Opportunities for Alumni

Fellowship Alumni continue to build on the skills and connections developed during their program through access to ongoing professional development, networking, and collaboration opportunities with support from the U.S. Department of State and affiliated partners.  Mandela Washington Fellowship Alumni form a vibrant network of African leaders with the skills and motivation to spur growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance, and enhance peace and security across Africa. 

2019 Fellowship Alumni Ziadath Agnike Achimi (Benin), Cecilia Lesho (Zambia), and Ian Tarimo (Tanzania) meet Vice President Kamala Harris during the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit.

Alumni Activities 

2 women stand in a field holding moringa
Alumnae Natacha Agbahoungba (2016) and Manka’ah Che (2019) collaborate on a LINC project in Benin.

Leveraging Innovations in New Communities (LINC) Grants   

LINC Grants provide Fellowship Alumni with funding to collaborate with others in the Alumni network. Funds allow Alumni across cohort years, sectors, and regions to collaborate in person, learning from each other’s best practices and expertise. Learn more about LINC Grants.

Reciprocal Exchanges

2019 Reciprocal Exchange Awardee Bryan Richards exchanges soccer jerseys with 2018 Fellow Boubacar Sy during their workshop’s closing ceremony in Bamako, Mali.
2019 Participant Bryan Richards exchanges jerseys with 2018 Alumnus Boubacar Sy during their workshop in Mali.

The Reciprocal Exchange component of the Fellowship provides opportunities for American professionals to travel to Africa to continue collaborative work with Mandela Washington Fellowship Alumni on the continent.  Through joint projects, Americans and Alumni form lasting partnerships, expand markets and networks, and increase mutual understanding between the United States and countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.  Learn more about Reciprocal Exchanges.

2023 Leadership Impact Award Winner and 2015 Fellowship Alumna Jamila Mayanja of Uganda

Leadership Impact Award  

The annual Leadership Impact Award celebrates the individual achievements of an outstanding member of the Mandela Washington Fellowship Alumni network.  Selected based on their record of servant leadership and advocacy on behalf of the Fellowship, Leadership Impact Award recipients are invited to share a message of advice and inspiration with current Fellows and be featured in various Fellowship activities. Learn more about the Leadership Impact Award.

Catalyst Grant

Candid photo of a man in business formal dress speaking on stage, seated in a chair
2022 Catalyst Grant Winner and 2021 Fellowship Alumnus Abdallah Mabrouck of Tanzania

Through a partnership with D-Prize, a non-profit organization that works to distribute and scale proven technologies to benefit people in extreme poverty, up to five Fellows will be selected to receive grants of up to $20,000 USD each to fund new social ventures or initiatives. Alumni may apply annually through an open competition. Learn more about the Catalyst Grant.

Mandela Day Service Grants (MDSG)

2017 Fellowship Alumna Enelless Phiri takes a photo with participants during her Mandela Day Service Grant project in Malawi.

Mandela Day Service Grants provide funds to support Fellowship Alumni with implementing short-term volunteer-driven community campaigns that contribute to longer-term projects improving livelihoods. In honor of the annual Nelson Mandela International Day of Service, individual or teams of Alumni may implement their project and help make every day a Mandela Day. Learn more about Mandela Day Service Grants.

Alumni Professional Development Experience (PDE)

Screenshot of a Microsoft Teams call
2016 Fellowship Alumnus Kabir Mohamed Ibrahim engages with his host, the U.S. Green Building Council, during his Alumni PDE.

Fellowship Alumni who have not previously participated in a PDE may apply for a six-week opportunity to further hone their professional skills and connect with U.S. professionals working in their industries through a flexible, accessible, and robust virtual placement. Alumni PDEs are open to all Alumni in good standing. Learn more about PDEs.

Amplify Community Expertise (ACE) Events  

4 Alumni (3 female, 1 male) pose on stage after speaking on a panel at Africa Investor Week.
Fellowship Alumni pose on stage after speaking at an ACE Event at Africa Investor Week.

Held alongside regional and global conferences both in-person and virtually and attracting diverse professional audiences, ACE events offer an intimate platform for Fellowship Alumni and external experts to engage on strategic topics, helping Alumni connect with professionals in their broader global network.

Virtual Programming

Illustration of a computer network

The Fellowship leverages stakeholder expertise to deliver a suite of virtual programming for Fellowship Alumni to support their leadership development and strengthen their access to networks and resources, including Level-Up Chats, Knowledge Networks, and more.  Learn more about Virtual Programming.

