The Mandela Washington Fellowships for Young African Leaders is the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). President Obama launched YALI in 2010 to support young African leaders as they spur growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance, and enhance peace and security across Africa.
Application Deadline: Thursday, 11th October, 2017
Offered annually? Yes
Eligible Countries: Sub-Saharan African countries
To be taken at (country): U.S
About the Award: “The world will not be able to deal with climate change or terrorism, or expanding women’s rights — all the issues that we face globally — without a rising and dynamic and self-reliant Africa. And that, more importantly than anything else, depends on a rising generation of new leaders. It depends on you.”
President Barack Obama at a Town Hall with Mandela Washington Fellowships participants, August 2016
The Mandela Washington Fellowships for Young African Leaders empowers young people through academic coursework, leadership training, and networking. In 2017, the Fellowship will provide up to 1,000 outstanding young leaders from Sub-Saharan Africa with the opportunity to hone their skills at a U.S. college or university with support for professional development after they return home.
The Fellows, who are between the ages of 25 and 35, have established records of accomplishment in promoting innovation and positive change in their organizations, institutions, communities, and countries. In 2016, Fellows represented all 49 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. They also represent diversity across the continent as 66 Fellows identified as having a disability, thirty percent came from rural areas or towns of fewer than 100,000 people, and fifty percent of Fellows were women.
Offered Since: 2014
Eligibility: Candidates must:
- be between the ages of 25 and 35 although exceptional applicants younger than 25 will be considered;
- Are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the United States;
- Are eligible to receive a United States J-1 visa;
- Are not employees or immediate family members of employees of the U.S. government (including the U.S. Embassy, USAID, and other U.S. government entities);
- Are proficient in reading, writing, and speaking English;
- Are citizens of one of the following countries: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Republic of the Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
- Are residents of one of the above countries; and
- Are not alumni of the Mandela Washington Fellowships.
- Please note: Fellows are not allowed to have dependents (including spouses and children) accompany them during the Fellowship.
Number of Awardees: Up to 1000
Selection Process and Criteria: The Mandela Washington Fellowship selection process is a merit-based open competition. After the deadline, all eligible applications will be reviewed by a selection panel. Following this review, chosen semifinalists will be interviewed by the U.S. embassies or consulates in their home countries. If advanced to the semi-finalist round, applicants must provide a copy of their international passport (if available) or other government-issued photo identification at the time of the interview. Selection panels will use the following criteria to evaluate applications (not in order of importance):
- A proven record of leadership and accomplishment in public service, business and entrepreneurship, or civic engagement;
- A demonstrated commitment to public or community service, volunteerism, or mentorship;
- The ability to work cooperatively in diverse groups and respect the opinions of others;
- Strong social and communication skills;
- An energetic, positive attitude;
- A demonstrated knowledge, interest, and professional experience in the sector/track selected; and
- A commitment to return to Africa and apply leadership skills and training to benefit the applicant’s country and/or community after they return home
Value of Fellowship: There is no fee to apply to the Mandela Washington Fellowship. If you are selected for the Fellowship, the U.S. government will cover all participant costs. Financial provisions provided by the U.S. Government will include:
- J-1 visa support;
- Round-trip travel from Fellow’s home city to the U.S. and domestic U.S. travel as required by the program;
- A six-week academic and leadership institute;
- Concluding Summit in Washington, DC;
- Accident and sickness benefit plan;
- Housing and meals during the program; and
- An optional six-week Professional Development Experience (for up to 100 Fellows).
- Please note: the Fellowship will not cover salary while Fellows are away from work or funds for personal purchases such as gifts.
Mandela Washington Fellows will also have access to ongoing professional development opportunities, mentoring, networking and training, and support for their ideas, businesses, and organizations.
How to Apply: The deadline for applications for the Mandela Washington Fellowship is 4:00 PM GMT on Wednesday, October 26, 2016. Applications must be completed online at https://yaliapp.irex.org.
It is important to visit the official website (link below) for detailed information on how to apply for this Fellowship.
Award Provider: American Government, Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI)
Important Notes: The Mandela Washington Fellowships are not designed to help Fellows identify funding for projects or organizations.