The Mandela Washington Fellowships in USA for Young African Leaders (700+ Awards Available!)

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders

Course(s) Offered: Leadership
Course Level: Fellowship (Training)
Provider: USA Government, YALI
Country to Study in: USA

Scholarship Description
On July 28, 2014, in front of the inaugural class of Fellows, President Obama announced the renaming of the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders in honor of Nelson Mandela. The Mandela Washington Fellowships for Young African Leaders is the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI).

The Mandela Washington Fellowships for Young African Leaders empowers young people through academic coursework, leadership training, and networking. It is not designed to help Fellows identify funding for projects or organizations.

The Fellowship provided up thousands of 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.

Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders

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 not employees or immediate family members of employees of the U.S. government (including the U.S. Embassy, USAID, and other U.S. government entities).
  • Are proficient in reading, writing, and speaking English.
  • Are citizens and residents of any one of the eligible countries listed below (please see Eligible groups below).
  • Are not alumni of the Mandela Washington Fellowships.
Please note: Fellows are not allowed to have dependents (including spouses and children) accompany them during the Fellowship.

Selection criteria:
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.
Eligible groups
Citizens and residents of one of the following countries:
Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape 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.

Fields of study
Involves intensive leadership training, academic coursework, networking, and skills building at U.S. a college or university with support for professional development after returning home. May participate in internships in the public, private and non-profit sectors with organizations throughout the United States.

Number of awards
At least 700 Fellows will be selected for the fellowship

Scholarship benefits
The U.S. State Department covers all costs involved in participating in the Mandela Washington Fellowship. That includes the costs of applying for a visa, round-trip airfare for travel between the United States and your home country, living and travel costs during the fellowship, 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.

Through this initiative, young African leaders are gaining the skills and connections they need to accelerate their own career trajectories and contribute more robustly to strengthening democratic institutions, spurring economic growth, and enhancing peace and security in Africa.

Method of Application
Applications must be completed online at If you are a new applicant, or applied in previous years you must begin a new registration process for the 2020 Fellowship. If you have already started a 2020 application, simply sign into the application portal and complete your application.

It is important read the 2020 Application Instructions, and also to visit the official website (link to it is below) for complete information on how to apply for this Fellowship.

Applications open 12 September 2019. The deadline for applications submission for the Mandela Washington Fellowship is 4:00 PM GMT on Wednesday, October 9, 2019.

Applications not meeting the technical eligibility requirements will not be forwarded to the selection committee. If you do not meet the technical eligibility requirements for this program, we invite you to visit for information on other U.S. Department of State exchange opportunities.

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. 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.

Application Deadline: 9 October 2019
Open to International Applicants: No (ONLY Africans)

More Scholarship Information and Application

Related: Scholarships in the USA for International Students

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