About the Mandela Washington Fellowship


The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is the flagship program the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). Since 2014, 3,700 young leaders from every country in Sub-Saharan Africa have participated in the Fellowship. The Fellows, between the ages of 25 and 35, are accomplished innovators and leaders in their communities and countries. By summer 2019, 4,400 Fellows across Sub-Saharan Africa will form an invaluable network of alumni who are spurring growth and prosperity, strengthening democratic governance, and enhancing peace and security across the continent.

For more information on the Mandela Washington Fellowship, visit yali.state.gov/mwf. You can also follow the Fellowship on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

U.S.-Based Activities

Leadership Institutes

All Fellows participate in six-week Institutes at U.S. colleges or universities studying Business, Civic Engagement, or Public Management. During their time on campus, Fellows connect with Americans and enrich local U.S. communities while sharing best practices.

Mandela Washington Fellowship Summit

After the Institutes, Fellows convene for a multi-day Summit in Washington, D.C., where they forge connections with one another and U.S. leaders from the private, public, and non-profit sectors, setting the stage for long-term engagement between the United States and Africa.

Professional Development Experience

Up to 70 competitively-selected Fellows remain in the United States for four weeks to work with private, public, and non-profit organizations. Fellows and hosts benefit from mutual learning on common issues and challenges in their sectors, broadening perspectives and positioning U.S. organizations for international engagement.

Reciprocal Exchanges

Americans travel to Africa to collaborate on projects with Fellows, building upon connections initiated while Fellows were in the United States. These partnerships and professional connections expand markets and networks, form lasting relationships, and increase mutual understanding. Learn more about Reciprocal Exchanges here.

Activities Based in Africa

Upon returning home, Fellows continue to build the skills and connections developed during their time in the United States through access to ongoing professional development, networking, and collaboration opportunities with support from the U.S. Department of State and affiliated partners. Watch the video series featuring Fellows’ successes upon returning home.