President Obama’s Mandela Washington Fellowship For Young African Leaders 2017

The Mandela Washington Fellowship For Young African Leaders 2016

On July 28, 2014, in front of the inaugural class of Fellows, President Obama announced the renaming of the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders in honor of Nelson Mandela. The Mandela Washington Fellowships for Young African Leaders is the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI).

The Mandela Washington Fellowships for Young African Leaders empowers young people through academic coursework, leadership training, and networking. It is not designed to help Fellows identify funding for projects or organizations.

In 2017, the Fellowship will provide up to 1,000 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 Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders

Course(s) Offered: Leadership
Course Level: Fellowship (Training)
Provider: USA Government, YALI
Country to Study in: USA

Applicants will NOT be discriminated against on the basis of race, color, gender, religion, socio-economic status, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity. TheMandela 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 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 not employees or immediate family members of employees of the U.S. government (including the U.S. Embassy, USAID, and other U.S. government entities).
  • Are proficient in reading, writing, and speaking English.
  • Are citizens and residents of any one of the eligible countries listed below (please see Eligible groups below).
  • Are not alumni of the Mandela Washington Fellowships.

Please note: Fellows are not allowed to have dependents (including spouses and children) accompany them during the Fellowship.

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 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.

Eligible groups
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.

Fields of study
Involves intensive leadership training, academic coursework, networking, and skills building at U.S. a college or university with support for professional development after returning home. May participate in internships in the public, private and non-profit sectors with organizations throughout the United States.

Number of awards
At least 1000 Fellows will be selected

Scholarship benefits
The U.S. State Department covers all costs involved in participating in the Mandela Washington Fellowship. That includes the costs of applying for a visa, round-trip airfare for travel between the United States and your home country, living and travel costs during the fellowship, six-week academic and leadership institute, concluding Summit in Washington, DC, accident and sickness benefit plan, housing and meals during the program, and an optional six-week Professional Development Experience for up to 100 Fellows

Please note: the Fellowship will not cover salary while Fellows are away from work or funds for personal purchases such as gifts.

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.

Method of Application
Applications must be completed online at If you are a new applicant, or applied in either 2014, 2015 or 2016, you must begin a new registration process for the 2017 Fellowship. If you have already started a 2017 application, simply sign into the application portal and complete your application.

It is important to visit the official website (link to it is below) for complete information on how to apply for this Fellowship.

The deadline for applications for the Mandela Washington Fellowship is 4:00 PM GMT on Wednesday, October 26, 2016.

Applications not meeting the technical eligibility requirements will not be forwarded to the selection committee. If you do not meet the technical eligibility requirements for this program, we invite you to visit for information on other U.S. Department of State exchange opportunities.

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 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.

Application Deadline: 26 October 2016
Open to International Applicants: No (ONLY Africans)

More Scholarship Information and Application


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  2. This is Zigiju Mekonnen

    October 20, 2015 at 4:39 AM

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  3. Gatluak riak toang

    October 20, 2015 at 11:42 AM

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    • Abiote Seid Aragaw

      October 23, 2015 at 9:08 PM

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  8. mikiyas aragew engeda

    October 22, 2015 at 8:20 AM

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  18. Dereje Anduanbessa Assayew

    October 25, 2015 at 11:37 PM

    I am Dereje Assayew, age 30. Graduate student in Ed. leadership and Management at Addis Ababa University. And so interested on this Mandela Foundation Fellowship

  19. Sahardid Hashi

    October 26, 2015 at 10:25 AM

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  20. my name is baradin mohammed

    October 27, 2015 at 7:24 AM

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    October 27, 2015 at 9:54 AM

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    • getachew

      October 27, 2015 at 12:41 PM


  23. Mesfin

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  27. Ebenezer Asrat Worku

    November 2, 2015 at 9:11 AM

    dear fellows,I am from Ethiopia lives in capital city addis abeba. I graduated from arbaminch university in civil engineering and i am 24 years old. even though i study engineering, i have a great ambition to serve my people with a very good leadership transparently. I can see it’s time for Africa to awake from deep sleep. if i get the chance to be one of young African leaders at Mandela Washington fellowship i will be committed to be in Africa and take part in all aspects faithfully for the benefit of society. Thank you.

  28. Hamza

    November 14, 2015 at 11:51 AM

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  32. Tesfaye Adugna

    September 29, 2016 at 12:57 PM

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    October 21, 2016 at 8:39 AM

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