Applications for 2022 Reciprocal Exchange Component Now Open

The U.S. Department of State and IREX are excited to announce that applications for the Reciprocal Exchange component are open until February 24.

About the Reciprocal Exchange 

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders—the flagship program of the U.S. Government’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI)—was created in 2014 to invest in the next generation of African leaders.  The Fellowship’s Reciprocal Exchange component provides U.S. professionals with the opportunity to implement collaborative projects to build upon strategic partnerships and professional connections developed during the Mandela Washington Fellowship.  The Reciprocal Exchange component provides funds for U.S. professionals to implement hybrid or virtual projects in sub-Saharan African countries to continue collaborative work with Mandela Washington Fellowship Alumni on the continent.  U.S. professionals may include those met during the Mandela Washington Fellowship through networking, the Summit, Professional Development Experiences, on Givitas, or through other activities.   

Award Goal 

The goal of the Reciprocal Exchange component of the Mandela Washington Fellowship is to provide opportunities for U.S. professionals and Fellowship Alumni to form lasting partnerships, expand markets and networks, and increase mutual understanding between the United States and countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

Award Objectives 

  • The Mandela Washington Fellowship will provide grants of up to $3,000 per selected project to support hybrid or virtual Reciprocal Exchange programs or grants of up to $5,000 per selected Participant to support travel to Sub-Saharan Africa and other program-related costs during the grant period. 
  • U.S. Participants and Mandela Washington Fellowship Alumni will implement a short-term project that directly benefits individuals in the project country during implementation.  Projects should be no longer than four weeks. 
  • U.S. Participants and Mandela Washington Fellowship Alumni will expand their professional networks, gain new business opportunities, build new knowledge or skills, and expand mutual understanding during their Reciprocal Exchange project planning and implementation periods. 
  • U.S. Participants will actively share skills and knowledge gained during their Reciprocal Exchange travel with other U.S. citizens in their home communities after implementing their Reciprocal Exchange. 

Reciprocal Exchange Award Timeline 

  • Application Deadline:   February 24, 2022 
  • Notification of Award: April 2022 
  • Grant Period: May 1 – November 30, 2022 


  • U.S. professionals: U.S. citizens who collaborate with Mandela Washington Fellowship Alumni to apply for a Reciprocal Exchange Award. 
  • Fellowship Alumni: Mandela Washington Fellowship Alumni who collaborate with U.S. professionals to apply for a Reciprocal Exchange Award. 
  • Participants: U.S. professionals who are selected to receive a Reciprocal Exchange Award. 
  • Fellowship Alumni Collaborators: Mandela Washington Fellowship Alumni who are selected to receive a Reciprocal Exchange Award. 

Financial Provisions

2020 Alumnus Tom Marentette participating in his hybrid Reciprocal Exchange

Maximum Hybrid or Virtual Grant Award: $3,000 per project 

Maximum In-Person Grant Award: $5,000 per selected Participant 

Disbursement of Funds: Up to $3,000 per project will be provided to implement the Reciprocal Exchange and support approved program-related costs for hybrid and virtual projects.  Funds may be disbursed to Fellowship Alumni Collaborators for hybrid and virtual projects only.  Award funds are disbursed in two installments, contingent upon receipt of required deliverables.  Participants or Fellowship Alumni Collaborators will receive funds as a wire transfer to their personal bank accounts; as such, Participants and Fellowship Alumni Collaborators will be asked to provide IREX with their bank information as well as a signed Terms and Conditions document, which will outline the terms for the award. 

Procurement of Visa: U.S. Participants will be required to procure their visas through an IREX-preferred vendor prior to travel, unless it is impossible to do so.  IREX will cover the cost of the visa service as well as the cost of the visa fee itself. 

Definition of a Hybrid Reciprocal Exchange: Hybrid Reciprocal Exchange projects conduct activities in the Fellowship Alumni Collaborator’s community with the U.S. professional participating virtually via Zoom or another platform.  Hybrid Reciprocal Exchanges do not involve any international travel by the U.S. Participant.  Read this story about a hybrid Reciprocal Exchange that took place in 2021! 

Definition of a Virtual Reciprocal Exchange: Virtual Reciprocal Exchange projects take place entirely on a virtual platform such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams.  There should be no in-person activities.  Virtual projects are ideal for implementation in African countries with a high level of risk for in-person activities, or for activities that are easily conducted virtually. 

Screenshot of 2021 virtual Reciprocal Exchange between Robyn Murray Schreiner, Chris Graves, Michelle Hassler, and Lilian Kaivil

Eligibility Requirements

U.S. professionals participating in the Reciprocal Exchange must be U.S. citizens currently living in the United States.  U.S. professionals may not be employees or immediate family members of employees of the U.S. Government (including a U.S. embassy, USAID, or other U.S. Government entity). 

Fellowship Alumni must be considered Alumni of the Fellowship by the U.S. Department of State.  They may not be employees or immediate family members of employees of the U.S. Government.  Fellowship Alumni must reside in the proposed project country and be present for the full duration of the project’s implementation.  Fellowship Alumni must also fill out the Fellowship Alumni Outreach Campaign if they have not done so in the last year. 

