Investing Beyond Tuition

The Burgoyne family

Even during a pandemic, the fall semester brings enthusiasm from new and returning students. The fall is also a time for parents, the unsung heroes of the collegiate process. They provide their fledgling college students with moral support, advice, and often to their chagrin, credit card access. Some parents elect to take this challenge a step further: they become trustees, doubling down on their investment in the student experience.

Twenty-three of the 71 trustees are parents to current students or have a child who is an alumnus.

For the parents of current students, being trustees gives them insight to the UVA community and makes them part of the University’s life. They learn more about their child’s professors and about what student groups are doing, and they help shape the student experience by voting on new grants.

The Clark family

Jon Clark (College ’81) and his wife, Terri Clark (Parent ’16, ’22) are the parents of two Wahoos. Their daughter, Devon, finished in 2016 and their son, Jack, is a third year.

Terri, who is not an alumna, has been just as involved in the Trust as Jon. She believes strongly in the unique value the Trust adds to the University community, stating, “I feel lucky to be able to participate in such a unique investment vehicle at The University of Virginia. The Jefferson Trust relies on each trustee to use their varied skills to vet, select, award and advise grantees on initiatives that will benefit the UVA community.”

The Trust also brings Jon and Terri closer to UVA, and to their son’s new home. “It’s especially fun to be a trustee while my son is attending the University. The Trust gives my husband and me, currently Arizona residents, an excuse to visit once a quarter. And while my son may feel we see him more than he had ever envisioned, he is always eager to meet the other trustees at events.”

Jim Taylor (Com ’88, Law ’94) has been a trustee since 2016, when his daughter Gracie became a first year. “I love the experience of connecting with current students and faculty and seeing the innovative grant requests. It’s a wonderful way to be part of the university community,” he says.

Most of the trustees who are parents of alumni are alumni themselves and being on the Trust is a chance to reconnect to the family’s school. However, for trustees such as Jim and Erin Burgoyne who did not attend UVA, being part of the Trust has provided an opportunity to give back to the school that helped shape their son, a 2016 graduate. Speaking of the experience, they believe he “benefited from the University of Virginia’s strong academic credentials and core principles of honor and integrity.”

In joining the Jefferson Trust, the Burgoynes say they found “a focused and hands-on opportunity to contribute to the student experience and help the University of Virginia continue developing citizen leaders.”

This sentiment of ‘developing citizen leaders’ truly befits the Trust’s namesake and is a testament to all the trustees — alumni, parents and friends — who continue Jefferson’s charge over 200 years later.

Flash Funding Grant Cycle Announcement

The preservation of the Alderman card catalog is among the flash funding grant recipients

The Jefferson Trust is excited to announce our 2019–2020 Flash Funding Grant Awards, totaling $108,716. A majority of the 13 projects awarded went to student organizations.

The flash grants are:

Rotunda Planetarium Phase 2 & Preservation of Alderman Card Catalog: $10,000

Funding provides additional public nights for the Rotunda Planetarium and the publication of a book detailing the multidisciplinary history of the Rotunda. An ongoing project to preserve the historic Alderman Library card catalog for future research will also be supported.

Aboriginal Art on Grounds (Documentary): $7,000

Funding supports the production of a short documentary capturing student engagement with Aboriginal art at UVA through two recent exhibitions: “The Inside World” at the Fralin Museum and “Munguyhmunguyh (Forever)” at the Rotunda.

Native American Student Union Powwow: $3,750

NASU’s Powwow at UVA is an annual celebration of Native American culture and the biggest event the organization hosts. The powwow is open to the public and has hosted nearly 600 spectators who learn about Native traditions through engaging in a broader community.

Formula SAE Team 2019–20: $9,966

Funding will support and expand experiential learning for the fledgling Formula SAE team as they design and build a car to race in national competition.

UVA Safe and Sustainable Driving: $7,000

A team of students will analyze data collected by Facilities Management from 182 fleet vehicles to improve driving skills and sustainable driving practices. This will allow the team to generate initial results in order to secure larger funding through NSF or DOE sources.

Graduate English Students Association’s Annual Graduate Conference (UVA GradCon): $1,000

The Graduate English Students Association will present an annual graduate conference, themed “Transformation.”

Kluge-Ruhe Permanent and Summer Exhibitions 2020: $10,000

UVA students will gain significant experience in helping with two upcoming exhibitions: “From Little Things, Big Things Grow” in the permanent exhibition galleries at Kluge-Ruhe; and the summer exhibition in Kluge-Ruhe’s rotating gallery, “Bapurru (Remembering): New Yolngu Prints from Milingimbi and Yirrkala.”

