The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders
“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 Fellows, August 2016
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 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.
Academic and Leadership Institutes: Each Mandela Washington Fellow takes part in a six-week academic and leadership Institute at a U.S. college or university in one of three tracks: Business and Entrepreneurship, Civic Leadership, or Public Management.
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: 100 selected Fellows remain in the United States to participate in a six-week professional development experience with U.S. non-governmental organizations, private companies, and governmental agencies that relate to their professional interests and goals.
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, four Regional Leadership Centers, the YALI Network, and customized programming from USAID, the Department of State, and affiliated partners. Through these experiences, select Mandela Washington Fellows have access to ongoing professional development opportunities, mentoring, networking and training, and support for their ideas, businesses, and organizations.
The Mandela Washington Fellowship 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. Please visit youngafricanleaders.state.gov for more information. The Mandela Washington Fellowship, which began in 2014, will bring up to 1000 young leaders to the United States in the summer of 2017 for academic coursework and leadership training and will create unique opportunities in Africa for Fellows to put practical new skills to use in leading their organizations, communities, and countries. The Mandela Washington Fellowship includes:
A six-week Academic and Leadership Institute: Fellows are placed at U.S. colleges and universities. Institutes will focus on skills development in one of three areas: Business and Entrepreneurship, Civic Leadership, or Public Management. It is anticipated that one Public Management Institute will focus on Energy Policy (in collaboration with Power Africa). Applicants for this Institute need not be currently working in government or in another public management role to apply to this Institute. The Public Management Energy Policy Institute is designed for those wishing to better understand how energy policy can encourage energy access, infrastructure development, and financing in sub-Saharan Africa. Institutes will take place from mid-June to late July 2017.
Financial provision of the 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
- 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.
Please note that Fellows will be housed in university dorms or similar accommodations. Fellows may be expected to share a bedroom and bathroom with another Fellow of the same gender. Most meals will be provided at campus cafeterias or restaurants, though participants may have access to a kitchen to cook some meals on their own. Please note that campus cafeterias will not offer the same types and varieties of foods that applicants may access in their home countries. It is important that applicants are aware of these arrangements and that they are comfortable with such accommodations. To the extent possible, care will be taken to ensure that any special requirements regarding diet, daily worship, housing, and medical care are satisfied. However, Fellows should understand that food and housing may be very different from what they are used to at home and should be open to new experiences.
Technical eligigibility requirements
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 at the time of application submission, 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 Fellowship.
- Please note: 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 of the information included in the application. In the event that there is a discrepancy, or information is found to be false, the application will immediately be declared invalid and the applicant ineligible.
Online Application sections
- Provide your legal name as spelled on your passport or national identification card.
- Provide your date of birth using the “month, day, year” format. You will be required to provide
documentation verifying age and for eligibility at the interview stage if you are selected as a semi-
- Provide your country of citizenship and your country of residence. You will be required to provide
documentation verifying citizenship at the interview stage if you are selected as a semi-finalist.
- Indicate your marital status (single or married).
- If applicable, provide the citizenship of your spouse.
- Provide your place of birth (city or town and country).
- Indicate whether or not you have a disability and provide details if applicable.
- Indicate whether or not you have a passport and if so, provide the document’s expiration date. If
you indicate that you have a passport you will be required to present it at the interview stage if you
are selected as a semi-finalist.
- Indicate if you live in a national capital city, major city, other city or town, or rural area. A national
capital city is the seat of your federal or national government (example: Abuja, Nigeria or Dakar, Senegal). A major city is defined an urban area with a large population of about 100,000+ people (Example: Cape Town, South Africa). A town is roughly defined as a semi-urban area with a population between 2,500 – 100,000 people (Example: Lamu, Kenya). A rural area is defined as any area with fewer than 2,500 inhabitants and is distinctively not in an urban area (Example: Chachani, Tanzania).
To APPLY ONLINE "Further official information" below and fill the application form.
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