Mandela Washington Fellowship for 1,000 Young African Leaders

Mandela Washington Fellowship
Mandela Washington Fellowship applications are now open for the 2016  for Young African Leaders. In summer 2016, the Mandela Washington Fellowship bring 1,000 young African leaders to the United States for academic coursework and leadership training. Fellows will travel to U.S. university and college campuses for six-week academic and leadership Institutes in one of three tracks: Business and Entrepreneurship, Civic Leadership, or Public Management. New in 2016 will also be the pilot for a specialized Institute on Energy.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship is the flagship program of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) that empowers young people through academic coursework, leadership training, and networking. This program will provide outstanding young leaders from Sub-Saharan Africa with the opportunity to hone their skills at a U.S. higher education institution with support for professional development after they return home.


There is no fee to apply to the Mandela Washington Fellowship. If you are selected for the Fellowship, the U.S. government will cover all participant costs.

Financial provisions provided by the U.S. Government will include:

  • J-1 visa support;
  • Round-trip travel from fellow’s home city to the U.S. and travel as required by the program;
  • A six-week academic and leadership institute;
  • Concluding Summit in Washington, DC;
  • Accident and sickness benefit plan;
  • Housing and meals during the program;
  • An optional six-week Professional Development Experience (for up to 100 Fellows).

Please note: the Fellowship will not cover salary while Fellows are away from work or funds for personal purchases such as gifts.


Applicants will not be discriminated against on the basis of race, color, gender, religion, socio-economic 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 at the time of application submission, although exceptional applicants younger than 25 will be considered.
  • Are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the U.S.
  • Are eligible to receive a United States J-1 visa.
  • Are proficient in reading, writing, and speaking English.
  • Are citizens and residents of one of the following countries: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cabo Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Republic of the Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, 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, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
  • Are not alumni of the Mandela Washington Fellowship.

Please note: Fellows are not allowed to have dependents (including spouses and children) accompany them during the Fellowship.

Individuals residing in Eritrea and Zimbabwe may not apply to the Public Management track. Residents of Sudan may only apply for the Civic Leadership track.

Selection Criteria

Selection panels will use the following criteria to evaluate applications (not in order of importance):

  • A proven record of leadership and accomplishment in public service, business and entrepreneurship, or civic engagement.
  • A demonstrated commitment to public or community service, volunteerism, or mentorship.
  • The ability to work cooperatively in diverse groups and respect the opinions of others.
  • Strong social and communication skills.
  • An energetic, positive attitude.
  • Demonstrated knowledge, interest and professional experience in the sector/track selected.
  • 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.

How it Works

The Fellowship is conducted as a merit-based open competition. After the deadline, all eligible applications will be reviewed by a selection panel. Chosen semifinalists will be interviewed by the U.S. embassies or consulates in their home countries. If selected for an interview, applicants must provide a copy of their passport (if available) or other government-issued photo identification to verify eligibility.

Deadline: November 11, 2015

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