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.