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Distinguished Donor Communities

Mercury 7 Society

By making a planned gift, you can make a significant contribution towards supporting some of the nation’s most exceptional STEM students who are addressing some of the world’s critical issues. The student’s achievements range from cutting-edge research to product development. They are tomorrow’s leaders. Together, with your support, we can help to shape a better world while providing tax benefits for you and your family.


In 1961, the bold vision and challenge of a young president set into motion an unstoppable quest to go where no man had gone before. The heroes of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs channeled their talents, ambitions, and courage to full this vision by the end of the decade. Their achievements unleashed a wave of global innovation and inspired bold thinkers to pursue science, technology, engineering, and math careers that have significantly shaped our world.

The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation is committed to continuing that tradition of influencing young minds and passing the torch to a new generation of explorers. Through our prestigious scholarship program, we propel gifted students who apply their own talents and ambitions to shaping their future and the world in which they live. We invite you to join the Mercury 7 Society and be a part of our mission to keep America on the leading edge of technology and innovation.

The Mercury 7 Society

What is The Mercury 7 Society?
The Mercury 7 Society is our way of honoring the pioneers of the space program who founded ASF while celebrating the generosity of friends who are providing support for the future innovators, researchers, and entrepreneurs through a gift in their will or estate plans. The Mercury astronauts were inspired to use their good to make an impact on the next generation. Their idea succeeded beyond expectation, enabling the ASF to benefit hundreds of the best and brightest students in the decades since. Through your estate gift, you can provide a meaningful way to honor the dream that began with the Mercury astronauts and now becomes part of your story.

Working with ASF staff, you can share how you would like your legacy to impact the future. Together, you can explore new frontiers, create an endowment supporting a field that is of personal interest or fund an existing program. As a member of the Mercury 7 Society, you are demonstrating a commitment to furthering exploration in science, technology, engineering, and math.

What are the benefits of the Society?
As a distinguished supporter of the Mercury 7 Society, we offer you the following:

 • Invitation to the Mercury 7 Society Annual Induction Luncheon
 • Astronauts, Astronaut Scholar Alum and Board Members welcome new and current members of
   the Mercury 7 Society to be recognized for their generosity and ASF’s appreciation for your legacy
   gift. The President & CEO along with the Chairman will provide you with updates and share stories
   of the difference being made
 • Receive a commemorative Mercury 7 Society gift
 • Bi-annual electronic updates on the Foundation, planned giving vehicles and other information
 • Invitation to participate in bi-annual virtual update
 • Recognition on website
 • Recognition in the annual report

Do you have additional materials that I can review?
 • Mercury 7 Society booklet
 • Lasting Legacy Letter, Our Focus, and Use of Funds
 • Mercury 7 Society Commitment Form

Call 407-362-7900 or email development@astronautscholarship.org to ask questions and discuss further.

Why I Give

Lisa & George Schott
We have been dedicated to the mission of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF) for a long time. In fact, our involvement goes back to 1987, just 3 years after it was founded as the Mercury 7 Foundation. Lisa was among the earliest scholarship recipients and has remained involved in a variety of volunteer and leadership roles. Lisa began by volunteering her time, out of gratitude for the financial support that she received while studying at Georgia Tech. She is now the Vice Chair of the Board of Directors and founder of the scholarship alumni group, the Astronaut Scholars Honor Society. George is a dedicated volunteer, attending events, helping wherever needed, and frequently winning live auction bids. We appreciate the opportunities that ASF has provided to us and are pleased to have the ability to create similar opportunities for the next generation of scientists and engineers.

When you reach the point in life where you begin thinking about the legacy that you want to leave behind, you tend to reflect on others who have impacted the world in a positive way. The Mercury 7 Astronauts and their colleagues Henri Landwirth and Dr. Bill Douglas made a tremendous impression on us. Each of them achieved things in their careers beyond what most people even dream of; they truly reached the pinnacle of technical accomplishment. However, they decided that they did not want to rest on the laurels of their incredible accomplishments. They wanted to impact future generations by creating this scholarship foundation to support all frontiers of science and engineering and inspire future generations to ensure that America retains its world leadership in technology and innovation. Like the Mercury 7, we want to be remembered not only for our engineering career accomplishments but also for giving back. As Wally Schirra once said, “When all is said and done, the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation may be our greatest legacy.

