Celebrating entrepreneurship, culture, and innovation in Charlottesville and inspiring small city excellence everywhere.
Inspiring the next generation of Founders
The Tom Tom Foundation is a nonprofit organization that celebrates entrepreneurs, civic leaders, and creators who are shaping cities and communities across the nation. Tom Tom’s signature event is a weeklong festival of ideas and culture that takes place in Charlottesville, Virginia, each April in conjunction with Thomas Jefferson’s birthday. This cross discipline, multi-venue experience transforms the historic downtown and empowers the innovators, who are envisioning a brighter future.
Since its inception in 2012, the Foundation’s Spring and Fall programming has showcased over 740 speakers and 330 bands to 186,000 program attendees, and has channeled $2.9 million to new ventures and projects.
ANNUAL PROGRAM FOR THOUGHT LEADERSHIP AND COMMUNITY BUILDING
As the Foundation has grown, new initiatives have been added like the Fall Festival and Founding Cville Project, as well as signature public art projects and leadership convenings throughout the year.
The festival’s founder and director, Paul Beyer, alongside dedicated staff and volunteers, run the Festival and Foundation.
The Tom Tom Foundation is a nonprofit organization that celebrates entrepreneurs, civic leaders, and creators who are shaping cities and communities across the nation. Tom Tom’s signature event is a weeklong festival of ideas and culture that takes place in Charlottesville, Virginia, each April in conjunction with Thomas Jefferson’s birthday. This cross discipline, multi-venue experience transforms the historic downtown and empowers the innovators, creators, and entrepreneurs who are envisioning a brighter future.
Since its inception in 2012, the Festival has featured over 700 speakers, 280+ bands, and has channeled $2.8 million to new ventures and projects.
As the Foundation has grown, new initiatives have been added, including the Fall Tomtoberfest Block Party and Founding CVille Project, as well as signature public art projects and thought-leader convenings throughout the year.
The Foundation leadership is composed of its founder and director, Paul Beyer, dedicated staff and volunteers, and its Advisory and Fiduciary Boards.
100+ of the region’s hottest firms and most innovative companies mix with investors, entrepreneurs, and top talent from across the region.
Since 2012, over 172,000 attendees have experienced music, art, innovation, and food programming at Tom Tom.
We recognize the work of local founders and engage with national creators and innovators.
We highlight the intersections of art, commerce, and civic leadership and inspire the next generation.
We are community led. Each year over 400 organizations and 300 volunteers make Tom Tom happen.
We connect resources. Over $2,800,000 of grants, awards and investment facilitated.
We leave lasting legacies of creativity that transform public spaces through our City as Canvas project.
We produce creative stages. Over 350 bands, 700 speakers, and dozens of artists and installations have brought the entire community together.
We help inspire an identity for the region that is creative, entrepreneurial and focused on the future.
America’s Founding City
Charlottesville is known for its history– for Thomas Jefferson, the founding fathers and as a birthplace of democracy and higher education. The idea of revolutionary founding is in the very fabric of the City. The Tom Tom Foundation exists to inspire a future for Charlottesville that sparks a new generation of Founders and contemporary innovators, who shape the future of Charlottesville, and the nation.
Where did the name come from?
We choose to be a Founders Festival because our events celebrate, support, and inspire founders of all different disciplines. There is a unique storytelling opportunity in highlighting the origin of the ideas and organizations which shape our society, and spurring the next generation of entrepreneurs, artists and leaders.
It’s called Tom Tom, because we’re located in Charlottesville, Virginia, the home of Thomas Jefferson. “Tom Tom” is a cheeky nod to evoke his innovative spirit without sending the festival into powdered wig territory. Jefferson is the author of The Declaration of Independence, founder of the University of Virginia, architect of Monticello, and Third President of the United States. Jefferson excelled (or at least tried his hand) in a variety of fields: philosopher, lawyer, diplomat, farmer, winemaker, architect, and inventor. This multi-faceted legacy still inspires founders in Charlottesville and across the world.
Solely and uncritically lauding Jefferson as an innovator, though, is inadequate. It is impossible to reconcile his ideals with many of his actions. He was a slave owner and participated in a dehumanizing system whose impacts continue to this day.
As imperfectly realized as the vision that “all men are created equal” was in Jefferson’s day, it is one that should be manifested in our communities, our businesses and civic institutions. Tom Tom’s exploration of inclusive innovation, our celebration of purpose driven founding, and our focus on a more equitable society, are all threads in this ongoing conversation about Charlottesville’s founder.
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. As President, Jefferson had sponsored this historic journey, and this hide still hangs in the foyer of Monticello as a reminder of the value of American risk-taking.
As with Jefferson himself, the buffalo is both an inspirational symbol of the future and a point that necessitates reflection. Westward expansion was not done without considerable injustice to native peoples, and the buffalo almost became extinct.
The uncharted frontiers are cause for excitement, but they are also a challenge: we must do better this time.