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Billionaire Gifts $100Mln to Create Scholarship at University of Virginia

Billionaire real estate developer David Walentas has donated $100 million to set up a scholarship program to make the University of Virginia affordable.

The gift announced by the Jefferson Scholars Foundation will fund scholarships and fellowships for first-generation students from the Commonwealth of Virginia, from Rochester, New York, where Walentas grew up, and from New York City, where he made his fortune.

The university will divert a part of the gift in establishing professorships and fellowships through the Jefferson Scholars Foundation and Darden School of Business.

“This gift will have a profound and lasting impact on first-generation college students,” said Jimmy Wright, president of the Jefferson Scholars Foundation.

While President Jim Ryan said, “This gift from David Walentas will serve as a cornerstone of the $5 billion campaign we are launching this weekend and will have an enduring impact on the University of Virginia and on those who attend it.”


The Foundation is planning to enroll at least 60 first-generation students for the merit-based scholarship that will cover the entire cost of attending the college. The students must show strong leadership potential along with an excellent academic track record.

Earlier this year, the university started “A Great and Good University – the 2030 Plan,” which includes 10 key initiatives to strengthen the university’s foundation and cultivate the most vibrant community in higher education.

It includes making the cost of college accessible and affordable by starting the SuccessUVA program that will extend financial aid to more low- and middle-income, first-generation and underrepresented students.

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