Please excuse us for paraphrasing New Jersey’s tourism slogan for the title of this piece, but it really does fit so well, almost as well as American Mensa (AML) and the Foundation fit together. American Mensa’s current mission statement is “Identify and foster human intelligence for the benefit of humanity by encouraging research in the nature, characteristics and uses of intelligence and by providing a stimulating intellectual and social environment for its members.” Although American Mensa was founded in 1965, it wasn’t until 1971 that the organization did anything much outside the “providing” part of the current mission statement. It was that year that AML’s board, the AMC, decided to start a separate entity, the Mensa Education and Research Foundation, to start seriously addressing the other parts of that statement.
So how do the two organizations fit together so well? AML’s board appoints the Foundation board from people the Foundation nominates. This creates the unique situation of the tenant appointing its landlord, given that the building that houses the National Office is owned by the Foundation. AML has a friendly landlord, and the Foundation has a trustworthy, responsible tenant, a win for both. In addition, the AML Chair (or his or her proxy) is an ex-officio member of the Foundation Board, while the Director of Science and Education on the AMC is selected by the Foundation. So there is always two-way communication between the two entities.
Most Mensans are quite familiar with the intellectual and social aspects of Mensa locally, regionally, nationally and perhaps even internationally, but they may not be as familiar with the work of the Foundation and how it complements what Mensa does. American Mensa produces the Bulletin, local chapter events and regional and annual gatherings and handles such things as SIGs, websites, and Facebook and Twitter presences, all of which aid members in enjoying the social aspects of their membership.
The Foundation produces Colloquiums and the Mensa Research Journal, awards scholarships, recognizes research, awards super teachers, and rewards intellectual benefits to society. It also supports gifted children with programs, enewsletters and MensaForKids.org, produces podcasts, aids teachers and parents in educating children, and helps fund local group programs approved by AML.
The role of AML and the Foundation is both social and societal. Both organizations have a responsibility to AML members to fulfill the mission as set forth in the international constitution. This mission is a central part of the strategic plans for both organizations. Jointly, we are working together to serve society, our current members and the Mensans we’ll meet in the future.
Mensans dues mostly support American Mensa and a small portion goes to support Mensa International with only $1 per member going to the Foundation annually. The Foundation stretches that dollar as far as it can but to fully accomplish its mission it needs donations from Mensa’s members. Please consider aiding the Foundation in its work. My Mensa, My Foundation.