Funding University Priorities — Entrepreneurship

Students participate in the BEES Black Student Business Expo.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.