not likely to receive a Trust grant.

Have additional questions? Visit our grant seekers page to view our grant guidelines and contact our Director of Grants, Amy Bonner, at 434-243-9078 or abonner@virginia.edu. An idea is more likely to be funded if we have a chance to work with the grant seeker. You may preview the LOI questions and the Annual Cycle Proposal.

Grant Projects in the News

Starr Hill Nursing Pathways (Photo: Dan Addison)

Catch up on Trust grant projects recently featured in the news:

Year two of the Starr Hill Pathways program occurred this summer! See features of the camp in the Daily Progress, CBS19 News, and NBC29. In addition, the program has received additional grant funding to further programs, research, and support. Learn more from CBS19 News.

The Holsinger Studio Portrait Project’s “Visions of Progress” exhibition has ended, but additional programming is being planned and offered this fall. Check out this UVA Today feature to see what is in store.

Gideon French received a flash grant in 2021 to lead a team of undergraduate researchers in the digitization, transcription, and curation of private letters written by Rev. John W. Alvord, a Civil War Army Chaplain and Freedmen’s Bureau Superintendent of Schools and Finance. See this blog post about the work involved, history uncovered, and next steps in the project.

To stay up to date on grant news, follow us on Instagram, Facebook , and Twitter.

Announcing New Chair and Vice-Chair of the Jefferson Trust

Alex Arriaga and Jenn Nisi

As we begin a new fiscal year, we also welcome a new chair, Alex Arriaga (Col ’87), and vice chair, Jenn Nisi (Engr ’98). Both are slated to serve two-year terms and guide the Trust towards new grantmaking and fundraising heights.

Alex Arriaga is the founder and partner at Strategy for Humanity LLC, a consulting firm that works with mission-driven organizations and those who fund them to achieve meaningful results. She has deep expertise on a breadth of global issues and policy development and a successful track record facilitating organization-wide priority-setting, strategic planning, and change management.

Earlier in her career, Alex held leadership roles at the White House, US Congress, and large international nonprofits. She has served as the Vice-Chair of the Jefferson Trust for the past two years, has been on the Board of Trustees since 2012, and serves on several Boards focused on education, disability inclusion, refugees, and human rights. Alex is bilingual and of Spanish and Chilean descent.

Jenn Nisi has been a Jefferson Trust Trustee since 2019. She is General Manager for Innovation in the Microsoft Industry Solution Group, helping customers achieve business outcomes through Digital Transformation and Process reengineering. In her more than 25 years with Microsoft, Jenn has served in various roles including Chief Technology Officer, Director of Global Workforce Planning, and P&L Leader for the Americas Industry Solutions Organization.

In 2003, Jenn established Sprout Creek Capital, which invests in early-stage seed startups, established technology funds, and new businesses in the Hudson Valley area. She brings her experience in scaling delivery and customer success organizations to founders throughout the Hudson Valley and the New York Metro Area. She continues to sit on the Board of Trustees for Dutchess Day School, a pre-k through 8th grade private school in Millbrook, NY.

Alex and Jenn bring extensive professional experience and a passion for all things UVA to their new roles. We look forward to the great years ahead!

New Flash Grants Highlight Student Experiences

The Jefferson Trust has awarded $96,350 across 14 flash funding grants since January.

“Creativity is key this semester! We have received a tremendous number of submissions, primarily from students, seeking to shake things up and move in new directions” shared Director of Grants, Amy Bonner.

Educational opportunities are the standout theme this spring. Whether it’s coming together to learn at programmatic events like the Darden Emerging Markets Conference, Virginia Undergraduate Investment Conference, and the Black Student Business Expo, creating a better way to study organic chemistry, or educational opportunities for incarcerated individuals, people around UVA are seeking out new ways to learn and engage.

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 2023 Flash Grants:

Darden Emerging Markets Conference: $10,000

International affinity clubs at Darden are organizing the inaugural Darden Emerging Markets Conference, bringing together thought leaders, professionals, academicians, and students to discuss business and growth opportunities and challenges in global emerging markets in a post-COVID world.

Laboratory for Citizen Education and Leadership: $10,000

Funding provides student leaders across Grounds opportunities to engage and learn from mixed-reality simulations, to increase leaders’ understanding of and capacity for thoughtful and ethical community-engaged leadership.

Behavioral Science Across Grounds: $9,240

Funding helps to establish the first formal gathering of behavioral scientists across the University, providing an opportunity for improved collaborations, better training, strategic planning, and a greater sense of community.

Creating a Cohesive and Coordinated Food Union: Food Union Banquet: $3,200

The Food Union aims to integrate all the UVA Food-related CIOs and their goals of food-related work. This spring’s banquet brings together student leaders, University leadership, and community members to strengthen relationships and to increase awareness about sustainable and just food systems.

Morven Student Days: $10,000

Morven Farms will be open to all students during Morven Student Days and will provide transportation to and from Grounds. Students can study, relax, learn, and explore Morven through unique programming opportunities.

Students participate in yoga during Morven Student Days this spring.

Orgopoly: The Organic Chemistry Monopoly/Gameboard: $1,522

A student-created game designed to review Organic Chemistry I and II, Orgopoly aims to innovate and enliven the process of studying chemistry.

Predicting Neurodevelopmental Outcomes at the Bedside: $3,187

Funding helps establish a student research project to understand the connection between brain activity in premature infants and abnormal social development linked to autism.

The Virginia Undergraduate Investment Conference (VUIC): $10,000

The Virginia Finance Institute is hosting the VUIC stock pitch conference, bringing students together from multiple universities to provide hands-on experience in equity analysis and investment skills, networking opportunities, and professional growth.

