Deadline: October 11, 2017
Applications are now open for the 2018 Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, begun in 2014, is the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) that empowers young people through academic coursework, leadership training, and networking. In 2018, the Fellowship provides 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 impact in their organizations, institutions, communities, and countries. In 2017, Fellows represent a diverse group of leaders from 48 countries across Sub-Saharan Africa. Fifty-one Fellows identify as having a disability, and 50 percent of Fellows are women.
The Mandela Washington Fellowship includes:
- A six-week Academic and Leadership Institute: Fellows are placed at U.S. colleges and universities across the country and in both urban and rural areas. Institutes will focus on skills development in one of three areas: Business and Entrepreneurship, Civic Leadership, or Public Management. The intensive six-week Institute model includes linkages between academic sessions, leadership development, site visits, community service, networking, and organized cultural and civic activities. Fellows will gain both theoretical knowledge and practical skills, and the Institutes will take place from mid-June to late July 2018.
- A Summit in Washington, DC: At the conclusion of the Academic and Leadership Institutes, all Fellows will participate in a high-level, three-day Summit. During this event, Fellows participate in networking and panel discussions with each other and U.S. leaders from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. The Summit will take place in late July or early August 2018.
- 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. 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 United States 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.
- Activities in Africa: Fellows will have access to networking opportunities, ongoing professional development, and volunteer opportunities upon their return home after the 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.
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.
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.
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.
- September 13, 2017 Application opens
- October 11, 2017 Application closes
- January – February 2018 Semifinalists interviewed by local U.S. embassies and consulates
- Late March 2018 Applicants are notified of their status
- April – May 2018 Visa processing and Pre-Departure Orientations for finalists
- June 2018 Fellowship begins in the United States
For more information, visit Mandela Washington Fellowship.