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2016 Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders


The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is the flagship program of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). President Obama launched YALI in 2010 to support young African leaders as they spur growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance, and enhance peace and security across Africa. Please visit youngafricanleaders.state.gov for more information. The Mandela Washington Fellowship, which began in 2014, will bring 1000 young leaders to the United States in the summer of 2016 for academic coursework and leadership training and will create unique opportunities in Africa for Fellows to put practical new skills to use in leading their organizations, communities, and countries. The Mandela Washington Fellowship includes:

  1.  A six-week Academic and Leadership Institute: Fellows are placed at U.S. colleges and universities. Institutes will focus on skills development in one of three areas: Business and Entrepreneurship, Civic Leadership, or Public Management. New in 2016 we will also pilot a specialized Institute on Energy. Institutes will take place from mid-June to late July 2016.
  2. A Summit with President Obama in Washington, DC: At the conclusion of the academic and leadership institute, all Fellows will participate in a Presidential Summit. The Summit will take place in late July or early August 2016.
  3. An optional six-week Professional Development Experience: As part of the Fellowship application, individuals may apply to participate in a professional development experience (PDE) at a U.S. company, civil society organization, or public sector agency in the United States. The PDE offers Fellows practical training and the opportunity to learn transferable skills, expand their professional network, and apply concepts learned at the Institutes to real-world situations. Placements will relate to Fellows’ professional interests and goals but are typically not an exact match for their current position at their home organization. Rather, this experience offers Fellows new perspectives on their fields, deepens their awareness of issues present in both the United States and their home countries, and equips them with best practices that can be applied to their work upon their return home. Professional Development Experiences will be intensive and demanding, and chosen Fellows may be placed at organizations across the United States. Fellows selected must be available to be in the U.S. for approximately 13 weeks total (academic institute plus placement with a U.S. organization). Up to 100 Mandela Washington Fellows will be selected for the Professional Development Experience. 2016 Mandela Washington Fellowship Application Instructions Page 2 Application Deadline – 9:00 pm GMT, Wednesday, November 11, 2015
  4. Activities in Africa: Fellows will have access to networking opportunities, ongoing professional development, seed funding, and volunteer opportunities upon their return home after the Fellowship.

Selection Process

The Mandela Washington 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.

Who is eligible to apply?

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.

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.


What are the criteria for selection?

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.

Application Information:

The application will collect basic information and will include questions regarding the applicant’s professional and academic experience, including educational background; honors and awards received; extracurricular and volunteer activities; and English language proficiency. We will also request a résumé (with dated educational and professional background), and personal information (name, address, phone, email, country of citizenship). Additional elements, such as letters of recommendation or university transcripts, are OPTIONAL and may supplement your application.

Application Timeline:

   October 1, 2015:    Application opens
   November 11, 2015:    Application closes
 January-February 2016:    Semifinalists interviewed by local U.S. Embassies and Consulates
   March 2016:    Applicants are notified of their status
   April-May 2016:    Visa processing for finalists
   Mid-June 2016:    Fellowship starts in the United States

Apply here and for more information, click here


  1. I am really appreciated, hoping every thing will be alright. thanks alot

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