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

Seal of the U.S. Department of State. Words on the seal include: Department of State, United States of America, and E Pluribus Unum. Depicts 13 stars and an eagle with a red, white, and blue shield, wings outstretched, with an olive branch held by the left foot and arrows in the right.

Connect with International Exchange Alumni

Mandela Washington Fellowship Alumni are also part of a larger community – the #ExchangeAlumni family! Through the U.S. Department of State’s International Exchange Alumni website at alumni.state.gov, Fellowship and Reciprocal Exchange Alumni are able to:

  • Apply for funding opportunities, such as the annual Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund (AEIF) and Citizen Diplomacy Action Fund (CDAF) grants
  • Learn about grants worldwide through the Foundation Directory Online
  • Connect with a network of more than 400,000 other Exchange Alumni around the world
  • Access a variety of subscription-only newspapers, magazines, and scholarly journals online for free
  • Boost their entrepreneurial and innovative endeavors with the guides and toolkits available on the Enabling Entrepreneurs page
  • Share news about their successes and accomplishments, and read about the achievement of other #ExchangeAlumni

Alumni can also connect with the U.S. Department of State Alumni team on Facebook and Twitter and share their stories by using the #ExchangeAlumni hashtag.

2019 Mandela Washington Fellows from Mali pose with Deputy Chief of Mission Greg Garland at a Pre-Departure Orientation.
2019 Mandela Washington Fellows from Mali pose with Deputy Chief of Mission Greg Garland at a Pre-Departure Orientation.

Connect with Your Local U.S. Embassy

The U.S. Embassies and Consulates across Sub-Saharan Africa want to hear about Fellowship Alumni’s experiences and contribute to Alumni’s personal and professional development for years to come. Stay in touch to learn about opportunities, events, seminars, and resources available to Fellowship Alumni and collaborate with Alumni of other U.S. Department of State Exchange Programs.

Connect with the YALI Network

Two volunteers in hard hats shake hands. Accompanied by the text "Serving Africa Together #YALIServes"

Fellowship Alumni are highly encouraged to reach out and engage with YALI Network members as event attendees or volunteers.

Fellowship Alumni can bring groups of YALI Network members together for a #YALILearns event using one of the YALI Network Online Courses. These courses give Network members and youth audiences the chance to gain new information and skills in leadership, entrepreneurship, civic engagement, and public management.

Fellowship Alumni can also contact the YALI Network team to send email messages to members for invitations to events at yali.state.gov/emailrequest. Fellowship 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.

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