The Jefferson Trust held an award ceremony Friday in Pavilion III, honoring and granting money to organizations and efforts in the Charlottesville area that have worked to better and uphold the University community. The group will give grants in 2015 totaling over $630,000 to at least 14 initiatives.At the Friday event, a series of speakers spoke to the importance of the Jefferson Trust. Steve Smiley, chair of the Alumni Association Board of Visitors, said it serves to challenge members of the community to better the University. “The Jefferson Trust Board of Trustees, supported by the Alumni Association’s Board of Managers, challenges students, faculty and organizations to request funding for new initiatives that will enhance the University of Virginia as a pre-eminent, global institution of higher learning,” he said. Jefferson Trust Grant Administrator Amy Bonner, said there are a number of factors in deciding exactly to whom and how much the trust grants. The extent of funding, she said, can vary greatly depending on need.“Grant funding amounts are decided by several factors: amount requested, total amount available to fund in each year, total pool of proposals, and strength of individual proposals,” Bonner said in an email. “Grant awards from the Jefferson Trust have ranged from $2,500 to $100,000, with an average grant size of $39,400.”Bonner said University administrators were consulted during the grant review process. “As part of the grant review process, information about top proposals under consideration are shared with the president, provost and COO [chief operating officer] of the University, and their comments are taken into consideration,” Bonner said. One organization the Jefferson Trust recognized was the Teaching Resource Center’s Ignite, which received $49,760. Having received $10,000 more than the average grant, Dorothe Bach, the Ignite project director at the Teaching Resource Center, said she is very excited about what the financial support will allow.“With support from the Jefferson Trust grant, the Teaching Resource Center is thrilled to launch its newest program, Ignite,” Bach said in a statement. “Ignite capitalizes on the historic turnover of U.Va. faculty by preparing the next generation of professors to create superb academic learning experiences for their students.”Over the past nine years, the Jefferson Trust has funded 123 other grants, the result of an endowment Smiley said he hopes will grow over the next five years.“Currently, the Jefferson Trust has over $23 million in assets, and we hope to increase that endowment over the next five years, allowing the trust to provide at least one million dollars or more in grants each year,” Smiley said.Jefferson Trust Executive Director Wayne Cozart said this financial success would not have been possible without the help of generous alumni who made it possible. He thanked all those active in the trust and discussed the importance of the Jefferson Trust now and in the future.“University of Virginia alumni want their University to be strong, world-renowned and cutting-edge and in every respect a recognized leader in education, teaching and research,” Cozart said. “It is with 14 grants that the Jefferson Trust is about to disclose today on these recipients here, that the Trust believes that it can and will create that bold example for the future.” Source: NBC 29 Mark Pinho, chair of the Jefferson Trust Board of Trustees, said the purpose of the trust is to accomplish just that, while at the same time supporting a diverse and ever-growing scope of endeavors.“What we do is provide grants to students, faculty, alumni, and other friends of the school as they try to go out into new ventures at the University and we hope to be the catalyst of support for those ventures,” Pinho said. “The unrestricted nature of the endowment allows us to support a wide variety of programs — programs that enhance teaching and scholarship and research.”Pinho said nearly five million dollars have been granted over the past nine years, funding projects from Pavilion seminars to individual student projects.“Over the past nine years the Jefferson Trust has awarded over $4.8 million for 123 projects,” Pinho said. “There’s no restrictions on how we use our capital. What we care about is: is this going to make a difference in the University continuum? And is it something that’s going to be ultimately sustainable? If we think it meets those two criteria, we want to support it with capital and with alumni support.”A full list of funded projects can be found here.