Apply to Host a Leadership Institute in 2021

IREX, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of State, seeks a limited number of partners to host young African leaders for a six-week executive-style leadership and professional development program.

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Promoting Food Security Through Hydroponics

How Indiana entrepreneur Scott Massey utilized networks he developed in Togo and Cameroon during Reciprocal Exchanges to fight food insecurity.

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Introducing the 2020 Leadership Impact Award Winner

Meet Ibrahima Kalil Gueye, 2018 Fellowship Alumnus, and learn how he is creating strategic solutions to address corruption throughout Guinea.

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Entrepreneurs in Africa save the day for Iowa interns

University of Iowa arranges last-minute summer work experiences for students with Fellowship Alumni.

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Celebrating #ADA30

Since the inception of the Fellowship, disability inclusion has been a high priority, with 5% of the Fellowship’s nearly 4,400 Alumni self-identifying as having a disability.

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The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), which is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. The Fellowship brings young leaders to the United States for academic coursework and leadership training and creates unique opportunities for Fellows and Americans to collaborate as they spur economic growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance, and enhance peace and security across Africa and the United States.

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The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is a program of the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government and administered by IREX.

Program Impact

  • 49

    Fellows have come from all 49 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
    Sub-Saharan African Countries
  • 4,400

    Since 2014, nearly 4,400 Fellowship Alumni have completed the program.
    Mandela Washington Fellowship Alumni Network
  • 2,300

    Since 2014, the program has engaged more than 2,300 institutions from the private, nonprofit, governmental, and multilateral sectors across the United States during Institutes, PDEs, Reciprocal Exchanges, and the Summit.
    Companies and Organziations Engaged
  • 39,000

    Since 2016, Fellows have dedicated more than 39,000 hours of service to support U.S. communities during their Leadership Institutes.
    Hours of Support Dedicated to U.S. Communities


Alumni Reflection on Givitas

One of the biggest wins from the Mandela Washington Fellowship has been the network of leaders across the continent. I have benefited immensely from the networks I developed at my...

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What is Leadership: Lessons from Laura Lane

September 23, 2020


Moving Forward Together: Servant Leadership During Crisis

September 16, 2020

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How are you contributing to the next generation of African Leaders?

“I believe that the Mandela Washington Fellowship has made me a stronger and better leader and has challenged me to think outside the box… There can only be more, bigger, and better to come from me, my fellow Fellows, and the continent of Africa as a whole.”
– Mandela Washington Fellowship Alumuna

The application period for the 2020 Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders has closed. Check out the 2020 Fellowship Application timeline and process, eligibility information, and more by clicking here. We can't wait to meet the next Mandela Washington Fellows!

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  • October 9, 2019

    Application closed

  • Oct - Nov 2019

    Application review

  • Dec 2019 - Feb 2020

    Semifinalists interviewed by local U.S. embassies and consulates

  • Late March 2020

    Applicants are notified of their status

  • May 2020

    Finalist visa processing and Pre-Departure Orientations

  • Mid-June 2020

    Fellowship begins in the United States