Ed & Sandy Grace, Volunteer & STEM Supporter
I had the good fortune of working on the Apollo program for ten years, 1963 – 1972, at the MIT Draper Labs, designing and developing the Primary Guidance Navigation & Control System used to control and fly the Command and Lunar Modules. We had many meetings with the Astronauts on how best to design the Guidance System to meet their requirements. We also provided on-site support during missions at Johnson Space Center. I was at Johnson Space Center Mission Control for the Apollo 13 flight and a member of the Mission Operations Team awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Nixon in 1970.
About 12 years ago, I was watching the Tom Hanks Apollo 13 movie with my nine-year-old nephew, who was visiting us, explaining to him what was happening. Soon after he returned home to Michigan, I received a phone call requesting that I be his “show and tell” for his third-grade class. Of course, I fulfilled his request, and next, purely by word of mouth, my wife and I were speaking at many different schools and organizations about the Apollo 13 mission.

That led us to the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, where my wife and I have volunteered for the past five years. We attend the Innovators Week & Gala, which honors the incoming Astronaut Scholars each year. During the conference, each of the scholars gives a short presentation on the research they are doing at their school. We were so blown away with the technical presentations made by the scholars that we joined the mentor program and have now mentored three ASF scholars as they pursue their education. Being part of helping these kids get their STEM education is very rewarding to us and we would like to assist the ASF in the future by joining the Mercury 7 Society and making a commitment to support ASF’s mission to nurture exceptional and bright STEM college students for years to come with our estate plan.

Hugh Harris, Volunteer & STEM Supporter
I believe that giving is an acknowledgement of one of the deepest aspirations of humankind - the desire to leave the world a better place than we found it. We accomplish that in a myriad of ways (often with the help of many other people) but in the end it is a very personal effort of one person helping another.
The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation has helped more than 600 scholars directly but indirectly improved the lives of potentially millions more through their work. You can read the stories of how a few of those scholars are sharing their lives with the rest of the world on the ASF website.

I was drawn to helping ASF from its beginnings by my relationship with the astronauts but equally by the vision that so many supporters share with ASF. I was privileged to accompany Alan Shepard on several speaking engagements after his first flight. Back in the 1960s, we discussed, and I observed, his deep commitment to encouraging young people to seek advanced education in the technical professions. Even though I knew the early astronauts as rough and ready fighter pilots who loved practical jokes and meeting their buddies at the local watering holes in Cocoa Beach, they also often were uneasy with being in the spotlight and aware that what they said and did could have far reaching effects.
So, I was not surprised when in 1984 Shepard and the rest of the original seven astronauts created the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation; I was instantly ready to support it in my job with NASA as well as outside of work. The question for me was how I could best help the Foundation. I was able to help through various activities, but real money is the biggest essential. For me that meant multiplying what I will eventually be able to give by making ASF the partial beneficiary of the investment account I created for my children. It might have worked equally well with an insurance policy but by partnering with the stock market I am hoping for a bigger bequest than I could make otherwise.

Raymond Reines
As a young boy with a newspaper route, I became interested in collecting coins, especially after a customer taught me about silver coins. As I got older, I discovered antique cast iron mechanical toy banks, though they were very expensive. One day while antiquing in Georgia, a friend showed me a pot metal mechanical toy bank in the form of a spaceship heading toward the Moon. Having never seen this before, I began researching it and discovered that these banks were made to honor the United States’ efforts and achievements in space.

Shortly after beginning the research, I found another Strato Bank online that I had to have:

The bank was signed by Wally Schirra. After seeing pictures of my collection, Jack Sell invited me to attend the Astronaut Scholarships Foundation’s Autograph and Memorabilia Show. This began my interest in learning about the impact astronauts and the space program had on our society and culture.

I also wondered whether any museums might have an interest, so I began calling various Space-themed American historical institutions.

Of the nine museums who've acquired my gifts since 2009, five now have them on display, including the Henry Ford Museum, Queens Museum, USS Intrepid, Smithsonian Air & Space and the JFK Presidential Library & Museum in Boston.

While I enjoyed the purchasing, sharing the stories, and selling of the banks and other Space Race artifacts at the ASF events, the real impact ASF had on me was very personal. ASF changed, and defined a true purpose for, my life.

Growing up in a dysfunctional family, I had low self-esteem and didn’t have many friends. The staff at ASF and the people I met throughout the years accepted me. Everyone welcomed me and made me feel like I belonged. I had purchased autographs that helped to support the Foundation, but it was tangible, and I received something in exchange. Leaving ASF as my benefactor for my IRA is an opportunity for me to give back to an organization that means a great deal to me.

I am honored and truly appreciate the opportunity.

I wholly believe that through the ASF mission, the Astronaut Scholars will change humanity for the better. I am proud that my gift will help be a part of this effort.

