Fully Funded Mandela Washington Fellowship program 2019 for Young African Leaders to US and How to Apply
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 2019 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: Fellows are placed in groups of 25 at leading colleges and universities across the United States, in both urban and rural areas, that represent the diversity of American higher education. Institutes, which will take place from mid-June to late July 2019, will focus on skills development in one of three themes: Leadership in Business, Leadership in Civic Engagement, or Leadership in Public Management. The intensive six-week model uses leadership development as the framework to create links between academic sessions, a strengths-based Common Leadership Curriculum, site visits, community service, and cultural activities. Fellows in all three themes will gain theoretical knowledge and practical skills that can be applied in or adapted to African contexts. Although all Institutes will include common components, each program agenda is unique and is based on the particular strengths and resources of the host institution.
- A Summit in Washington, D.C.: At the conclusion of the Leadership Institutes, all Fellows will participate in a high-level Summit where they will participate in a variety of sessions. They will have the opportunity to network with each other and with U.S. leaders from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. The Summit will take place in late July or early August 2019.
- An optional four-week Professional Development Experience: As part of the Fellowship application, individuals may apply to participate in a Professional Development Experience (PDE) at an NGO, business, and government agency throughout the United States. 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. The placements will relate to each Fellow’s professional sector but are typically not an exact match to their current position at home. Rather, it is an opportunity to introduce Fellows to new perspectives in their fields, to deepen their awareness and understanding of issues present in both their home countries and the United States, and to learn best practices that can be applied to their work at home. Professional Development Experiences will be intensive and demanding, and selected Fellows will be placed independently at organizations across the United States. Up to 70 Fellows will be competitively selected for the Professional Development Experience. Selected Fellows must be available to be in the United States for a total of approximately 11 weeks (the Leadership Institute, the Summit, and the placement with a U.S.-based organization).
- Activities in Africa: Fellows will have access to networking opportunities, ongoing professional development, and volunteer opportunities upon their return home after the Fellowship.
The Mandela Washington Fellowship is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government and administered by IREX.
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 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 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 consult the Application Instructions for more information.
- 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, 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, and Zimbabwe.
Mandela Washington Fellowship Benefits.
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 domestic U.S. 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; and
- 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.
Apply now to become one of 700 Young African Leaders to participate in this fully-funded program.
Mandela Washington Fellowship Selection Criteria.
The Mandela Washington Fellowship is conducted as a merit-based open competition. After the deadline, all eligible applications will be reviewed by independent readers. Following this review, 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.
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, 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 of, interest in, and professional experience in the preferred sector/track.
- 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, 2018 | Application opens
- October 10, 2018 | Application closes
- December 2018 – February 2019 | Semifinalists interviewed by local U.S. embassies and consulates
- Late March 2019 | Applicants are notified of their status
- May 2019 | Visa processing and Pre-Departure Orientations for finalists
- Mid-June 2019 | Fellowship begins in the United States
How to Apply.
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.