Ongoing Opportunities

Throughout the year, the Fellowship supports opportunities for Alumni to take part in events and strengthen professional connections aligned with their career interests, often in partnership and collaboration with members of the Alumni Network. These opportunities may be in in-person, virtual, or hybrid formats, with varying levels of funding to support Alumni participation. Learn more about Ongoing Opportunities for Alumni.

Stay in Touch with the Fellowship

Do you have exciting news to share? Contact the Fellowship Alumni Team at MWFAlumni@irex.org. We would love to hear from you and share your news in our Program Impact Stories!


Contact the Fellowship Alumni Team at MWFAlumni@irex.org.

Other Opportunities through the U.S. Department of State

U.S. Department of State seal: eagle with blue and red and white stripe shield with an olive branch in its left claw and arrows in the right. White stars on a blue background with scalloped edge are above the head of the eagle. Dark blue border says Department of State United States of America.

Connect with International Exchange Alumni

Mandela Washington Fellowship Alumni are also part of a larger community of over 2 million ExchangeAlumni from around the world! Fellowship and Reciprocal Exchange Alumni will be invited to register for the ExchangeAlumni portal where they can:

  • Connect with a network of ExchangeAlumni representing all regions of the world
  • Access a variety of subscription-only newspapers, magazines, and scholarly journals online for free
  • Boost their entrepreneurial ventures using entrepreneurship guides and toolkits
  • Share news about their successes and accomplishments, and read about the achievements of other ExchangeAlumni

Alumni can also connect with the U.S. Department of State Alumni team on FacebookX (formerly Twitter), and Instagram to share their stories using the #ExchangeAlumni hashtag. Alumni can also join the conversation on LinkedIn to connect with more ExchangeAlumni and hear about career opportunities and professional development tips.

Connect with Your Local U.S. Embassy

Four 2021 Alumni collaborated on an AEIF Grant to promote sustainable agriculture in Ghana. Learn more.

The U.S. Embassies and Consulates across Sub-Saharan Africa want to hear about Fellowship Alumni’s experiences and contribute to their personal and professional development for years to come.  It is important to connect with the alumni coordinator at your U.S. Embassy/Consulate to learn more about resources and opportunities available to you as ExchangeAlumni! Some of these opportunities include:

  • Apply for funding opportunities through your alumni coordinator at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, including the annual Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund (AEIF) and Citizen Diplomacy Action Fund (CDAF) grants
  • Inquire about alumni associations (not in all countries) and the process for joining
  • Be considered for Post-funded opportunities and invited to alumni events

To learn more about opportunities with U.S. Embassies and Consulates, visit the website of your local U.S. mission at usembassy.gov.

Connect with the YALI Network

Fellowship Alumni are highly encouraged to reach out and engage with the YALI Network.  Some ways to get involved with the YALI Network include:

Learn more about YALIVotes and other initiatves.
  • Promote and engage in online courses: Help members of the YALI Network learn and grow by engaging in the Network’s free online courses and video vignettes.
  • Connect with Network members in your area: Alumni can also contact the YALI Network team to send email messages to members for invitations to events at yali.state.gov/emailrequest. Please note that Alumni will need to indicate the anticipated audience, and the YALI Network can help narrow down the list of Network members to find a group of attendees by segmenting and targeting the messages based on location, activity, and membership information.
  • Stay engaged in YALI Network initiatives: Throughout the year, YALI Network members come together to address important issues across the continent. Through these initiatives, you can join other YALI Network members in raising awareness and taking action on issues that matter to you.
  • Join the conversation online: You can connect with other young African leaders across the YALI Network social media platforms. Follow the YALI Network on Facebook and X (formerly Twitter) to meet other members and join the conversation.

Questions? Contact the YALI Network team at yalinetwork@state.gov or visit the YALI Network website.

A participant at a YALI RLC West Africa event in Dakar, Senegal.

Connect with Your Local Regional Leadership Center

YALI Regional Leadership Centers (RLCs) are located at higher education institutions in Sub-Saharan Africa and offer leadership training programs to young leaders between the ages of 18 and 35.  By providing in-person and online training, networking, and professional development opportunities, the RLCs serve as a place for young African leaders to collaborate on the continent.  Reach out to the RLC for your region to learn about opportunities to get involved.