YALI Mandela Washington Fellowship 2022 for Young African Leaders

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The YALI Mandela Washington Fellowship will bring up to 700 young leaders to the United States in the summer of 2022 for a comprehensive executive-style program that is designed to build skills and empower Fellows to lead in their respective sectors and communities.

Application Deadline: 15th September 2021

Eligible Countries: Sub-Saharan African countries

To be taken at (country): U.S.A

About the Award:  The Mandela Washington Fellowships for Young African Leaders empowers young people through academic coursework, leadership training, and networking. The Fellowship will provide up to 700 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.

The YALI Mandela Washington Fellowship

Type: 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 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.

Number of Awardees: Up to 700

Selection Process and Criteria: The Mandela Washington Fellowship selection process is a merit-based open competition. After the deadline, all eligible applications will be reviewed by a selection panel. Following this review, chosen semifinalists will be interviewed by the U.S. embassies or consulates in their home countries. If advanced to the semi-finalist round, applicants must provide a copy of their international passport (if available) or other government-issued photo identification at the time of the interview. Selection panels will use the following criteria to evaluate applications (not in order of importance):

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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.

Value of Fellowship: 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.

Mandela Washington Fellows will also have access to ongoing professional development opportunities, mentoring, networking and training, and support for their ideas, businesses, and organizations.

How to Apply: Download the 2020 Fellowship Application Instructions.

It is important to visit the official website (link below) for detailed information on how to apply for this Fellowship.

Visit YALI Mandela Fellowship Webpage for Details

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

I cannot afford to pay an application fee.  How should I apply?

There is no fee to apply for the Mandela Washington Fellowship.

The application instructions say all answers must be my “own, original work.” What does that mean?

All answers must be your own ideas and in your own words.  Be certain not to plagiarize, which is taking someone else’s work or ideas and presenting them as your own.  If you use another person’s writing, ideas, words, or materials, you must credit the source.  Do not cut and paste ideas from the internet or other sources.  Plagiarism is strictly forbidden at many organizations and academic institutions in the United States, and those who plagiarize their application materials will be disqualified.  This also includes using the wording from another applicant or Fellowship Alumni in your application.  The U.S. Department of State and IREX will be checking all applications for plagiarism.  For more information, please visit the Plagiarism.org website.

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