Fellowship Alumni from all cohorts are eligible to apply. 

Am I eligible to apply for a Reciprocal Exchange? I have done…

  • 2 in-person projects: Yes! You are eligible to apply for a virtual or hybrid Reciprocal Exchange.
  • 1 in-person, 1 hybrid/virtual project: Yes! You are eligible to apply for an in-person or a virtual or hybrid Reciprocal Exchange.
  • 2 virtual or hybrid projects: Yes! You are eligible to apply for an in-person or virtual or hybrid Reciprocal Exchange.

Selection Criteria 

Eligible applications will be reviewed using the following selection criteria: 

  • Demonstrate impact on the Fellowship Alumni Collaborator’s home organization, community, and/or country; 
  • Demonstrate impact on the U.S. professional’s home organization and community; 
  • Demonstrate joint engagement between the Fellowship Alumni Collaborator and U.S. professional in project design and implementation (i.e., it should be clear to application reviewers that each applicant contributed equally to the overall application); 
  • Provide measurable goals and specific project activities during implementation; and 
  • Demonstrate continued impact of the project after implementation. 

Preference will be given to applications that also demonstrate or reflect some of the following: 

  • Concrete benefit to U.S. companies, communities, or organizations (e.g., identification of new business markets or export opportunities, development of institutional partnerships or student/scholar exchanges, presentation of findings to U.S. professional, community, or academic audiences, etc.). 
  • A history of collaboration between the U.S. professional and the Fellowship Alumni Collaborator as a result of the Mandela Washington Fellowship. 
  • Proposals for the implementation phase of project execution. 
  • Project teams with professional expertise relevant to the proposed activities. 
  • Interest in both the cultural and professional exchange aspects of the collaboration. 
  • Contribution to furthering a pre-existing project or initiative. 
  • Budget cost-sharing. 
  • Engagement of Mandela Washington Fellowship Alumni networks. 
  • Participants, Fellowship Alumni, and/or project beneficiaries who represent traditionally underrepresented groups or communities.  


  • Reciprocal Exchange-funded project components may not charge a participation fee from intended beneficiaries. 
  • Proposed activities for hybrid and in-person Reciprocal Exchanges must not involve direct clinical patient contact, which may include, but is not limited to: contact with human or animal patients; human or animal remains; corpses; cadavers; or carcasses; and/or the practice of medicine or other licensed health sciences, including practical exposure to the fields of medical and veterinary sciences, nursing, dentistry, psychological counseling, or any other field that requires direct clinical patient contact and/or prescribing or administering medication.   
  • Fellowship Alumni may apply for both Reciprocal Exchange and LINC Grants, but may only receive one type of award per application cycle. 
  • U.S. professionals may only participate in one Reciprocal Exchange Award per calendar year (i.e., implementation dates between January 17 – December 31 of a given year).  

All completed applications received by 11:59 pm EDT, February 24, 2022 will be evaluated competitively against the eligibility requirements and selection criteria.   

IREX reserves 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 be declared invalid and the applicant ineligible.  Incomplete applications will not be considered.   

Reporting Requirements 

All Reciprocal Exchange Participants and Alumni Collaborators will be required to submit a final report to IREX following implementation of their project.  More information about reporting requirements will be included in the Terms and Conditions documents signed by Participants and Fellowship Alumni Collaborators. 

General Application Instructions 

Reciprocal Exchange applications must include the following attachments.  Applications missing any attachment will be considered incomplete and therefore ineligible. 

  • Two Completed Application Forms: One written and submitted by the U.S. professional, one written and submitted by the Fellowship Alumni. Both the U.S. professional and the Fellowship Alumni must each complete the application form for the proposal to be considered complete.  Both applications are available at the link below. All responses must be in English. Include your full, legal name as it is spelled in your international passport. Provide complete contact information, including postal index codes for all addresses, and country and area codes for telephone numbers. Answers to essay questions should not exceed 300 words (approximately 2,000 characters) per question. 
  • Completed Work Plan: U.S. professionals and Fellowship Alumni must collaborate on the submitted work plan.  Please include as much detail as possible. Eligible work plans must use the provided template and comply with the requirements outlined in the template’s Guidelines tab. 
  • Completed Budget Form: All costs should be in U.S. dollars. Eligible budgets must use the provided template and comply with the requirements outlined in the template’s Guidelines tab. Budgets should reflect total estimated costs of project implementation, inclusive of expenses that will be provided in-kind and/or through cost-share.   
  • Professional Resume: Resumes should demonstrate that the applicants are well-qualified to implement the proposed project.  They must be submitted in English and may be no longer than two pages. 

Please note the following: 

  • Applications must be received on or before the due date.  Applications received after the deadline may not be considered. 
  • Fellowship Alumni and U.S. professionals are strongly encouraged to collaborate on creating the work plan and budget but must submit individually written applications. Questions in the applications are similar, but require individual answers from the Fellowship Alumni and U.S. professional. 
  • For projects with multiple U.S. professionals or Fellowship Alumni, only one online application should be submitted for each (i.e., one U.S. professional application and one Alumni application). 
  • Please do not leave any space blank.  If a question does not apply to you, write N/A (not applicable). 

Application Materials and Resources