A Foundation for Giving Back

Mensa Foundation TrusteeUpon receiving the congratulatory letter from American Mensa, I didn’t peruse its accompanying new member folder, replete with inserts about the Annual Gathering, info sheets on hotel discounts, and other orientation materials. Who did? (Okay, maybe you did.) At most, my eyes passed over the words “Mensa Education & Research Foundation,” on a brochure detailing the Foundation’s efforts.

Even as a card-carrying member of Mensa, I was completely unaware of the Mensa Foundation. If any of the Gen Y Mensans I was getting acquainted with then knew about the now 47-year-old philanthropic nonprofit organization, no one said so. In fact, a recent highly informal Facebook survey of Mensa’s Gen Y contingent demonstrated that, while a majority of us are aware of the Mensa Foundation, few have heard about what the Foundation does. I expect this lack of awareness transcends age.

Although I’ve been involved in Mensa Foundation work for several years, I didn’t expect I would eventually be welcomed to its board of trustees. My introduction to the Foundation was as a scholarship judge, which entailed spending a full Saturday in my apartment, reading and scoring essay submissions under my cat’s scrutiny.

Each season more than 90 Mensa Local Groups, along with almost 500 volunteers, participate in the promotion and administration of the Foundation’s scholarship program. Membership in American Mensa had put me in the company of so many altruistic individuals who routinely donate their time to the Foundation. As most scholarship judges and chairs will tell you, it’s gratifying to have a part in helping deserving students, Mensa members and non-members alike, pursue their educational goals.

I was eager to contribute more to the Foundation’s work, so I was honored and delighted to join its board. Some members contribute in other ways, even making sizeable donations that endow scholarships.

I support the Foundation because the educators, researchers, and inventors who are our advocates deserve to be recognized and thanked.

In addition to the scholarship program, the Mensa Foundation supports programs for gifted youth and resources for their parents and educators; the Mensa Research Journal, which highlights scholarly articles related to intelligence; educational outreach; and awards to educators, researchers, innovators, and others who work in the area of human intelligence. The list of programs is substantial, and we’ll continue to add to it, expanding internationally and developing new programs. The Foundation’s mission-driven initiatives enable American Mensa to benefit society by empowering intellectually gifted people.

As a Gen Y Mensan whose life is now crowded with other priorities, why do I dedicate my personal resources to supporting the Foundation?

I support the Mensa Foundation because when I was a college student and then a graduate student, I wasn’t aware of the Foundation’s scholarships. If you’d told me then about the essay-based awards, I would’ve been full to the brim with gratitude. The opportunity to be awarded a $1,000 scholarship would’ve meant a lot. It helps me to know, now that I’m clued in, that I’m spreading the word to students who might otherwise be unaware of the opportunities afforded by the scholarship program.

I support the Foundation because, as a second-generation Mensa member who’s married to a Mensan and hopes to have children in Mensa one day, I want to ensure a supportive environment for the bright young minds that seek acceptance and deserve to be celebrated. Too often, gifted youth are unidentified or underserved in their early years, to everyone’s detriment.

I support the Foundation because the educators, researchers, and inventors who are our advocates deserve to be recognized and thanked.

As a member of American Mensa, you have opportunities to support the Mensa Foundation too. Whether you donate money, volunteer time to judge scholarship essays, support the Foundation when you make purchases on Amazon through AmazonSmile, or just help spread the word about the Foundation’s programs, your contributions will be appreciated by your fellow Mensans and by the people whose lives are touched through the Foundation’s programs.