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Mandela Washington Fellowship
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The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is the flagship program of the U.S. Government’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI).

Mandela Washington Fellowship

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is the founding flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative.  The Fellows, between the ages of 25 and 35, are accomplished leaders and have established records of promoting innovation and positive impact in their communities and countries.  Each year, Fellows participate in six-week leadership institutes, studying business, civic engagement, or public management at U.S. colleges or universities.  During their time on campus, Fellows connect with Americans and local U.S. communities through community service and other cultural experiences.  In 2023, 700 Fellows will travel to the United States, with up to 100 of them participating in four-week Professional Development Experiences with private U.S. companies, NGOs, and state and local governments.  The reciprocal exchange component provides opportunities for Americans to travel to Africa to work with Fellowship Alumni on issues of importance to both the United States and Africa while contributing to U.S. public diplomacy efforts.  As of 2022 nearly 300 Americans have participated in in-person, hybrid, or virtual reciprocal exchanges. 

Apply to be a Mandela Washington Fellow

About the Fellowship

U.S.-Based Activities

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

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. Learn more about the Summit

Professional Development Experience: Following the Summit, a group of competitively-selected Fellows remains in the United States for four weeks to work with private, public, and non-profit organizations. Both Fellows and Hosts benefit from discussing shared issues and challenges in their sectors, broadening their perspectives, and positioning U.S. organizations for international engagement. Learn more about PDEs

Reciprocal Exchanges: Americans have the opportunity to apply to travel to Africa to collaborate on projects with Fellows, building upon connections initiated during the program. These partnerships and professional connections are intended to form lasting relationships, expand markets and networks, and increase mutual understanding. Learn more about Reciprocal Exchanges

Opportunities for Alumni: Fellows continue to build on the skills and connections developed during the program through access to ongoing professional development, networking, and collaboration opportunities with support from the U.S. Department of State and affiliated partners. Learn more about opportunities for Alumni

Virtual Programming: The Fellowship leverages stakeholder expertise to deliver a suite of virtual programming for selected candidates and Fellowship Alumni to support their continued leadership development and strengthen their access to networks and resources. Learn more about Virtual Programming