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Tom Tom Founders Festival

TomTom Founders Festival Tom Tom celebrates and empowers the founders of creative, civic, and entrepreneurial projects. Each April over Thomas Jefferson’s birthday week (April 13), Charlottesville’s historic downtown is reimagined as a creative canvas. Tom Tom explores diverse disciplines—society, education, energy, food, and technology—and links the rich history of the City with an exploration into the future.

The Jefferson Trust

Thanks to support from The Jefferson Trust, an initiative of the UVA Alumni Association, OpenGrounds was able to develop Changing Views, a series of programs and events, including the pilot of the Student Scholars program, surrounding the "Ansel Adams: A Legacy and Looking at the New West" exhibitions at The Fralin Museum of Art in 2013.

UVA Parents Committee

The UVA Parents Committee has provided generous support for the pilot of the OpenGrounds Innovation Leadership Forum series.

Diplomacy Lab

The University of Virginia and the State Department partnered in a national pilot program to help address what State has called "the extraordinary proliferation of complex challenges" facing U.S. diplomats in the 21st century. The goal of Diplomacy Lab is to create opportunities for faculty and globally-minded students to participate together on research projects with the potential for immediate impact on foreign-policy thinking and decision-making. The Diplomacy Lab is now being led by UVA's Center for Global Inquiry and Innovation. 

Science, Art, Design

The Philips Collection

The Phillips Collection and University of Virginia initiated a partnership in 2010 as a transferable exemplar of collaboration among talent from diverse disciplines, enabled by the world class resource of The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. Creativity and innovation are at the heart of human curiosity and expression and hold the keys to addressing significant societal issues. Recognizing that connections between science and art are important building blocks of our future, it is our hope that the impact of this collaboration between higher education and the learning community of the museum will set the stage for the birth of new ideas.

Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities (a2ru)

OpenGrounds is a founding member of The Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities (a2ru), a national network interested in the infusion of arts and design practices across the disciplines. This network seeks to transform research universities and to equip students and faculty to address the world's most pressing, complex, and open-ended challenges with creative confidence as well as disciplinary expertise. a2ru facilitates and advocates for such a transformation by providing advocacy, the strength of a national network of leading research universities, and a new body of research and best practices to enable research university leaders to knowledgeably integrate arts practices for the greatest benefits of their institutions.

Global Water Games

The Global Water Games Initiative is a collaboration between UVA and Azure Worldwide, a strategic environmental design, development and marketing company co-founded by Cousteau and Snowhite. The Nature Conservancy is the leading conservation organization working to protect the most ecologically important lands and waters.


WillowTree, Inc.

WillowTree, Inc. is an America mobile application design and development company headquartered in Charlottesville, VA. WillowTree creates stable, efficient and flexible applications across all software platforms for companies ranging from startups to Fortune 500.


Vonage, a leading telecommunications firm, sponsored the inaugural OpenGrounds Challenge in Fall 2012. The Challenge asked students to imagine the next evolution of social messaging. Interactive sessions included full audience participation and interdisciplinary design laboratories.

Hearst Business Media

The partnership with Hearst Business Media began with a Design Gathering, bringing Hearst executives together with UVA Faculty to work creatively on challenges ranging from telemedicine and medical records to health access and communications. Faculty from architecture, the sciences, engineering and nursing collaborated with the Hearst Business Media leadership to develop techniques for diagramming ideas, participate in role modeling simulations, and brainstorm.

In addition to stimulating ideas that led immediately to new initiatives at both Hearst and UVA, the collaboration laid the foundation for an OpenGrounds Challenge in Fall 2013, which asked students to propose new ideas about how we can help people to make better choices about their health.