On July 28, 2014, in front of 500 exceptional young leaders, President Obama announced the renaming of the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders in honor of Nelson Mandela. He also announced that the United States intends to double the number of annual participants in the Mandela Washington Fellowship to 1000 by the summer of 2016.
The Mandela Washington Fellowship is the flagship program of the President’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) and embodies President Obama’s commitment to invest in the future of Africa.
The first class of Mandela Washington Fellows arrived in June 2014 for six weeks of intensive executive leadership training, networking, and skills building, followed by a Presidential Summit in Washington, DC. 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.
The 2014 Class of the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders.
- Selected from nearly 50,000 applications, the 500 Mandela Washington Fellows represent the extraordinary promise of an emerging generation of entrepreneurs, activists, and public officials.
- Mandela Washington Fellows are between 25 and 35 years old; have proven track records of leadership in a public, private, or civic organization; and demonstrate a strong commitment to contributing their skills and talents to building and serving their communities.
- The first class of Fellows represents all 49 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and includes equal numbers of men and women.
- Despite their youth, more than 75 percent of Fellows already hold a mid-level or executive position, and 48 percent have a graduate degree.
- Twenty-five percent of Fellows currently work in a non-governmental institution and 39 percent of them operate their own business.
- Nearly all Fellows are the first in their families to visit the United States.