Details for $100,000 of cash and mentoring open now; rolling deadlines

Charlottesville, VA — The eighth annual Tom Tom Festival (April 8–14) will include high-impact competitions that celebrate national creators, changemakers, and entrepreneurs. These entrepreneurial competitions and nonprofit grant nights offer attendees opportunities to interact with the most impactful and ground-breaking ideas in industry and community life. Applications for the contests are live today. To learn more, visit

  • On Friday, April 12, the American Evolution Innovators Cup, a signature event of Virginia’s 2019 Commemoration, will convene the best and brightest entrepreneurial teams from Virginia colleges and universities to pitch their business concepts and compete for cash prizes totaling $60,000. Student teams will engage in two challenges: one focused on social impact, and the other on startup innovation. Finalists will pitch in front of panels of celebrity judges, who will include David Hall, a partner of Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund; and Jason Feifer, Entrepreneur magazine’s editor-in-chief. Applications close Friday, February 22.
  • At the Eighth-Annual Crowdfunded Pitch Night on Thursday, April 11, presented in partnership with Community Investment Collaborative, i.Lab, and HackCville, ten local entrepreneurs will be selected to pitch their ideas to a live audience willing to pledge funds to their favorite contestant. It’s a three-minute opportunity for innovators to share their vision with the community and inspire the crowd to action. Prizes include the crowd pool, a prize pool from CIC and i.Lab, and mentoring by the sponsor organizations. Applications close Friday, March 15.
  • The Third-Annual Cville Gives Grant Night, presented with Posner Wealth Management, will launch Tom Tom on Monday, April 8. Innovative nonprofits addressing 2019’s focus, “food insecurity,” will share their vision with Cville Gives, a philanthropic networking club made up of locals pooling their resources to have a greater impact on the community. Cville Gives will award a cash grant of up to $10,000, and the crowd will also be encouraged to donate. In past years, total grants have exceeded $25,000. Finalists will be announced soon.
  • The BDA Prize, an annual ideas competition presented in partnership with Bushman Dreyfus Architects, champions and promotes design, dialogue, and engagement to better the community. The 2019 theme, “Invisible C’Ville,” calls for imaginative and provocative works on paper which communicate invisible qualities, systems, and stories that are central to Charlottesville’s identity. Contestants will compete for one of eight unranked $1,000 prizes. The exhibition opens Friday, March 1, and public voting, a panel discussion, and an awards program will take place on Wednesday, April 10 at Tom Tom. Submissions will be accepted until Monday, February 11.
  • New to Tom Tom in 2019, the Ready.Set Competition, presented with Victory Hall Opera and VMDO Architects, is an international modular set design contest challenging designers to create innovative and affordable mobile stage sets. The top creator at this challenge will take home a grand prize of $2,500 and have the chance to have their set constructed and featured in VHO productions. Public judging by an all-star jury of theater and design leaders will accompany an exhibition on Thursday, April 11.  Submissions will be accepted from Thursday, January 31 through Sunday, March 31.

The competitions listed above are free and open to the public.

The 2019 Tom Tom Festival is open to the press. Media wishing to request more information should respond directly to this email or contact the Tom Tom Festival’s Communications Associate, Caroline Hockenbury (



The Tom Tom Foundation is a nonprofit organization that champions entrepreneurship, creativity, and innovation in America’s small cities. Tom Tom’s flagship event is a weeklong festival that takes place in conjunction with Thomas Jefferson’s birthday each April. The Festival welcomed over 20,000 attendees to Charlottesville, VA in 2018 and has channeled nearly $3.1 million to new ventures since its inception in 2012. Learn more about Tom Tom and its mission at


Tom Tom’s founding partners include American Evolution and the University of Virginia, alongside key partners such as the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the Quantitative Foundation, New Belgium Brewing, Community Ideas Station, and the Virginia Tourism Corporation.