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The Mandela Washington Fellowship to Empower Young African Leaders: YALI 2024. Apply now


The Mandela Washington Fellowship is a transformative program set to bring up to 700 young leaders to the United States during the summer of 2024. This comprehensive executive-style initiative is strategically designed to enhance skills and empower Fellows, enabling them to take the lead in their specific sectors and communities.

About the Mandela Washington Fellowship
The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is a major program of the U.S. Government’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). From 2014 onwards, almost 6,500 young leaders from all Sub-Saharan African countries have taken part in this Fellowship. These Fellows, aged between 25 and 35, are skilled leaders who have made a positive impact and brought innovation to their communities and countries.

Benefits of the Fellowship

  • Engage in a Dynamic Leadership Institute: Take part in an intensive six-week Leadership Institute hosted by esteemed U.S. universities, offering a platform to exchange insights with U.S. citizens and fellow Fellows.
  • Expand Expertise Across Industries: Step beyond your everyday work to explore diverse industries, expanding your knowledge and expertise.
  • Join Forces with African Leaders: Participate in a Summit, connecting with young African leaders and fostering meaningful partnerships.
  • Engage with Influential Figures: Interact with U.S. Government officials, civic leaders, and business icons, gaining valuable insights and perspectives.
  • Forge Lasting Connections: Strengthen your professional network by cultivating new relationships, acquiring fresh skills, and nurturing innovative ideas.
  • Global Alumni Network: Join a powerful network of Alumni, spanning across continents, to collaboratively address shared challenges through innovative solutions.

Selection Process
Merit-Based Selection:
The Mandela Washington Fellowship employs a merit-based selection process, assessed through independent reviews of applications. Chosen semi-finalists will undergo in-person interviews conducted by U.S. embassies or consulates in their home countries. Selected finalists must attend a mandatory Pre-Fellowship Orientation in Africa.

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Eligibility Criteria
The selection process for the Mandela Washington Fellowship is guided by principles of fairness and inclusion. Applicants will not face discrimination based on race, color, gender, religion, socioeconomic status, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity. The Fellowship is open to young African leaders who fulfill the eligibility criteria:

  • Are aged 25-35 (applicants aged 21-24 exceptional cases) by the application deadline
  • Are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents
  • Are eligible for a U.S. J-1 visa
  • Are not affiliated with the U.S. Government or immediate family of U.S. Government employees
  • Possess English language proficiency
  • Are not Alumni of the Mandela Washington Fellowship
  • Are unaccompanied by dependents during the Fellowship
  • Are citizens of one of the following countries: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cabo Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), 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;

Selection Criteria
The selection for the Mandela Washington Fellowship will be assessed based on:

  • Proven Leadership: Accomplishments in business, entrepreneurship, civic engagement, or public/government service
  • Commitment to Service: Dedication to community service, mentorship, or volunteerism
  • Collaboration Skills: Ability to work harmoniously in diverse groups and respect differing viewpoints
  • Effective Communication: Strong social and communication aptitudes
  • Positive Outlook: Energetic, flexible, and positive attitude
  • Sector Expertise: Relevant professional experience and clear goals for applying newfound knowledge
  • Community Contribution: Pledge to return to Africa and contribute to community development
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To apply
Click on the Mandela Washington Fellowship application link and fill out the form appropriately.

August 15, 2023: Application opens
September 12, 2023: Application deadline
November 2023 – January 2024: Semi-finalist interviews by U.S. embassies and consulates
March 2024: Notification of application status
May 2024: Visa processing and Pre-Departure Orientations for Finalists
June 2024: Commencement of Fellowship in the United States

Watch the 2023 Alumni Symposium Videos

Types of Opportunity: Comprehensive Executive-Style Program
Application Deadline: September 12, 2023
Location: United States
Organizer: The U.S. Department of State and IREX
Country: African countries


You can Visit the Mandela Washington Fellowship official website 


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