VLPP Prison Education Program : $10,000

In partnership with The Decarceration Clinic at UVA Law and Resilience Education (RE), funding expands the Entrepreneurial Reentry Education Program model to include law school students in developing and teaching educational course materials for incarcerated learners.

Black Economic Empowerment Society (BEES): $9,734

Through a business development program, educational events, and community partnerships, BEES aims to increase financial literacy, emphasize the importance of asset ownership, and empower Black UVA students to start businesses.

{in}Visible Magazine: $3,170

Funding helps to launch the first literary publication at the University of Virginia dedicated to Asian Pacific Islander South Asian American (APISAA) community on Grounds, creating a space for exploring and sharing unique experiences through writing and art.

Talking Trees: $1,546

With the purchase of a print press, a folio of wood prints is being created as a visual catalogue of the different species of trees from across Grounds, providing tangible education to UVA students.

America’s Disappearing Chinatowns: $5,250

This project aids in student research of Chinatowns around the US by exploring the emergence and endurance of Chinatowns within the larger global context and culminating in the creation of a book to document students’ observation and research.

UVA x Nocturnal Medicine: $9,500

In partnership with the nonprofit Nocturnal Medicine, the Student Association of Landscape Architecture and Design (SALAD) is planning an event in fall 2023 concentrating on regeneration, focus, re-grounding, and building community among School of Architecture students.

Summit Update

On April 21, active grant directors, Trustees, and some of our University partners met at Darden for the second annual Jefferson Trust Summit. The purpose was to provide additional resources to grantees and members of the University community. Students, faculty, staff, alumni, and parents were able to engage and discuss the great work across Grounds.

In addition to multiple networking and brainstorming opportunities, structured events included panel discussions on making a pitch and promoting a project, as well as a resource fair. The resource fair was new for this year and gave grantees an opportunity to learn more about pan-University resources, such as the Licensing & Ventures Group, or external organizations, such as local media outlets.

“We are always looking to support our grantees and other members of the University community in any way we can,” noted Brent Percival, the Trust’s executive director.  “The Summit is a way the Trust can add value beyond grantmaking alone, and I’m thrilled we could include other University and external partners this year”.

He went on to say, “we see the Trust as connecting inspired ideas with dedicated donors, and the more opportunities we have to do that, the better”.

The Trust will continue to look at new ways to bring people together, and if you have any ideas, please send us your thoughts, jeffersontrust@virginia.edu.

2023-24 Annual Cycle is Open

Our Annual Cycle application is open for the 2023-24 academic year! The Annual Cycle is intended for requests with budgets ranging from $10,000 to over $300,000, but there are no minimums and maximums vary based on available funds.

Important dates to remember:

  • April 13: First day to submit an LOI
    • Every Annual Cycle grant starts with a Letter of Inquiry (LOI), which is an opportunity to simply explain the idea (no need to justify it or cite sources; less is more). Requests are reviewed on a rolling basis.
    • Early LOI entries (before September 15) could have a chance for edit and resubmission.
  • October 1: Last day to submit a finalized LOI. From there, selected LOIs move to the proposal stage.
  • October 31: Proposal deadline. After further review, a final batch moves forward for in-person pitches to the full Board of Trustees.
  • January: Proposal pitches
  • February:Grants awarded

We encourage you to plan ahead! Visit our grant seekers page to view our grant guidelines and contact our Director of Grants, Amy Bonner, at 434-243-9078 or abonner@virginia.edu. An idea is more likely to be funded if we have a chance to work with the grant seeker.

You may preview the LOI questions and the Annual Cycle Proposal. When you’re ready to submit an LOI, log on to our Grant Portal.

Grants in the News

Hosting trainings and events, conducting research and workshops—our grantees have been busy! Check out projects recently featured in the news:

  • The Trust was an early supporter of the Darden Prisoner Reentry Education Initiative, in 2013, and we’re thrilled to see its continued growth and impact in Darden News and on NBC29.
  • Learn about the community and programming C-ville Tulips has established in their UVA Arts Winter Magazine feature.
  • The Transformative Autism Biomarker Research Initiative, a 2020 grant recipient, received coverage from 13 News Now.
  • CBS19 featured the work of Including Preschoolers with Autism and Piloting Open-Source Educational Model, two of our newest annual grant recipients.
  • The School of Medicine’s, Medicine in Motion News highlighted the research work of Dr. Sean Moore’s Lab, Organ-on-a-chip technology, a 2023 annual grant recipient.

    Researchers from Dr. Sean Moore’s Lab are researching organ-on-a-chip technology.
  • PBS News Hour highlighted the work and impact of the Holsinger Portrait Project, a 2022 grant recipient.
  • UVA and local researchers are creating and conducting new autism training for local emergency responders to improve patient interactions and care. Read more about this 2022 flash grant project.
  • The Virginia Law in Prison Project, one of our newest flash grant recipients, involves UVA Law students developing and teaching incarcerated individuals. Read more about the scope of their work in this UVA Today feature.
  • UVA Edge received a Trust grant in 2021. They’re continuing to expand and enhance their program for adult learners. Read their progress in UVA Today.
  • A 2022 grant recipient from The Equity Center, Starr Hill Pathways brings local middle-school students to Grounds to explore college and career pathways. A group of approximately 40 Starr Hill Pathways students visited Grounds recently to learn about UVA’s School of Nursing.
  • Orpheus & Erica: A Deaf Opera held performances in mid-March. This one-of-a-kind theatre experience brought together opera, deaf actors, and the UVA Chamber Singers.