Thrive Grants

Supporting a culture of pedagogical innovation


Funded by the Office of the Provost and administered by the Center for Teaching Excellence, Thrive grants are available to UVA and UVA Wise instructors who wish to innovate their undergraduate courses. 


All proposed pedagogical innovations–defined broadly as adaptations of commonly employed teaching practices or activities or distinctly new, creative ones–centered on undergraduate courses will be considered. Innovations can be localized at the individual instructor-level, within a program, or across the institution. Innovations can be new or novel to the respective instructor or program even if not to the larger pedagogical community: innovation with a lower-case "i." They also can be uniquely new or novel in broader higher education contexts: innovation with an upper-case "I." All innovations must have clear potential to increase one or more of the following intended outcomes: educational equity, student retention or persistence, sense of belonging, learning or engagement, or instructor engagement or efficiency. (Read more about each intended outcome in the Definitions section below.)

While innovations involving generative artificial intelligence (AI) are encouraged, proposals centered on this topic should address how students’ privacy and academic work will be protected and describe how equitable access to the tools will be ensured.


The following definitions are intended to help characterize pedagogical innovations. During the application process, applicants will be asked to self-identify outcomes and impact anticipated from the proposed grant activities.

Educational Equity

The innovation is expected to increase educational equity in terms of access, opportunities, support, or tools. In other words, the innovation better ensures every student, regardless of their background, language, race, economic profile, gender, learning capability, disability or family history, receive the support and resources they need to achieve their educational goals.

Student Retention or Resistance

The innovation is expected to increase student retention, persistence, and/or completion rates and/or decrease drop, withdrawal, or failure (DWF) rates, especially but not exclusively for traditionally underserved or minoritized students, including Black and Indigenous students and other students of color, students with disabilities, LGBTQIA+ students, and first-generation college students.

Student Sense of Belonging

The innovation is expected to increase students' sense of belonging at UVA, in their major, or in their courses. Sense of belonging in a college setting "refers to students' perceived social support on campus, a feeling or sensation of connectedness, the experience of mattering or feeling cared about, accepted, respected, valued by, and important to the group or others on campus."1

1 Strayhorn, T. L. (2019). College students' sense of belonging: A key to educational success for all students (2nd ed). New York: Taylor & Francis.

Student Learning

The innovation is expected to increase students' cognitive, procedural, affective, metacognitive, or meta-emotional awareness, abilities, or skills.

Student Engagement

The innovation is expected to increase students' behavioral, emotional, or cognitive engagement in the learning process. Engagement is "characterized by curiosity, participation, and the drive to learn more."2

2 Abla, C., & Fraumeni, B. R. (2019). Student engagement: Evidence-based strategies to boost academic and social-emotional results. McREL International.

Instructor Engagement

The innovation is expected to increase instructors' behavioral, emotional, or cognitive engagement in the teaching process.

Instructor Efficiency

The innovation is expected to increase instructors' efficiency, either in the short or long term, related to the design of instructional materials or activities, assessment of student learning, grading of learning artifacts, communication with students or the support of their learning while retaining quality.

More about program eligibility and funding information.

More about applying for a Thrive grant.

List of the program's most commonly asked questions.

List of grant recipients from 2023 onward.

List of grant recipients from 2019 to 2020.

Michael Palmer's headshot'

Michael Palmer

he/him Barbara Fried Director & Professor