YALI Mandela Washington Fellowship 2019 for Young African Leaders (Fully Funded to the USA)

Application Deadline: October 10th 2018

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 2019, the Fellowship will provide 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 2018, Fellows represented a diverse group of leaders from 48 countries across Sub-Saharan Africa. Twenty five Fellows identified as having a disability, and 51 percent of Fellows were women.Eligibility Requirements: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 ages 21-24 will be considered.
  • Are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the United States.
  • 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 a U.S. Embassy or Consulate, USAID, and other U.S. Government entities).
  • Are proficient in reading, writing, and speaking English. Applicants who are deaf should consult the Application Instructions for more information.
  • 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, Eswatini, 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, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

U.S.-based activities

Leadership Institutes: Each Mandela Washington Fellow takes part in a six-week Leadership Institute at a U.S. college or university in one of three tracks: Business, Civic Engagement, or Public Management. The intensive model includes linkages between academic sessions, site visits, professional networking opportunities, leadership training, community service, and organized cultural activities.

Mandela Washington Fellowship Summit: Following the academic component of the Fellowship, the Fellows visit Washington, D.C., for a Summit featuring networking and panel discussions with U.S. leaders from the public, private, and non-profit sectors.

Professional Development Experience: Seventy selected Fellows remain in the United States to participate in a four-week Professional Development Experience with U.S. non-governmental organizations, private companies, and governmental agencies that relate to their professional interests and goals. The PDE is designed to give Fellows practical training and the opportunity to learn transferable skills, expand their professional networks, and apply concepts learned at their Institutes to real-world situations in the U.S. context.

Africa-based activities

Upon returning to their home countries, Fellows continue to build the skills they have developed during their time in the United States through support from U.S. embassies, four Regional Leadership Centers, the YALI Network, and customized programming from USAID, the Department of State, and affiliated partners. Through these experiences, select Mandela Washington Fellows have access to ongoing professional development opportunities, mentoring, networking and training, and support for their ideas, businesses, and organizations. Fellows may also apply for their American partners to travel to Africa to continue project-based collaboration through the Reciprocal Exchange Component.

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, 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 of, interest in, and professional experience in the preferred sector/track.
  • 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.


September 12, 2018 | Application opens
October 10, 2018 | Application closes
December 2018 – February 2019 | Semifinalists interviewed by local U.S. embassies and consulates
Late March 2019 | Applicants are notified of their status
May 2019 | Visa processing and Pre-Departure Orientations for finalists
Mid-June 2019 | Fellowship begins in the United States

For More Information:

Visit the Official Webpage of the YALI Mandela Washington Fellowship 2019


  1. I am a young man of age 31, I was born at Cape Coast on 29 December 1986 . My passion is to see to it that children between the ages of 7 to 15 have better education since they find it very easy to consume much at this stage . This passion of my grew when I was offering my national service in a village here in Ghana called Odembo in Central Region.I personally organized an extra studies for them because the parents were not prepared to pay. I believe with your help I can do much better.Hope to hear from you soon.

  2. Education is powerful vehicule for developement and one of the best ways to reduce poverty, raise health levels Promote. The YALI programme is a boon for African youth to strengten thier capacity-building links on the Community scale.
    Best Regards.
    Consultant Developement Pôles
    Central Africa Republic(CAR)

  3. I am a young man of age 30, from the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire. I am a Chartered Accountancy professional and my preferred track is Leadership in Business.
    I am currently working with a solar energy company as the Financial and Administrative Manager.
    I am also working on a project of creation of rice production units in my community, and I would like to emplement this project up to 2019.
    My long term goal is to create my own company and help my community to be economically independent.For my dream is to become a Leader in Business and fight against poverty in the world.
    To conclude, I would like to congratulate the initiators of YALI for these opportunities they are giving to the African youth: opportunities to make a better Africa. And this mission is in our hands.

  4. Hello, I’m was born at Conakry capital of Guinea on 19 December 1995 , I am 22 years old, I like study to improve my knowledge, I dream to be a famous because I love helping people . I know that, it isn’t easy to be poor that’s my status and I don’t speak English friendly because I live in French country but I promise to speak it. So need your hand to fulfill my dream towards my country . I thank you for your bravely

  5. I Am Rita Amadin, a girl of 27years of age, from Benin city in Nigeria. Am passionate about taking care of people’s health and seeing people into good we’ll being, And I always make sure about this through the little knowledge I have acquired from secondary education since I couldn’t futher up my education as a result of finance and health challenge. I have a big dream on taking care of people’s health and environment and I can enhance on these if I can get financial support and opportunity to enhance my skills and knowledge, that’s why am somuch interested in the free scholarship by the USA If I can be considered to have this support.
    Although have be participating with other young African learders in organising programs of empowerment and improving people’s lives , amongst which are suicide not an option, environmental sanitation, vegetation improvements e.t.c.

  6. Bonsoir je suis Rodrigue ACAKPOVI Nutritionniste , Techniciens Audio Visuel suis actuellement sans emploi j’aimerais participé aussi à la session YALI internationale

  7. I like this program because it educate young African people to ba a good leadership in his or her country.Many young people in Africa did not know how to be a good leader in the place they live so this program it lead young african people to know how to live with other people inorder to achieve his or her goals.

  8. Hello, i was purchasing some research when i fell on this great opportunity and I wish to be part.


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