The U.S. Department of State is accepting applications for the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders from September 12 to October 9, 2019.
Begun in 2014, the Mandela Washington Fellowship is the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) that empowers young people through academic coursework, leadership training, and networking. In summer 2020, the Fellowship will host up to 700 young African leaders. Apply now!
Fellows will travel to U.S. university or college campuses for six-week Leadership Institutes in one of three tracks: Business, Civic Engagement, or Public Management. For more details on the sector tracks, please review the application instructions.
The intensive six-week Institute model uses leadership development as the framework to create links between academic sessions, a strengths-based Common Leadership Curriculum, site visits, community service, and cultural activities. Fellows in all three themes will gain both theoretical knowledge and practical skills, and the Institutes will take place from mid-June to late July 2020. The Institutes will culminate in a Summit in Washington, D.C., featuring networking and panel discussions with U.S. leaders from the public, private, and non-profit sectors.
Additionally, up to 70 competitively-selected Fellows will remain in the United States to participate in individually tailored four-week Professional Development Experiences (PDE) at an NGO, business, or government agency throughout the United States. The PDE offers Fellows practical training and the opportunity to learn transferable skills, expand their professional networks, and apply concepts learned at the Institutes to real-world situations in the U.S. context.
Upon returning to their home countries, Fellows will continue to build their leadership skills through support from U.S. embassies, USAID, and affiliated partners through networking opportunities, ongoing professional development, and mentoring.
For information on the application and selection process, eligibility, application and selection timeline, and more, please visit our application page.
Be a part of the next generation of African leaders!
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.
This is an unparalleled opportunity to…
- Participate in a six-week Leadership Institute at a U.S. college or
university to share your experiences with and to learn from
Americans and other Fellows.
- Explore industries beyond your daily work and expand your expertise.
- Attend a Summit with young African leaders in Washington, D.C.
- Meet with U.S. Government, civic, and business leaders.
- Strengthen your work through new connections, skills, and ideas.
- Join a continental and global Alumni network to help you seek innovative solutions to common challenges.
- 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
Application and Selection Process
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 independent readers. Following this review, chosen semi-finalists will be interviewed by the U.S. embassies or consulates in their home countries. Selected semi-finalists will be required to participate in these in-person interviews in their home country within Africa. 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. Selected Finalists are required to attend the mandatory Pre-Departure Orientation in their home country within Africa.
Who is eligible to apply?
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 information is found to be false, the application will immediately be declared invalid and the applicant ineligible.
What are the criteria for selection?
The following criteria will be used to evaluate applications (not in order of importance):
- 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.