2016 Mandela Washington Fellowship

President Barack Obama at the Young African Leaders Initiative Presidential Summit, Washington, DC, August 3, 2015. Photo by D.A. Peterson/State Dept.
YALI Poster
YALI Poster

The United States Embassy in Niamey, Niger is pleased to announce the opening of the on-line application for the 2016 Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders (YALI). The application will close on November 11, 2015. The Mandela Washington Fellowship is an outstanding opportunity for 1,000 young African leaders to travel to the United States in June 2016 for a six-week program hosted at one of over 30 prestigious U.S. universities, and to participate in a conference in Washington, D.C. hosted by President Barack Obama.

Apply at https://yali.state.gov/

Background on the YALI Washington Fellowship

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.

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. In 2015, Fellows represented all 49 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Fifty percent of Fellows were women; Twenty seven of the 2015 Mandela Washington Fellows have self-identified as having a disability.

U.S.-Based Activities

Academic and Leadership Institutes: Each Mandela Washington Fellow takes part in a six-week academic and leadership Institute at a U.S. university or college in one of three tracks: business and entrepreneurship, civic leadership, or public management.

Presidential Summit: Following the academic component of the Fellowship, the Fellows visit Washington, D.C., for a Presidential summit featuring a town hall with President Obama. During the three-day event, Fellows take part in networking and panel discussions with U.S. leaders from the public, private, and non-profit sectors.

Professional Development Experience: 100 selected Fellows remain in the United States to participate in a six-week professional development experience with U.S. non-governmental organizations, private companies, and governmental agencies that relate to their professional interests and goals.

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 and affiliated partners. Through these experiences, Mandela Washington Fellows have access to ongoing professional development opportunities, mentoring, networking and training, and seed funding to support their ideas, businesses, and organizations.

Criteria for Selection

  • 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;
  • A demonstrated knowledge, interest, and professional experience in the sector/track selected;
  • An energetic, positive attitude; and
  • A commitment to return to Africa and apply leadership skills and training to benefit the applicant’s country, community, or school after they return home

Eligibility

The Mandela Washington Fellowship is open to young African leaders who meet the following criteria:

  • Are Citizens of and residents in a sub-Saharan African country;
  • 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 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;
  • Are proficient in reading, writing, and speaking English; and
  • Are not alumni of the Mandela Washington Fellowship.

The application will collect basic information and will include questions regarding applicants’ professional and academic experience including professional background; educational background; honors and awards received; extracurricular and volunteer activities; and English language proficiency. As part of the application, applicants will also be asked to provide written responses to personal statements (essay questions). Additional elements, such as letters of recommendation or university transcripts, are optional and may supplement your application.

Application Timeline

  • October 1, 2015 Application opens
  • November 11, 2015 Application deadline
  • January-February 2016 Semifinalists interviewed by local U.S. embassies and consulates
  • March 2016 Applicants are notified of their status
  • April – May 2016 Visa processing for finalists
  • June 2016 Fellowship begins in the United States

Additional Information

For additional details, please contact the U.S. Embassy Information Office at: NigerYALI@state.gov