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Trustees donate $600,000 to the Jefferson Trust Endowment

U.Va. endowment to support initiatives that embody Jeffersonian ideals

<p>The Jefferson Trust, founded by the Alumni Association, funds various projects on Grounds.</p>

The Jefferson Trust, founded by the Alumni Association, funds various projects on Grounds.

Two trustees of the Jefferson Trust Foundation recently committed $600,000 to the Jefferson Trust Endowment to fund University-wide projects in the coming years. 

Dan Adler and Larry Sperling are alumni of the Engineering School and the College, respectively. Currently living and working in Singapore, Sperling made a leadership gift worth of $100,000 earlier this year to benefit the Global Initiatives Fund. Adler’s $500,000 gift created the Adler Jefferson Trust Endowment for student grants.

Part of the University Alumni Association, the Jefferson Trust has financially supported projects directed by students, faculty and staff in the past 11 years.

According to its website, “the Trust measures the success of a grant by its ability to encourage creativity, innovation and leadership, and ultimately by whether it enhances the University and/or the student experience.”

Adib Choudhury, a third-year Commerce student and intern at the Jefferson Trust, said $5.5 million worth of funding has been given out in the history of the program.

“Last year alone we were able to give out a total of $777,000 to support projects in the arts, historical archiving, 3D-bioprinting, computer science, medical research and entrepreneurship,” Choudhury said in an email statement.

Kaye Forsman, senior director of development for the Jefferson Trust, said in an email statement that this year’s funding amount is yet to be determined, but the trustee board hopes it is higher than the previous year.

The trust has funded 141 projects, with recipients consisting of a variety of programs and opportunities the University offers.

“In the past, we have helped get new student organizations started, including the Charlottesville Debate League and Greens to Grounds. In 2015, we funded a documentary called Monroe Hill that was a collaboration between faculty and students living at Brown College,” Choudhury said. “Several of our programs have been academically-oriented, such as the new Human-Centered Design curriculum of the Medical School and the new Kinesiology Teaching Lab in the Curry School.”

Choudhury said 18 grants were awarded in 2016, more than the 14 in 2015 but fewer than the 22 in 2014.

“Trustees look for projects that will enhance the University and/or the student experience. This could mean improvements in curriculum, advancement of new opportunities across Grounds, or pushing the caliber of our faculty and student research efforts,” Choudhury said.

Amy Bonner, grant administrator for the trust, said the trustee board generally receives more proposals than it can afford with the available funding.

“Each year, we receive a large pool of proposals totalling around $3.5 to $4 million in requests. We do our best to ensure that we have as broad an impact as possible, which means some projects are awarded only a portion of their request amount,” Bonner said in email statement.

Sperling’s commitment helped establish the Jefferson Trust Global Initiatives Fund, which specifically supports new programs and research around the world, Choudhury said.

Choudhury said Adler hoped students could be involved in the rigorous process — from proposing an idea to experimenting with it.

Hoping to “accelerate the number and quality of student project proposals in the future,” Adler established the Adler Jefferson Trust Endowment, Choudhury said.

The Jefferson Trust is accepting applications until Sept. 30, and awarded projects will be announced in April 2017.

Correction: The article previously stated incorrectly that the donations would be available for the 2016-2017 school year.