About the Mandela Washington Fellowship


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The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is the flagship program the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). YALI was launched in 2010 to support young Africans as they spur growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance, and enhance peace and security across Africa. The Mandela Washington Fellowship, which began in 2014, brings young leaders to the United States for academic coursework and leadership training and creates unique opportunities in Africa for Fellows to put new skills to practical use in leading organizations, communities, and countries.


The Fellowship, which began in 2014, has already engaged 3,000 young leaders from every country in Sub-Saharan Africa. These young leaders represent the diversity of Africa, including equal numbers of women and men, individuals with disabilities, and people from both urban and rural areas. 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 the summer of 2018, up to 700 Fellows will participate in the Fellowship.

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


U.S.-Based Activities

Academic and Leadership Institutes

Each Mandela Washington Fellow takes part in a six-week Academic and Leadership Institute at a U.S. university or college in one of three tracks: Business and Entrepreneur-ship, Civic Leadership, or Public Management, including a special Public Management Institute on Energy Policy. As the majority of Fellows have not previously spent significant time in the United States before their Institute, the Fellowship is forging new relationships between Africans and Americans, both at the host colleges and in the surrounding communities.

Mandela Washington Fellowship Summit

Following the academic residency of the Fellowship, the Fellows visit Washington, D.C., for the Mandela Washington Fellowship Summit. During this multi-day event, Fellows take part in networking and panel discussions with each other and U.S. leaders from the public, private, and non-profit sectors.

Professional Development Experience

Up to one hundred competitively-selected Fellows remain in the United States after the Summit to participate in individually tailored six-week professional development experi-ences. These Fellows are placed with non-governmental organizations, private compa-nies, and government agencies that relate to their professional interests and goals.


Activities Based in Africa

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, USAID, and affiliated partners through regional conferences, professional practicum experiences, and mentoring opportuni-ties. Fellows may also apply for their American partners to travel to Africa to continue project-based collaboration through the new Reciprocal Exchange component. Watch the video series featuring Fellows’ successes upon returning home.


Biographies of the 3,000 Mandela Washington Fellows from 2014 to 2017 are available in a searchable online directory on IREX’s website.


The 2017 Mandela Washington Fellowship Institute Partners

2018 Institute Partners To Be Announced