2015 Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders (Fully Funded Fellowship, Washington USA)

Application Deadline: November 5 2014

Applications for the 2015 Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders will open on October 7, 2014. The Mandela Washington Fellowship is the flagship program of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). 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 Mandela Washington Fellowship, which began in 2014, will bring 500 young leaders to the United States in 2015 for academic coursework and leadership training and will create unique opportunities in Africa for Fellows to put new skills to practical use in leading organizations, communities, and countries.

Eligibility Criteria

Competition for the Washington Fellowship  is merit-based and 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; and
  • Are 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.

What are the criteria for selection?

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.


There is no fee to apply to the Washington Fellowship. If you are selected, 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 other required travel;
  • Customized academic and leadership institute;
  • Concluding Presidential Summit in Washington, DC;
  • Accident and sickness benefit plan;
  • Housing and meals; and
  • A potential eight-week internship at the conclusion of the academic and leadership institute (optional, and competitive for approximately 100 slots).

The Washington Fellowship includes:

  • A 6-week Academic and Leadership Institute: Fellows are placed at U.S. colleges and universities for  academic institutes. Institutes will focus on skills development in one of three areas: Business and  Entrepreneurship, Civic Leadership, or Public Management. Institutes will take place from mid-June  to late July 2014.
  • A Summit with President Obama in Washington, DC: At the conclusion of the academic and  leadership institute, all Fellows will participate in a Presidential Summit. The Summit will take place  in late July 2014.
  • An optional 8-week U.S. Internship: As part of the Fellowship application, individuals may apply to receive practical training at a U.S. business, civil society organization, or public agency in the United  States. Approximately 100 Washington Fellows will be selected for U.S.-based internships. The U.S.  internships will take place in August and September 2014.
  • Activities in Africa: Fellows will have the opportunity for continued networking opportunities,  ongoing professional development, access to seed funding, and community service activities upon  their return home after the Fellowship.

Mandela Washington Fellowship Application Process Timeline

October 7, 2014 Application opens
November 5, 2014 Application deadline
January – February 2015 Semifinalists interviewed by local U.S. embassies and consulates
April 2015 Applicants are notified of their status
May 2015 Visa processing for finalists
Mid-to-late June 2015 Fellowship begins in the United States


Apply Now for the 2015 Mandela Washington Fellowship

Read the Mandela Fellowship Application Instructions

For More Information:

Visit the Official Webpage of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders 


  1. […] The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, begun in 2014, is the flagship program of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) that empowers young people through academic coursework, leadership training, and networking. The Fellowship provides 1,000 outstanding young leaders from Sub-Saharan Africa with the opportunity to hone their skills at a U.S. higher education institution with support for professional development after they return home. […]


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