The story of the Jefferson Scholars Foundation and its 40-year history of attracting outstanding talent to the University of Virginia cannot be told without also telling the stories of the thousands of alumni and friends who have invested in the Foundation’s mission through private support.

There are many reasons people choose to extend their support. Some appreciate the Foundation’s core focus on excellence and its reputation for outstanding stewardship and fiscal responsibility. Others view supporting the Foundation as a unique way to raise the University’s profile in their own hometowns, as well as across the Foundation’s 63 regions. Still others see it as a combination of all of that, plus the opportunity to build a strong and meaningful lifeline to the University through the Scholars and Fellows they help support. 

In October 2019, the Foundation announced a $100 million gift from David and Jane Walentas, the largest gift in University of Virginia history devoted entirely to the endowment of scholarships, fellowships, and professorships.

The bulk of the gift — $75 million — is committed to scholarships and fellowships for first-generation students, with the remaining $25 million dedicated to fellowships and professorships through the Jefferson Scholars Foundation and Darden School of Business.

Thanks to the generosity of the Foundation’s benefactors and its ever-growing volunteer base, today nominations for the Jefferson Scholarship pour in from 63 regions across all corners of the country and globe.

Both benefactors and volunteers play a key role in helping the Foundation launch a new region by raising funds needed to support Scholars from a particular geographic area, as well as by serving on Regional Selection Committees.


David and Jane Walentas

A transformational gift for UVA — $100 million to benefit first-generation students

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The Jefferson Scholarship is the premier undergraduate scholarship at the University of Virginia. Scholars are selected through a rigorous selection process that is based on exceptional performance in the areas of leadership, scholarship and citizenship.

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The Jefferson Fellowship is the premier graduate fellowship offered at the University of Virginia. Based solely on merit, the Fellowship seeks to attract Ph.D. and M.B.A. candidates.

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