Mandela Washington Fellowship

Mandela Washington Fellowship

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The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders

2015 Mandela Washington Fellows during the Summit with President Obama

2015 Mandela Washington Fellows during the Summit with President Obama

“The world will not be able to deal with climate change or terrorism, or expanding women’s rights — all the issues that we face globally — without a rising and dynamic and self-reliant Africa. And that, more importantly than anything else, depends on a rising generation of new leaders. It depends on you.”
President Barack Obama at a Town Hall with Mandela Washington Fellows, August 2016

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, begun in 2014, is the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) that empowers young people through academic coursework, leadership training, and networking. In 2017, the Fellowship will provide up to 1,000 outstanding young leaders from Sub-Saharan Africa with the opportunity to hone their skills at a U.S. college or university with support for professional development after they return home.

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 2016, Fellows represented all 49 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. They also represent diversity across the continent as 66 Fellows identified as having a disability, thirty percent came from rural areas or towns of fewer than 100,000 people, and fifty percent of Fellows were women.

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. college or university in one of three tracks: Business and Entrepreneurship, Civic Leadership, or Public Management.

Summit: Following the academic component of the Fellowship, the Fellows visit Washington, D.C., for a Summit featuring networking and panel discussions with U.S. leaders from the public, private, and non-profit sectors.

Professional Development Experience: 100 selected Fellows remain in the United States to participate in a six-week professional development experience with U.S. non-governmental organizations, private companies, and governmental agencies that relate to their professional interests and goals.

Africa-based activities

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, four Regional Leadership Centers, the YALI Network, and customized programming from USAID, the Department of State, and affiliated partners. Through these experiences, select Mandela Washington Fellows have access to ongoing professional development opportunities, mentoring, networking and training, and support for their ideas, businesses, and organizations.

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