Retold: Celebrating Women of the University of Virginia: $10,000

To honor the 100th anniversary of the Board of Visitors resolution allowing white women to enroll in some of the University’s graduate and professional programs and the 50th anniversary of full coeducation, the UVA Alumni Association and the Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center at UVA will host Retold, a celebration of the transformational impact of women on the University of Virginia.

Modeling the Spreading of the Coronavirus: $10,000

School of Engineering faculty are creating three research groups of undergraduate students who will set up effective models for the spread of the disease and then merge the three models into a more comprehensive model.

Arctic Design Group | 2020 Venice Architecture Biennale, Italy: $10,000

Funding will support Architecture faculty and students in the production of an Arctic-focused design installation which will be exhibited at the world-renowned Venice Architecture Biennale. The group’s participation in the Biennale will provide a unique opportunity to promote UVA’s design excellence and provide an exceptional experience to UVA students on a premier global stage.

“Stepping Out” into Deeper Understandings of Marginalized Families: $10,000

Using recent research, this project will help train teachers for home visits, focusing on self-reflection, understanding systemic privilege and disadvantage, and recognizing listening techniques that are more and less effective for deepening relationships.

So Many Ways to Say “I Belong at UVA”: Documenting Linguistic Diversity among the UVA Student Body: $10,000

This project will help to train teachers for home visits, focusing on self-reflection, understanding systemic privilege and disadvantage, and recognizing listening techniques that are more and less effective for deepening relationships.

1970: May Strike in Context — Oral Histories of Alumni: $10,000

The UVA Library will host a major exhibition, “1970: May Strike in Context,” to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the May Strike and the larger cultural context that sparked student activism at UVA.

Men Behind the Masks

Gaurav “Gino” Giri and Bala Mulloth

Everyone is experiencing the changes and effects of COVID-19 at varying levels. This is true for Gaurav “Gino” Giri, Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering, and Bala Mulloth, Assistant Professor of Public Policy. These professors are co-founders of Hava, Inc., and received a $100,000 Jefferson Trust grant in January to recruit students across Grounds to aid in researching air-filtering technologies, partnering with stakeholders to study the impact of these technologies in the U.S. and several developing countries, and working with entrepreneurially minded students interested in bringing emerging research to market. Both professors hope students will develop hands-on, practical experience, while also increasing their critical and creative thinking skills.

Since March though, the nature of their project has changed and is growing increasingly timely and impactful. Mulloth shares that “we need a three-month runway before product is ready for market, but the need is immediate.” “Science labs are closed, and not having students on Grounds to help in research is a big disadvantage” admits Giri. But Giri has kept his lab in use, volunteering his lab space and time to test the filtration strength of homemade masks and N95-like masks, making sure these masks work to filter coronavirus particles at the appropriate level. The team is hoping that students can still help with market research and design concepts for masks and potential future wearable filtration items (i.e. a scarf). To meet needs more quickly, Giri and Mulloth are also exploring sub-licensing opportunities and other options with companies to get masks manufactured as efficiently as possible.

The initial motivation for establishing Hava was to create affordable air filtration products to make life in heavily polluted areas healthier for all, as the World Health Organization labeled air pollution “a silent public health emergency” in October 2018. However, through the coronavirus outbreak, both Mulloth and Giri see a long-term increased need for their air-filtering products that they initially didn’t expect.

With the help of Scott Gwilliam (Com ’91), Keith Woodard (Col ’71, Darden ’75), trustees and the project’s mentors, the team is contacting manufacturers about how to scale production and bring more masks to market. To stay up-to-date on Hava news, follow their website.

Breaking the Sound Barrier: A Deaf Opera Workshop

Three female opera singers

What is opera without the voice? How does the story change when the lead characters are deaf?

The Breaking the Sound Barrier workshop explored these questions, and many more, and made an impressive start at integrating such seemingly disparate experiences. The creative team behind this endeavor hopes that the work done and the lessons learned will transfer into a full production opera in the next year.

The intensive weeklong workshop culminated in a performance at Old Cabell Hall which kicked off the Disabilities Studies Symposium. It was a truly inspirational event!

Three professional opera singers and three deaf actors traveled to Charlottesville to hold this workshop on Grounds, allowing UVA students to interact with, learn from and participate through the process. While the event took place at the end of February, preparations began months in advance. The creative team selected six scenes from Poulenc’s “Dialogues of the Carmelites” (an opera which focuses on the religious persecution of a group of nuns during the French Revolution) and began translating them into a stage version of American Sign Language. Via video conferencing and finally in-person, the team of actors, singers, the conductor and the director struggled with a multitude of challenges over several months. In an article from the Washington Post, director Alek Lev declined to share a vision for the event until the group came together in-person to rehearse — it was that groundbreaking.

