Mandela Washington Fellowship 2020 for Young African Leaders

Are you interested in being a part of the next generation of African leaders?

The Mandela Washington Fellowship will bring up to 700 young leaders to the United States in the summer of 2020 for a comprehensive executive-style program that is designed to build skills and empower Fellows to lead in their respective sectors and communities.


Leadership Institutes

The Mandela Washington Fellowship Leadership Institutes are comprehensive executive-style programs designed to build skills and empower Fellows to lead in their respective sectors and communities through the themes of Business, Civic Engagement, and Public Management.  Since 2014, educational institutions in 32 states and the District of Columbia have hosted Fellows for Leadership Institutes. 

The six-week Institutes, held on college and university campuses, support the development of Fellows’ leadership skills through academic study, workshops, mentoring, networking with U.S. leaders, and collaboration with Americans.  Each Institute also offers insights into American society through site visits and cultural exchange.  The Institutes strengthen connections between the United States and Africa and establish enduring partnerships between Fellows, local communities, and private businesses. 

Leadership in Business 

Leadership in Business Institutes are tailored to Fellows aspiring to become leaders in the private sector or to start their own business ventures in Africa.  The Institutes introduce participants to business and entrepreneurial approaches in the United States, including those that address social issues. Institutes also help Fellows build technical and leadership capacity in areas such as innovation and technology, business plan development, financial management, business ethics, the intersection of business with civil society and government, and the role of public-private partnerships.
Institutions that hosted 2019 Leadership in Business Institutes included: 
– Clark Atlanta University - Atlanta, Georgia
– Drake University - Des Moines, Iowa
– Lehigh University - Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
– Northwestern University - Evanston, Illinois
– Oklahoma State University - Stillwater, Oklahoma
– Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - New Brunswick, New Jersey
– University of Iowa - Iowa City, Iowa
– University of Nevada, Reno - Reno, Nevada
– University of Notre Dame - South Bend, Indiana
– The University of Texas at Austin - Austin, Texas

Leadership in Civic Engagement

Leadership in Civic Engagement Institutes are tailored to Fellows who are civically engaged and serving the public through non-governmental organizations, community-based organizations, or volunteerism.  The Institutes expose Fellows to civic engagement in the United States while building technical and leadership capacity in areas such as advocacy, strategic planning, organizational development, and the intersection of civil society with business and government.   
Institutions that hosted 2019 Leadership in Civic Engagement Institutes included: 
– Appalachian State University - Boone, North Carolina
– Drexel University - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
– Indiana University - Bloomington, Indiana
– Kansas State University - Manhattan, Kansas
– The Presidential Precinct (consortium with the University of Virginia and the College of William & Mary) - Charlottesville, Virginia
– Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - New Brunswick, New Jersey
– University of Delaware - Newark, Delaware
– University of Georgia - Athens, Georgia
– University of Nebraska-Lincoln - Lincoln, Nebraska

Leadership in Public Management

Leadership in Public Management Institutes are tailored to Fellows who work, or aspire to work, in all levels of government, regional or international organizations, or other publicly-oriented groups and think tanks.  The Institutes introduce Fellows to U.S. models and best practices in public management while building technical and leadership capacity in areas such as citizen engagement, resource management, financial management systems, and the intersection of government with business and civil society. 
Institutions that hosted 2019 Leadership in Public Management Institutes included: 
– Arizona State University - Phoenix, Arizona
– Boise State University - Boise, Idaho
– Bridgewater State University - Bridgewater, Massachusetts
– Georgia State University - Atlanta, Georgia
– Syracuse University - Syracuse, New York
– Texas Tech University - Lubbock, Texas
– University of California, Davis - Davis, California
– University of Wisconsin-Madison - Madison, Wisconsin
– Virginia Tech - Alexandria, Virginia

Common Leadership Curriculum

The Common Leadership Curriculum (CLC) provides a common leadership experience so that all Fellows have a shared language and a foundational knowledge to build upon as they return to their home countries.  The CLC is guided by the perspective that leadership is not related to an individual’s professional level, but rather to their behavior and actions in whatever position they hold.  It incorporates both a strengths-based approach – including the use of the CliftonStrengths® assessment which focuses on an individual’s natural talents in work and life – and the concept of Ubuntu. The curriculum uses active learning methods to give Fellows practical tools they can apply regardless of their sector interest or level of professional experience.  Fellows return home with an initial action plan and strategies for leveraging their talents to effectively lead and contribute to their local communities.     

This is an unparalleled opportunity to…

  • Participate in a six-week Leadership Institute at a U.S. college or
    university to share your experiences with and to learn from
    Americans and other Fellows.
  • Explore industries beyond your daily work and expand your expertise.
  • Attend a Summit with young African leaders in Washington, D.C.
  • Meet with U.S. Government, civic, and business leaders.
  • Strengthen your work through new connections, skills, and ideas.
  • Join a continental and global Alumni network to help you seek innovative solutions to common challenges.

Application Timeline

  • September 12, 2019 | Application opens
  • October 9, 2019 | Application deadline
  • December 2019 – February 2020 | Semifinalists interviewed by local U.S. embassies and consulates
  • Late March 2020 | Applicants are notified of their status
  • May 2020 | Visa processing and Pre-Departure Orientations for Finalists
  • Mid-June 2020 | Fellowship begins in the United States

“This is an experience of a lifetime. The [Fellowship] has provided a medium for interacting and networking with each other, sharing our dreams and aspirations… I am so privileged to be a part of this generation that will foster change for the betterment of our families, communities, cities, countries, and Africa.”


Application and Selection Process

Selection Process and Criteria

The Mandela Washington Fellowship selection process is a merit-based open competition.  After the deadline, all eligible applications will be reviewed by independent readers.  Following this review, chosen semi-finalists will be interviewed by the U.S. embassies or consulates in their home countries.  Selected semi-finalists will be required to participate in these in-person interviews in their home country within Africa.  If advanced to the semi-finalist round, applicants must provide a copy of their international passport (if available) or other government-issued photo identification at the time of the interview.  Selected Finalists are required to attend the mandatory Pre-Departure Orientation in their home country within Africa.

Who is eligible to apply?

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 on or before the application deadline, 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 refer to the English Language instructions on the Resources page);
  • Are citizens 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, or Zimbabwe;
  • Are residents of one of the above countries; and
  • Are not Alumni of the Mandela Washington Fellowship.

Please note that Fellows are not allowed to have dependents, including spouses and children, accompany them during the Fellowship. The U.S. Department of State and IREX reserve the right to verify all information included in the application.  In the event of a discrepancy, or if information is found to be false, the application will immediately be declared invalid and the applicant ineligible.

What are the criteria for selection?

The following criteria will be used to evaluate applications (not in order of importance):

  • A proven record of leadership and accomplishment in business, civic engagement, or public service;
  • A demonstrated commitment to public or community service, volunteerism, or mentorship;
  • The ability to work cooperatively in diverse groups and to respect the opinions of others;
  • Strong social and communication skills;
  • An energetic, positive attitude;
  • A demonstrated knowledge of, interest in, and professional experience in the preferred sector/track; and
  • 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.

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  1. Hi dear
    My name is Ali Adam I am 25 years old , i am form Sudan country , and I study at university some class in department of veterinary medicine , and I care about developed and improve the my population especially the young , I have take some course in computer and Microsoft office , and carefull about developing my self to exchange the cultural throughout the world . I hop to success in this scholarships . Thank you for you time

    Ali Adam

  2. I m ..
    currently studying Pharmacy of the University of Expatriates and Dyer Ahwal medicine.

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