The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). The fully-funded international fellowship in the USA brings young leaders to the United States for academic coursework and leadership training and creates unique opportunities for Fellows and Americans to collaborate and as they spur growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance, and enhance peace and security across Africa and the United States.
The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, begun in 2014, is the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) that empowers young people through academic coursework, leadership training, and networking. In 2019, the Fellowship will provide 700 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 Mandela Washington Fellowship will bring up to 700 young leaders to the United States in the summer of 2020 for a comprehensive executive-style program that is designed to build skills and empower Fellows to lead in their respective sectors and communities.
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Mandela Washington Fellowship Details:
- United States of America
- The U.S. Department of State
- The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government and administered by IREX.
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- There are many benefits to being a Mandela Washington Fellow. Fellows have the opportunity to develop their skills at six-week institutes at U.S. colleges and universities.
- They will strengthen their leadership skills and experience personal growth through participation in academic sessions, workshops, site visits, community service, networking, and organized cultural and civic activities.
- After completing the Fellowship, alumni return to their home countries to apply what they learned in their local communities.
- Mandela Washington Fellows benefit their communities in a variety of ways, from spurring growth and prosperity to strengthening democratic governance and enhancing peace and security across sub-Saharan Africa.
Financial Provisions of the Fellowship:
There is no fee to apply to the Mandela Washington Fellowship in the USA. If you are selected for the Fellowship, the U.S. Government will cover all program 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 United States and domestic U.S. travel as required by the program (Fellows must fly out of their home country within Africa to the United States.);
- A six-week Leadership Institute;
- A concluding Summit in Washington, D.C.;
- A limited accident and sickness benefit plan;
- Housing and meals during the program; and
- An optional four-week Professional Development Experience (for up to 70 Fellows)
About the US Fellowship 2020:
U.S.- Based Activities
- Leadership Institutes: Each Mandela Washington Fellow takes part in a six-week Leadership Institute at a U.S. college or university in one of three tracks: Business, Civic Engagement, or Public Management. The intensive model includes linkages between academic sessions, site visits, professional networking opportunities, leadership training, community service, and organized cultural activities.
- Mandela Washington Fellowship Summit: Following the academic component of the Fellowship, the Fellows visit Washington, D.C., for a Summit featuring networking and panel discussions with U.S. leaders from the public, private, and non-profit sectors.
- Professional Development Experience: Seventy selected Fellows remain in the United States to participate in a four-week Professional Development Experience with U.S. non-governmental organizations, private companies, and governmental agencies that relate to their professional interests and goals. The PDE is designed to give Fellows practical training and the opportunity to learn transferable skills, expand their professional networks, and apply concepts learned at their Institutes to real-world situations in the U.S. context.
- Upon returning to their home countries, Fellows continue to build the skills they have developed during their time in the United States through support from U.S. embassies, the YALI Network, USAID, the Department of State, and affiliated partners. Through these experiences, select Mandela Washington Fellows have access to ongoing professional development and networking opportunities, as well as support for their ideas, businesses, and organizations. Fellows may also apply for their American partners to travel to Africa to continue project-based collaboration through the Reciprocal Exchange Component.
Applicants will not be discriminated against on the basis of race, color, gender, religion, socio-economic status, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity. The Mandela Washington Fellowship is open to young African leaders who meet the following criteria:
- Are between the ages of 25 and 35 on or before the application deadline, although exceptional applicants ages 21-24 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 a U.S. embassy or consulate, USAID, and other U.S. Government entities);
- Are proficient in reading, writing, and speaking English (applicants who are deaf should refer to the English Language instructions on the Resources page)
- Are citizens of one of the following countries: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cabo Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Republic of the Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Eswatini, 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, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, or Zimbabwe;
- Are residents of one of the above countries; and
- Are not alumni of the Mandela Washington Fellowship.
Please note that Fellows are not allowed to have dependents, including spouses and children, accompany them during the Fellowship. The U.S. Department of State and IREX reserve the right to verify all information included in the application. In the event of a discrepancy, or if the information is found to be false, the application will immediately be declared invalid and the applicant ineligible.
- A proven record of leadership and accomplishment in business, civic engagement, or public service;
- A demonstrated commitment to public or community service, volunteerism, or mentorship;
- The ability to work cooperatively in diverse groups and to respect the opinions of others;
- Strong social and communication skills;
- An energetic, positive attitude;
- A demonstrated knowledge of, interest in, and professional experience in the preferred sector/track; 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.
How to Apply for a Fully Funded Fellowship 2020 in the USA?
The application will collect basic information and will include questions regarding applicants’ professional and academic experience including professional background; educational background; honors and awards received; extracurricular and volunteer activities; and English language proficiency. As part of the application, applicants will also be asked to provide written responses to personal statements (essay questions). Additional elements, such as letters of recommendation or university transcripts, are OPTIONAL and may supplement your application.
- September 12, 2019, | Application opens
- October 9, 2019, | Application deadline
- December 2019 – February 2020 | Semifinalists interviewed by local U.S. embassies and consulates
- Late March 2020 | Applicants are notified of their status
- May 2020 | Visa processing and Pre-Departure Orientations for Finalists
- Mid-June 2020 | Fellowship begins in the United States