At the performance on February 27, the audience was a mix of deaf and hearing, and the majority had little or no experience with opera. After an opening scene, director Alek Lev welcomed the audience and walked through some of the challenges the team had faced in rehearsals that week. The scene was then presented again, reimagined. Throughout the performance, Lev interjected with explanations, providing background on intervening scenes not presented and sharing anecdotes about the scene to come. In one scene, an ensemble of UVA student singers joined the actors on the stage for Ave Maria.

At the end of the performance actors, singers, directors, and interpreters gathered on stage for a Q&A session with the audience. Each shared personal stories of powerful moments during the workshop and the months of preparations leading up to it. Everyone agreed it was one of the most important things they’ve done, and there was a deep interest in continuing to explore the integration of deaf opera from all parties.

“Breaking the Sound Barrier” is the brainchild of Brenda Patterson and Miriam Gordon-Stewart of Victory Hall Opera in Charlottesville. Patterson is a faculty member at the University of Virginia Music Department. Watch for more information on their progress toward a full production of “Dialogues of the Carmelites!” For those who missed the live performance, a documentary of the workshop is also in progress.

Experience at Every (St)age

We tend to think of the word ‘experience’ in terms of time (i.e., do you have enough of it to be knowledgeable?).  But ‘experience’ can also mean perspective (i.e., what is the knowledge you gained from yours?).  Both are vital to maintaining a successful board with a diversity of backgrounds and views exercised to meet the needs of a dynamic organization.

The Jefferson Trust needs — and has — both, as both are critical to effectively evaluating grant proposals.

The trustees span six decades of UVA alumni, from 1963 to 2019.

The oldest trustee, Lee Forker, completed his MBA from Darden in 1963.  A Navy Vietnam Veteran and retired Boston-based professional investor, Forker is also the longest serving trustee, carrying a great deal of organizational memory. He brings broad knowledge of the financial sector and UVA’s philanthropic landscape.  He is a principal supporter of the annual Alumni Family Weekend, annually supports the Darden Foundation and created an endowed chair in the College of Arts and Sciences to honor his favorite Darden professor, John D. Forbes.

Forker serves on the Trust’s Grants Committee, reviewing every proposal and taking pages of copious notes on each.  He’s a stickler for financial details and the likelihood of success of each application and is laser-focused on making sure each grant has a clear and direct impact on Grounds, saying, “I only approve applications that will benefit some sector of the University.”

He loves the projects and the people, saying that “It keeps me sharp.” He quips, “It’s the surest way to stave off Alzheimer’s.” “And I love the wisdom of older people and the energy of young people.”

One of those young people is George Brown, a 2019 graduate of the College. Brown is just starting his career, working with the action and adventure sports media company Teton Gravity Research. He is well aware of the value a broad age range plays in a grant-making body.  He says, “While the younger generation may have a pulse on current students, we are all tied to the University through its traditions, which are often carried by the older generation.”

“[The trustees’] range of perspectives are tied to the same goal,” he says. That goal is advancing UVA, and Brown wants to work on that goal for the rest of his life.  “For me, the Trust is the first step in a lifetime of service to the University.”

The exact midpoint between George’s 2019 graduation year and Lee’s in 1963 is 1991, which is the year that husband and wife trustee pair Jenn and Scott Gwilliam both graduated.  Jenn and Scott are also parents to two current students, which gives them a unique perspective in reviewing grant applications. “We watch people present [their proposals] and see the impact through our kids’ eyes,” says Scott.  “One of my daughter’s favorite professors is a grantee, and I was able see the grant in action in her class.”

Scott Gwilliam is a regular mentor to grantees as well.  Most recently, he’s worked to help 2020 grantees Gaurav Giri, Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering, and Bala Mulloth, Assistant Professor of Public Policy, in scaling their mask-filtering technology to help stop the spread of viruses such as COVID-19 and protect people in areas with bad air pollution. “It has enormous potential, and I hope I can help,” he says.

For Jen and Scott Gwilliam, this experience and these relationships — including those with fellow trustees — are what makes the Trust so special. Scott says, “There’s energy and enthusiasm from younger trustees, expertise and knowledge from people in the middle, and wisdom and warmth from the older trustees.  It’s one of the most dynamic, interesting and fun ways to give back.”

Annual Cycle Grant Announcement

Grant recipient Cavalier Autonomous Racing member Madhur Behl

The Jefferson Trust is excited to announce our 2019–2020 annual grant awards totaling $853,357. The 14 projects awarded in this funding opportunity represent a milestone for the Trust—the single largest number of $100,000+ awards made at one time!

