Mandela Washington Fellowship 2020 for Young African Leaders (Fully Funded to US)


Applications are invited from young African leaders to the 2020 Mandela Washington Fellowship. The deadline for submission of applications is 9th October, 2019.

Mandela Washington Fellowship

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). The Fellowship, begun in 2014, supports young African leaders as they spur growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance, and enhance peace and security across Africa. Please visit vali.state.gov for more information.



The Mandela Washington Fellowship will bring up to 700 young leaders to the United States in the summer of 2020 for a comprehensive executive-style program that is designed to build skills and empower Fellows to lead in their respective sectors and communities.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship includes:

  • A six-week Leadership Institute: Each Mandela Washington Fellow takes part in a six-week Leadership Institute at a U.S. college or university in one of three tracks: Business, Civic Engagement, or Public Management. The intensive model includes linkages between academic sessions, site visits, professional networking opportunities, leadership training, community service, and organized cultural activities.  Learn more >
  • Mandela Washington Fellowship 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: Seventy selected Fellows remain in the United States to participate in a four-week Professional Development Experience with U.S. non-governmental organizations, private companies, and governmental agencies that relate to their professional interests and goals. The PDE is designed to give Fellows practical training and the opportunity to learn transferable skills, expand their professional networks, and apply concepts learned at their Institutes to real-world situations in the U.S. context.
  • Activities 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, the YALI Network, USAID, the Department of State, and affiliated partners. Through these experiences, select Mandela Washington Fellows have access to ongoing professional development and networking opportunities, as well as support for their ideas, businesses, and organizations. Fellows may also apply for their American partners to travel to Africa to continue project-based collaboration through the Reciprocal Exchange Component.

Mandela Washington Fellowship Eligibility.

Applicants will not be discriminated against on the basis of race, color, gender, religion, socio-economic status, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity.  The Fellows, who are between the ages of 25 and 35, have established records of accomplishment in promoting innovation and positive impact in their organizations, institutions, communities, and countries.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship is open to young African leaders who meet the following criteria:

  • Are between the ages of 25 and 35 on or before the application deadline, although exceptional applicants ages 21-24 will be considered;
  • Are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the United States;
  • Are eligible to receive a United States J-1 visa;
  • Are not employees or immediate family members of employees of the U.S. Government (including a U.S. embassy or consulate, USAID, and other U.S. Government entities);
  • Are proficient in reading, writing, and speaking English (applicants who are deaf should refer to the English Language instructions on the Resources page);
  • Are citizens 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, Eswatini, 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, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, or Zimbabwe;
  • Are residents of one of the above countries; and
  • Are not Alumni of the Mandela Washington Fellowship.

Please note that Fellows are not allowed to have dependents, including spouses and children, accompany them during the Fellowship. The U.S. Department of State and IREX reserve the right to verify all information included in the application.  In the event of a discrepancy, or if information is found to be false, the application will immediately be declared invalid and the applicant ineligible.

Mandela Washington Fellowship Benefits.

This is an unparalleled opportunity to…

  • Participate in a six-week Leadership Institute at a U.S. college or
    university to share your experiences with and to learn from
    Americans and other Fellows.
  • Explore industries beyond your daily work and expand your expertise.
  • Attend a Summit with young African leaders in Washington, D.C.
  • Meet with U.S. Government, civic, and business leaders.
  • Strengthen your work through new connections, skills, and ideas.
  • Join a continental and global Alumni network to help you seek innovative solutions to common challenges.

Mandela Washington Fellowship Selection Criteria.

The following criteria will be used to evaluate applications (not in order of importance):

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

Mandela Washington Fellowship Timelines.

  • September 12, 2019 | Application opens
  • October 9, 2019 | Application deadline
  • December 2019 – February 2020 | Semifinalists interviewed by local U.S. embassies and consulates
  • Late March 2020 | Applicants are notified of their status
  • May 2020 | Visa processing and Pre-Departure Orientations for Finalists
  • Mid-June 2020 | Fellowship begins in the United States

How to Apply for Mandela Washington Fellowship.

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.

Apply Here Official Link


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