Tom Tom Foundation

The Tom Tom Foundation is a nonprofit that hosts the annual Founders Festival over Jefferson’s birthday week each April, and convenes leadership events throughout the year that celebrate entrepreneurship, creativity, and community building in Charlottesville and beyond.

Some frequently asked questions…

Why does Tom Tom exist?

Tom Tom is a nonprofit whose mission is to celebrate and empower 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, with dozens of venues participating. Like the founding polymath, 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. Ultimately, the festival seeks to leave lasting legacies of creativity throughout Charlottesville through public art and business formation.

What does the name mean?

“Tom Tom” is a friendly nod toward Thomas Jefferson, author of The Declaration of Independence, founder of the University of Virginia, architect of Monticello, and Third President of the United States. Jefferson was a visionary farmer, winemaker, art patron, and inventor. Tom Tom connects Jefferson’s revolutionary legacy with the difficult and visionary work of founders today.

What’s with the buffalo?

The buffalo is a symbol of the frontier. Lewis and Clark returned from their exploration of the American West with a buffalo hide displaying Native American painting and cartography. Thomas Jefferson sponsored their historic journey, and this hide now hangs in the foyer of Jefferson’s home Monticello, as a reminder of the value of American risk-taking.

Why is Tom Tom free?

Tom Tom’s strength is that it brings people with diverse perspectives and passions together. Keeping the majority of the Festival’s events free makes that possible. Everyone is welcome to participate, be inspired, and have fun at Tom Tom.

Who runs Tom Tom?

Tom Tom staff includes a mix of full, parttime, freelance, and volunteer professionals in marketing, production, programming, design, and other fields. The festival’s director, Paul Beyer, is also the Founder of Tom Tom. Tom Tom’s programming and strategic choices are made with the input of its board. Finally, Tom Tom would be completely impossible without the time and energy of the nearly 200 individuals who volunteer at the Festival each year.

Complete list of Staff & Board.

America’s Founding City

Charlottesville’s rich history of Founding sparks the work of contemporary innovators who are shaping the future. Each April in Jefferson’s birthday week, the historic downtown becomes a creative canvas as dozens of venues model the Founding polymath’s passion for society, education, commerce, culture, food, and technology.


Inspiring and empowering local creators to reimagine their City

Branding the Commonwealth for creativity and innovation

Drawing far-reaching attention to Charlottesville and modeling how small cities thrive