In 2020, the Jefferson Trust will award $1 million for the first time in the organization’s history. This will be accomplished through the long-standing annual grants, established annual awards, and the new flash funding awards.

The 2020 annual grants are:

Transformative Autism Biomarker Research Initiative: $122,928

A multidisciplinary group of researchers and clinicians is developing a newborn screening protocol to identify abnormal neurodevelopment before clinical symptoms manifest. In the face of steeply rising autism rates, early intervenion has the potential to drastically improve outcomes.

Guiding Student Research to Solve Global Problems in Air Pollution: $100,000

In October 2018, the World Health Organization officially labeled air pollution “a silent public health emergency.” Through this initiative, students will gain familiarity with air-filtering technologies and will partner with faculty to study the impact of those technologies in the U.S. and several developing countries.

Community-Engaged Learning and Leadership Initiative at Madison House: $100,000

A cohort of Madison House student leaders will enroll in courses focused on community-based learning and service projects, all while volunteering in the Charlottesville community. Madison House will then pair interested UVA faculty and their class syllabi with community partners, for deeper community-based learning opportunities.

The Engaged Writing Project: Embedding Community Engagement Preparation Into UVA First Year Writing Courses: $100,000

This project will embed public service competencies into first-year student writing requirement courses. Students will come to understand their development as writers in relation to central challenges of our time, from local to global.

Summer Program for Entrepreneurial Nanoscale Engineering: $100,000

This summer internship experience is created for rising second- and third-year students interested in entrepreneurialism and nanoscale technologies. Interns will participate in research projects directed by UVA’s nanoSTAR faculty—the Institute for Nanoscale and Quantum Scientific and Technological Advanced Research.

Advancing Interdisciplinary Readiness: $96,000

UVA’s Environmental Resilience Institute will generate training for graduate students and faculty interested in interdisciplinary research that can have a positive impact on communities. Participants will gain the skills needed to lead collaborative projects that address rapid environmental change.

Cavalier Autonomous Racing: $50,000

The Cavalier Autonomous Racing Club, under the supervision of UVA faculty, will build, develop, program and race an autonomous electric go-kart. Club activity will culminate in a demonstration at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home of the Indy 500 race.

stARTup Studio: a Business Bootcamp for Creatives: $45,000

This bootcamp will offer a full-day, interactive program for artists at the university and in the community—to help them increase the visibility of and market for their work.

Creating Educational Citizen-Leaders Through Service Learning: $38,437

In partnership with teachers at Charlottesville’s Greer Elementary School, UVA architecture and education students will employ problem-solving processes known as “design thinking” to address student achievement gaps at the elementary school.

The Sixth International Seminar of Young Tibetologists: $32,900

This bilingual conference—offered in both English and Tibetan—will include presentations from early career scholars who are normally isolated from each other across linguistic barriers. The three disparate spheres of Tibetan Studies (Chinese, Tibetan and Euro-American) will interact as a single community.

Breaking the Sound Barrier: Deaf Opera Workshop: $32,000

This performance project will unite the worlds of the Deaf and hearing. Deaf actors from Broadway will join opera singers to work on a new production of Poulenc’s iconic opera of religious persecution, “Dialogues of the Carmelites.” The UVA-based workshop will also be filmed for a documentary.

Strategies of Collecting: Museum Seminar: $15,652

An interdisciplinary group of UVA students will obtain experience researching and proposing objects for acquisition by the Fralin Museum of Art, and will visit leading auction houses, art dealers and galleries in New York.

FLIP at UVA: $14,161

The local chapter of FLIP National (First-Generation, Low-Income Partnership) will align with various university departments to promote programming for and greater inclusivity of first-generation and/or low-income students.

APIDA Student Survey: $6,279

The Asian Student Union will create a survey for all Asian-identifying students at the University of Virginia to ask about their UVA experience. This data will then be shared with university leadership, to better address issues affecting this community.


Hoos First Look students

It can be hard to measure impact that a grant project has on its intended audience, the broader University, or even the projects directors. However, two projects funded by the Jefferson Trust in the past year are already starting to make waves across the University.

