Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders

Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). The Fellowship brings young leaders to the United States for academic coursework and leadership training and creates unique opportunities for Fellows and Americans to collaborate and as they spur growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance, and enhance peace and security across Africa and the United States.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). The Fellowship brings young leaders to the United States for academic coursework and leadership training and creates unique opportunities for Fellows and Americans to collaborate and as they spur growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance, and enhance peace and security across Africa and the United States.

Sponsor

US flag and seal of the US Department of State`

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. 

Quick Facts

  • The network of Mandela Washington Fellows includes nearly 4,400 alumni and 700 Fellows arriving in 2020. To date, the Fellowship has received more than 250,000 applications.
  • Fellows are recruited through an open call for applications for candidates between the ages of 25 and 35 across all 49 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Fellows have established records of accomplishment in promoting innovation and positive change in their organizations, institutions, and communities.
  • Since the Fellowship’s inception, IREX has partnered with more than 450 institutions from the private, nonprofit, governmental, and multilateral sectors in the United States and Africa.
  • Upon returning home, Fellows continue to build the skills and connections developed during their time in the  United States through access to ongoing professional development, networking, and collaboration opportunities with support from the U.S. Department of State and affiliated partners.

Impact at a Glance

  • From 2016 to 2018, Fellows contributed more than 30,000 hours of community service to U.S. organizations.
  • Serving as a host institution supports partners in forging and building on existing strategic relationships. 93% of 2018 host institutions said their participation in the Fellowship was influential in forming new relationships or partnerships with private companies.  
  • From 2014 to 2018, Fellows connected with more than 30,000 Americans in their Institutes’ communities and visited more than 2,500 organizations.
  • More than 77% of Fellows have reported sustained relationships with other Fellows to foster a strong network across 49 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Fellows have completed nearly 347,000 hours of workforce development training through the Professional Development Experience and practicum placements in the United States and Africa. 
  • Between 2014 and 2018, the Fellowship reached nearly 4,400 young African leaders directly. In turn, they have gone on to touch more than 45 million people through their businesses and non-profits.
  • 85% of Fellows who own a business saw an increase in their revenue in the year after participating in the Fellowship.
  • Between 2014 and 2017, more than a third of Fellows stated that they gained employment or got better employment because of their participation in the Fellowship, either through promotions, improved work performance, or greater recognition.
  • Prior to the Fellowship, less than 25% of 2018 Fellows had professional contacts in the United States. After the program, over 95% of 2018 Fellows plan to engage with U.S. professionals they networked with during their exchange.

Goals

The Mandela Washington Fellowship will:

  • Invest in a new generation of young African leaders who are shaping the continent’s future.
  • Respond to the strong demand by young African leaders for practical skills that can help them take their work to the next level in the fields of public service and business.
  • Deepen partnerships and connections between the United States and Africa.
  • Build a prestigious network of young African leaders who are at the forefront of change and innovation in their respective sectors.
I have been introduced to new concepts of leadership such as strategic leadership, servant leadership, and shared leadership... I now have a clear sense of what leadership entails and how to apply it to my work and activities of volunteerism, especially when working with diverse groups of people in order to achieve a common goal. 2017 Mandela Washington Fellow

Project Activities

The Mandela Washington Fellowship includes:

  • Leadership Institutes: Each Mandela Washington Fellow takes part in a six-week Leadership Institute at a U.S. educational institution in one of three tracks: Business, Civic Engagement, or Public Management.
  • Mandela Washington Fellowship Summit in Washington, DC: Following the academic residency of the Fellowship, Fellows visit Washington, DC for the Mandela Washington Fellowship Summit. During this multi-day event, Fellows take part in networking and panel discussions with each other and U.S. leaders from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.
  • Professional Development Experience: Up to 70 competitively-selected Fellows remain in the United States after the Summit to participate in individually tailored four-week professional development experiences. Fellows are placed in U.S. non-governmental organizations, private companies, and government agencies that relate to their professional interests and goals.
  • Reciprocal Exchange: Reciprocal Exchanges provide Americans with opportunities to travel to Africa, building upon strategic partnerships and professional connections developed with Fellows during their time in the United States. Through these projects, Americans and young African leaders form lasting partnerships, expand markets and networks, and increase mutual understanding between the United States and countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Opportunities for Alumni: Upon returning home, Fellows continue to build the skills and connections developed during their time in the  United States through access to ongoing professional development, networking, and collaboration opportunities with support from the U.S. Department of State and affiliated partners. Fellows may also apply for their American partners to travel to Africa to continue project-based collaboration through the Reciprocal Exchange component.

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