Getting Started

Here are practical, simple gift ideas and estate planning tips on getting your plans in order, relevant to your stage in life, to protect your family and support the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. The goal of estate planning is to provide peace of mind and financial support for yourself and your loved ones. After your family is taken care of, you can extend your support by including a gift to the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation in your long-term plans.

I’m Under Age 40

Planning for Your Loved Ones

  Create your first will.
  Put a living will in place.
  Include a durable power of attorney.
  Take full advantage of your retirement plans.

Helping Others
  Include a gift to us in your will.
  Designate a percentage of your retirement plan assets to benefit the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation after your lifetime.

I’m Age 40-54

Planning for Your Loved Ones

  Create your first will, or update an existing document.
  Put a living will in place.
  Include a durable power of attorney.
  Take full advantage of your retirement plans.

Helping Others
  Include a gift to us in your will.
  Designate a percentage of your retirement plan assets to benefit the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation after your lifetime.
  Donate appreciated stock you have owned for more than one year.

I’m Age 55-69

Planning for Your Loved Ones

  Make sure your will is up-to-date.
  Plan for a financially secure retirement.

Helping Others
  Leave us a percentage of your assets through a gift in your will.
  Make a charitable gift to us and receive fixed payments for life.
  Designate a percentage of your retirement plan assets to benefit the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation after your lifetime.
  Donate appreciated stock you have owned for more than one year.
  Donate your home or another piece of real estate.
  Arrange a charitable remainder trust to benefit the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation.
  Set up a charitable lead trust that supports us and helps preserve your loved ones' inheritance.

I’m Age 70 or Older

Planning for Your Loved Ones

  Make sure your will is the best it can be.

Helping Others
  Leave us a percentage of your assets through a gift in your will.
  Make a charitable gift to us and receive fixed payments for life.
  Designate a percentage of your retirement plan assets to benefit the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation after your lifetime.
  Make tax-free gifts from your IRA.
  Donate appreciated stock you have owned for more than one year.
  Give savings bonds as a charitable gift through your will.
  Donate your home or another piece of real estate.
  Arrange a charitable remainder trust to benefit the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation.
  Set up a charitable lead trust that supports us and helps preserve your loved ones' inheritance.

Types of Planned Gifts

There are almost as many variations on ways to make a donation as there are needs to be met. Explore this section to discover new ways to make a gift that also take into consideration your personal circumstances and the needs of your heirs.

Gifts That Pay You Income

  Charitable Gift Annuities
  Charitable Remainder Trusts

Gifts You Make Today

  Charitable IRA Rollover
  Memorial and Honorary Gifts
  Charitable Lead Trusts
  Donor Advised Funds

Gifts That Make an Impact after Your Lifetime

  Beneficiary Designations
  Endowed Gifts
  Give My Home, But Live There for Life


What is a Planned Gift?

Planned gifts are gifts you plan today, to give in the future. They create extraordinary opportunities to support the Foundation and are a meaningful and powerful way to honor the heroes that had a vision. Examples of planned gifts are: Beneficiary through wills or trusts; Retirement plans such as IRA or 401(k); Gifts that pay you income: charitable trusts and annuities; Gifts of real estate or vacation homes.

How do I make a bequest?

A bequest is one of the easiest gifts to make. With the help of an advisor, you can include language in your will or trust specifying a gift be made to the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation to use where most needed as part of your estate plan.

What are my options to bequest?

A bequest can be made in several ways including: You can gift a specific dollar amount or asset; You can gift a percentage of your estate; You can gift from the balance or residue of your estate; You can make a beneficiary designation of certain assets.

What language should I use to state my bequest?

Adding a bequest to your will or living trust can be as simple as adding a single sentence. Here's our preferred bequest language; take this to your attorney to use as a starting point. Contact us if you have any questions! I give the sum of $___ or ___% to the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (Tax ID # 59-2448775) to be used or disposed of as its Board of Directors deems appropriate in its sole discretion.

Why should I inform you of my Planned Gift?

You have spent thoughtful time considering your legacy and we would like to be able to thank you in advance for your kind consideration.


The information on this website is not intended as legal or tax advice. For such advice, please consult an attorney or tax advisor. Figures cited in examples are for hypothetical purposes only and are subject to change. References to estate and income taxes include federal taxes only. State income/estate taxes or state law may impact your results.

Join The Mercury 7 Society
Dellene Carlson Trust

    In May 2021, ASF was fortunate to receive over $400,000 from the Dellene Carlson Trust. Learn more about Dellene and her husband and their motivation to invest in the future of STEM.

    Read Dellene's Story


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