Hoos First Look, a 2019 grant recipient, provides 20 low-income, first generation prospective high school juniors with an immersive weekend orientation visit to Grounds, where they learn about the college application and financial aid processes, while getting a glimpse into the University Community and fostering relationships. The program is run by current UVA students, most of whom are first-gen themselves, automatically creating a unique bond among the visiting high-schoolers and UVA students. One participant from the program’s fall 2019 cohort shared, “Hoos First Look allowed me to feel one step closer to reaching my goal of attending the University… this campus visit made me more excited to apply to the University of Virginia. The University remains my No. 1 choice and now, more than ever, I’m going to continue to meet every goal I have for myself and continue to prepare for the application process come senior year.” The impact that it has had on the current UVA students helping to run the program is also great, as current co-chair Joanne Lee shares: “It was so amazing to see how we touched these high schoolers’ lives. I know that I can serve as a mentor for them and help them find these resources.”

Classroom chalkboard with Flux's "7 Slam Commandments"Another program enhancing the UVA student experience is Flux, the University’s only slam poetry group. In fall 2019 they held multiple poetry slams as qualifiers to determine which poets will represent UVA at the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI) in April 2020. Two important dynamics of Flux are audience engagement and creating a safe space; attendees are encouraged to snap, clap, and cheer throughout the poet’s readings, while cultivating an environment where everyone in the room feels respected and heard. A first-year student and participant in the slam commented, “The atmosphere is just incredible…it’s one thing to write a poem … but it’s another thing to perform it for people that are like an incredible community … snapping and cheering.” Another poet shared, “I thought it was really cool that a lot of people brought really personal poems, and I thought it was really cool how open everyone was about their stories.”

For more updates on funded projects and their impact on the University and beyond, visit our Facebook page.

February Flash Funding is Live!

Have a great idea? We fund those.

Have a new or innovative idea that needs funding? Apply for a Flash Funding Grant! Flash Funding seeks to fill the need for shorter-term projects or immediate use, with awards capped at $10,000 per project.

The February Flash Cycle closes on February 29th, with funds awarded on March 15th. March applications open on the 1st and close on the 31st, with funds awarded April 15th.

Visit our Apply page or contact our Grants Administrator to find out more.

Sister, Sister

Caroline and Carson GibsonThe Trust brings people together from around the globe, and across generations. Alumni who graduated 50 years apart, can sit next to one another and discuss a grant proposal; while across the room, classmates who now live on different continents, can reconnect.

Many alumni, and even parents of alumni, consider Charlottesville a second home.  As trustees, they ‘come home’ three times a year for meetings and activities that strengthen relationships, and build new ones.  From college roommates reminiscing, to couples experiencing their philanthropy together, to parents of current students ‘just checking in’ on their first year, the Trust engages donors in many ways – all while giving back to the university they love.

For two sisters, Caroline (College ’15) and Carson Gibson (Commerce ’16), the Trust is an opportunity to experience giving to UVA in their own way, but to do it together. Despite sharing an apartment in Manhattan, the sisters are often worlds apart – literally. Caroline is a Freelance Event Producer in New Zealand, before starting in the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas this fall. Carson is an associate at Kelso & Company, a private equity firm, often working on deals beyond the typical ‘9 to 5’.

Their diversity of skills and perspective is invaluable in reviewing and considering a broad range of grant proposals – a hallmark of the Trust. “Based on our backgrounds, Caroline and I are quite different,” says Carson, “I graduated from the Comm School, and she graduated from the College with a major in Arts Administration; I work in finance, and she has built a career in media & entertainment”. “But I think that those differences make our contributions more valuable. Our diverse skill sets let us ask different questions and contribute more meaningfully based on our own experiences. Never mind that if you meet us, you will surely notice that we look practically the same”!

The sisters joined the Trust on the advice of their cousin, and former trustee, Grace Hobby Grundy (Engineering ’12).  Grace joined the board shortly after graduating, and often shared with her family how much she enjoyed the experience. The Gibson sisters are now forwarding the same message. Caroline loves the Trust “because I get to work with student groups!”, and as Carson puts it, “it’s a great opportunity to stay involved with some of the great ideas and projects that are just starting at UVA!”

And having your sister and best friend by your side makes it even better.

Flash Funding Grant Applications are live!

Have a great idea? We fund those.

Have a new or innovative idea that needs funding? Apply for a Flash Funding Grant! Flash Funding seeks to fill a need for shorter-term projects or immediate use, and awards are capped at $10,000 per project.

January Applications close on the 31st, with funds awarded on February 15th. February applications open on the 1st and close on the 29th, with funds awarded on March 15th.

Visit our Apply page, and plan to attend one of our information sessions on the second floor of Clemons Library in Room 204:

  • Tuesday January 21st @ 11:15am
  • Thursday January 23rd @ 11:15am
  • Tuesday January 28th @ 11:15am
  • Wednesday January 29th @ 5:15pm
  • Wednesday February 5th @ 5:15pm
  • Thursday February 6th @ 11:15am

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