Grants in News

Starr Hill Pathways scholars listen to University professors and students. Photo: Erin Edgerton

Many grant projects have been busy over the summer! From conducting field tests to hosting seminars, to preparing for future events, check out some incredible Jefferson Trust projects highlighted in the news:

An initiative from the UVA Equity Center and a 2022 annual grant recipient, Starr Hill Pathways brought middle-school students to Grounds for a three-week program to learn about the college experience and engage with a university. Check out their experiences in this UVA Today article, CBS19 feature, and Daily Progress article.

A 2022 flash grant recipient, “Chaos to Chaos: Documenting Afghan Women,” was recently highlighted on CBS19 News for their work to build community and share the stories of Afghan women in the local community.

The Roadmap Scholars Initiative hosted their first summer program, helping first-gen, low-income undergraduates prepare for and apply to elite law schools. Learn more about the scholars in this UVA Law article.

The UVA Solar Car team raced a custom solar-powered electric vehicle at the Formula Sun Grand Prix in Topeka, Kansas this summer. Learn about their preparations and building their car since receiving a Trust grant in 2017 in this Cav Daily article.

Since their 2018 grant, read about the growth and impact of Hoos Connected in this UVA Today feature. The grant funds a one-credit class lasting a single semester that teaches healthy relationship-building skills in small groups of first-year, second-year and transfer students.

“Madayin: Eight Decades of Aboriginal Australian Bark Painting from Yirrkala” is the first major exhibition of Aboriginal Australian bark paintings to tour the U.S. It opens in September 2022 at the Hood Museum. Kluge-Ruhe received a Trust grant in 2019 to help produce the accompanying catalog, a 352-page piece in both Yolngu Matha and English (which is the first ever international touring exhibition catalog in an Australian language). Read more about the significance of this exhibition.

The “Transformative Autism Biomarker Research Initiative” in UVA’s Developmental Neuroanalytics Lab was spotlighted in National Geographic’s June 2022 issue. A 2020 grant recipient, the lab is developing new universal screening protocols for social processing disorders.

Hoos Connected: from Pilot to Full-scale Program

Hoos Connected

Hoos Connected is a University-wide campaign created to help UVA students build cohesive and supportive peer connections. The relationship-building is fostered by students meeting in small groups over the course of 12 weeks. It includes discussing and evaluating barriers to connection, establishing trust, and recognizing shared human experiences. Hoos Connected encourages creativity by asking students to step outside their comfort zone and engage honestly with others who are different from themselves. The program extends beyond the concept of “safe spaces” and creates brave spaces where students can learn to negotiate difference and more candidly share experiences of challenge and hope.

Dr. Nicole Ruzek and Dr. Joseph Allen received funding from the Trust in 2018 to help launch the program, which included bringing guest speakers to Grounds, aiding in marketing outreach efforts, and bringing on graduate assistants and student workers to help in the program launch and accompanying research. In its first semester, the program started as a cohort of 35 first-year students participating in 4 small groups. Impact was felt immediately and continues to grow each semester. The program’s success has also established the need to offer the program to transfer students and in the residential colleges.

With its proof of concept and early successes, Hoos Connected received additional funding from the Office of Student Affairs in early 2020 to expand staffing and capacity and a grant from the President &x Provost’s fund to further the program. “Both of these grants were leveraged based on the existing work funded by the Jefferson Trust; hence the Trust was instrumental in bringing in this higher level of funding and in dramatically expanding the scope of work being performed,” shared Ruzek. This funding will help scale the low-cost, high-impact program to the wider student body, reducing the issues students face surrounding mental health and social pressures.

Hoos Connected is just one of several projects funded by the Trust that have gone on to receive additional and sustaining grants from the President’s or Provost’s Offices. Ignite, USOAR and the Arts Mentors Program are other initiatives that have continued to grow and expand due to additional funding sources on Grounds, becoming an integral part of the UVA student experience and enhancing the University community.

The trustees eagerly await the next great idea.