Mandela Washington Fellowship

Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders 2024

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is the flagship program of the United States Government’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). YALI was founded in 2010 and will celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2020. Since its inception in 2014, the Mandela Washington Fellowship has brought nearly 6,800 young leaders from every country in Sub-Saharan Africa to the United States for academic and leadership development. The Fellows, who range in age from 25 to 35, are accomplished innovators and leaders in their communities and countries.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship 2024 will bring up to 700 young leaders to the United States in the summer of 2024 for a comprehensive executive-style program that is designed to build skills and empower Fellows to lead in their respective sectors and communities.

Benefits of the Mandela Washington Fellowship Programme

The Fellowship is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to:

  • Join a six-week Leadership Institute at a college or institution in the United States to share your experiences with locals and other Fellows while also learning from them.
  • Expand your knowledge by looking at fields outside of your regular profession.
  • Attend a summit with the future leaders of Africa.
  • Meet with leaders from the American government, community, and industry.
  • Create new connections, talents, and ideas to strengthen your work.
  • Join a regional or worldwide alumni network to help you look for original answers to everyday problems.

Fellowship Components

Mandela Washington Fellowships Application Readers

Leadership Institutes:

Throughout the Fellowship, Fellows take part in six-week Leadership Institutes at American colleges and universities where they study business, civic engagement, or public management. Fellows improve local American communities while exchanging best practises around the Institutes.

Mandela Washington Fellowship Summit:

Following the Institutes, Fellows gather for a Summit where they network with American leaders from the governmental, business, and nonprofit sectors. This summit paves the way for sustained engagement between the US and Africa.

Professional Development Experiences (PDEs):

Either immediately following the Summit during their Fellowship or as Alumni, Fellows may apply for the chance to work with private, public, and non-profit organisations for up to six weeks. Discussing common problems and opportunities in their industries, widening their horizons, and positioning American businesses for global participation are all advantages for both Fellows and Hosts.

Exchanges in Return:

Americans can apply to work on projects in sub-Saharan African nations to carry on the collaborative work with Fellowship Alumni there. These collaborations and professional contacts are meant to create long-term bonds, widen networks and marketplaces, and deepen communication.

Opportunities for Alumni:

With assistance from the U.S. Department of State and connected partners, Fellowship Alumni can continue to develop the skills and relationships they made while participating in the programme by taking advantage of ongoing professional development, networking, and cooperation opportunities.

Virtual Programming:

To assist the Fellowship Network’s continuous leadership development and to increase their access to networks and resources, the Fellowship draws on the experience of stakeholder groups to present a variety of virtual programming.

Selection Process and Criteria

The Mandela Washington Fellowship selection process is a merit-based open competition.  Independent readers will examine all eligible applications after the deadline.

The U.S. embassies or consulates in the selected semi-finalists’ home countries will interview them following this review.  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.

Eligibility Criteria

Applicants will not be discriminated against on the basis of race, color, gender, religion, socioeconomic 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, or other U.S. Government entity);
  • Are proficient in reading, writing, and speaking English (additional guidance coming for applicants who are deaf);
  • 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;
  • 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.

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Selection Criteria

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.

Application and Selection Timeline

  • August 15, 2023  |  Application opens
  • September 12, 2023  |  Application deadline
  • November 2023 – January 2024  |  Semi-finalists interviewed by local U.S. embassies and consulates
  • March 2024 |  Applicants notified of their status
  • May 2024  |  Visa processing and Pre-Departure Orientations for Finalists
  • June 2024  |  Fellowship begins in the United States

Application closes on 12th September 2023

Click here and apply

For more info visit Mandela Washington Fellowship 2024 website or here:

FAQ: Mandela Washington Fellowship

The Mandela Washington Fellowship is a flagship program initiated by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. This program is part of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) and aims to empower and engage young African leaders through academic coursework, leadership training, and networking opportunities. The fellowship offers a six-week intensive training in various universities and colleges across the United States.

Key Information:
1. Initiated by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
2. Part of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI).
3. Provides academic coursework, leadership training, and networking for young African leaders.

Who is eligible to apply for the Mandela Washington Fellowship?

The Mandela Washington Fellowship is open to young leaders from sub-Saharan African countries who meet certain criteria. Applicants should be between the ages of 25 and 35, have a proven track record of leadership and community engagement, and should demonstrate a commitment to making a positive impact in their respective communities and countries. Proficiency in English is required, as the program is conducted in English.

Key Information:
1. Open to young leaders from sub-Saharan African countries.
2. Age requirement: 25 to 35 years old.
3. Emphasis on leadership experience, community engagement, and commitment to positive change.

What are the benefits of the Mandela Washington Fellowship?

Selected Mandela Washington Fellows receive a comprehensive package of benefits during their participation in the program.

These benefits include academic courses, leadership training, mentoring, professional development opportunities, access to networking events, and the chance to connect with U.S. leaders from various sectors. After completing the program, Fellows become part of the YALI Network for continued collaboration and support.

Key Information:
1. Academic courses and leadership training.
2. Mentorship and professional development opportunities.
3. Access to a network of U.S. leaders and continued engagement through the YALI Network.

How can I apply for the Mandela Washington Fellowship?

To apply for the Mandela Washington Fellowship, you need to complete an online application during the designated application period. The application requires personal and professional information, essays detailing your leadership experience and goals, and letters of recommendation.

The selection process is competitive and involves a rigorous review of the applications by a panel of experts. If you are shortlisted, you may also need to participate in an interview.

Key Information:
1. Online application during the application period.
2. Essays and letters of recommendation are essential components.
3. Competitive selection process including expert reviews and possible interviews.

What is the YALI Network?

The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Network is a platform that connects and supports young African leaders even after they complete the Mandela Washington Fellowship.

It provides online courses, webinars, networking opportunities, and resources to help Fellows continue their leadership journey, collaborate on projects, and stay engaged with fellow alumni. The YALI Network aims to foster a community of change-makers dedicated to addressing critical issues across Africa.

Key Information:
1. YALI Network supports alumni after the fellowship.
2. Offers online courses, webinars, networking, and resources.
3. Focus on continued collaboration, leadership growth, and addressing critical issues.

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2 thoughts on “Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders 2024”

  1. I would have wanted my daughter who just graduated and currently doing her NYSC to apply but she is just 21 years old but will turn 22 in December. Can she apply and lastly what is the cost of attendance of this laudable conference?

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