New Jefferson Trust Grants Provide Margin of Excellence

April 10, 2007 -- Nursing and medical students seeking to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in southern Africa, law students working in public service and Virginia schoolchildren are among the beneficiaries of five grants totaling $325,000 that the Jefferson Trust will announce on Founder’s Day — on which the University of Virginia celebrates Thomas Jefferson’s April 13 birthday — at 4 p.m. on the steps of the Rotunda. Other grants will encourage alumni giving to the University and further one of the most ambitious building projects in U.Va. history.

The Jefferson Trust, administered by the University of Virginia Alumni Association, has a simple aim: to provide the margin of excellence at the University. The 2007 spring recipients are:
-- The Mbeya Program, a project initiated by students in the School of Nursing’s Clinical Nurse Leader program to help prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in Lesotho. Backed by a $50,000 grant from the trust, a team of nine graduate nursing students, four medical students and a faculty member will travel to the impoverished African nation this summer, where nearly one in three citizens is infected with HIV/AIDS, to initiate a sustainable public health program.

-- The Public Interest Law Association, which last year made grants that allowed 59 law students to pursue summer public-interest legal work from Charlottesville to California, Bosnia and Uganda. PILA turned away 13 additional applicants last year; the trust’s $50,000 gift will provide an additional 10 to 12 Jefferson Trust PILA Fellowships. The grants aid students who turn down potentially more lucrative summer internship opportunities to pursue public-service law.

-- The University of Virginia Art Museum, which plans to produce multiple video projects based on a 2005 exhibit, “A Jefferson Ideal: Selections from the Dr. and Mrs. Henry C. Landon III Collection of American Fine and Decorative Arts.” The $50,000 grant will help the museum produce a documentary suitable for broadcast on public television, as well as an educational video for use in Virginia schools in support of Standards of Learning in American history and culture.

-- The College of Arts & Sciences’ South Lawn Project, an anticipated complex of buildings and landscapes that will extend the axis of Thomas Jefferson’s original Lawn across Jefferson Park Avenue. The trust’s $150,000 grant will support the project and the communal atmosphere that typifies U.Va.’s student experience.

-- The Barber Challenge, issued by Tiki and Ronde Barber to spur alumni giving. The Barbers, 1997 graduates of U.Va.’s McIntire School of Commerce who have gone on to successful careers in professional football, pledged $500,000 if the University’s undergraduate schools raise their alumni-giving participation rates by 25 percent over next five years beginning in 2008. The trust’s $25,000 grant will go toward marketing the challenge to alumni and current students.

About the Jefferson Trust

The U.Va. Alumni Association’s Board of Managers established the Jefferson Trust in 2004 with the goal of providing an unrestricted endowment dedicated to pursuing excellence throughout the University, says Michael Clarke (Col ’84), the trust’s executive director. The fund’s major donors — those giving $100,000 or more — are offered membership on the board of trustees, which allocates the funds.

The trust announced its first round of grants, totaling $150,000, at the public launch of the University’s $3 billion capital campaign in September. Going forward, the trust plans to announce its major round of grants each year around the Founder’s Day observance, and a smaller round of grants each fall.

The trust’s goal is to raise a $10 million endowment, which would allow annual grants of approximately $500,000. It currently has assets of approximately $3.5 million.