The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF) is a 501c3 non-profit organization that provides annually more than 50 scholarships to the brightest and most talented college students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
The mission of the organization is to aid the United States in retaining its world leadership in technology and innovation by supporting the very best and brightest scholars in science, technology, engineering and mathematics while commemorating the legacy of America’s pioneering astronauts.
The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation was originally established in 1984 as the Mercury Seven Foundation. The six surviving members of the Mercury Seven astronauts: Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, John Glenn, Walter Schirra, Alan Shepard, and Deke Slayton founded the organization with the goal of using their joint credibility to encourage students to pursue scientific endeavors to keep America on the leading edge of technology. Together with Betty Grissom (widow of the seventh Mercury Astronaut, Virgil "Gus" Grissom), William Douglas, M.D. (the Project Mercury flight surgeon), and Henri Landwirth, an Orlando businessman and friend of the astronauts, the Foundation formulated scholarships for students that excelled in the area of science. In 1986, the Foundation awarded seven scholarships in honor of the Mercury 7 in the amount of $1,000 each. Today, the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation awards top students’ merit-based scholarships up to $15,000 who excel in their fields of STEM education at participating universities.
The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation leverages the knowledge, experience and network of the astronauts, successful business and industry leaders, as well as scholar alumni who have successfully navigated their careers and are willing to mentor others. The insight passed from mentor to mentee propels scholars in the right direction to fully recognize and utilize their world-changing potential.
The structure of the Mentor Program is based on the sharing of knowledge and wisdom in order to promote successful researchers, professionals and world changers. Age and experience fuel the mentor in advising and steering the up-and-coming professional with information, understanding and insight that only time and past experiences can provide. Through this program, we offer the opportunity to build peer support, friendships and guidance to help the students transition into the workforce or navigate their next career steps.
“In short, and with no exaggeration, my ASF Mentor Program experience this year has been life changing in the best way possible. My mentor is one of the most remarkable people that I have ever known and he has helped me tremendously over the last 6 months. That he would be so giving of his time to a complete stranger like me, and always convey that he actually cares about helping me, is as rare as it gets (especially given his high level of responsibility in his senior leadership role in public service)…I’ve told (him) directly how thankful I am to him, but I’ve not lost sight of how thankful I am to ASF. That $10k from 10+ years ago is nothing compared to the networking lottery that it comes with. I am living proof. I appreciate the team at ASF very much and hope to continue to give back in whatever small part that I can now and in the years that come…” Astronaut Scholar 2007
The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation is truly unique in several regards. ASF was started by America's Heroes and continues to be led by astronauts who define innovation, exploration and entrepreneurial spirit. They instill these values and an expectation for greatness in the college students who become Astronaut Scholars. The award of the scholarship is only the beginning of the relationship ASF has with the Astronaut Scholars. Throughout the scholar's career path, ASF is dedicated to providing support through mentorship, professional and personal development and networking with astronauts, C-suite level executives and industry leaders to help advance their careers.