Frequently Asked Questions: 2020 Fellowship Application

Application

Can I access the application from my phone or tablet?

Yes! You can access the application from any device that is connected to the Internet.  The application is mobile-friendly so it is easy to apply from your phone or tablet.

How do I enter my name into the application?

You should type your name exactly as it appears on your passport or other official government identification documents.  For example, John’s passport says: Ngozi for his surname and John Michael for his given name.  He should type John Michael in the Given Name field and Ngozi in the Surname (Family Name) field of the application.

I am unable to move past the General Information section.  How do I apply?

Please review the eligibility requirements.  The application will not let you proceed unless you meet general requirements and have fully completed the section.

I signed up for email updates from the YALI Network and cannot get into the Mandela Washington Fellowship online application system.  What do I do?

Signing up for YALI Network email updates does not create an account for you in the online application system.  You must create a separate account in the Mandela Washington Fellowship Online Application System to apply.

How can I log in to the application system and see my information from last year?

All previous applications have been cleared.  You will need to register again in the Online Application System in order to complete the 2020 application.

Can I submit a paper copy of the Mandela Washington Fellowship application?

No, you must submit your application through the Mandela Washington Fellowship Online Application System.  Paper applications or applications by email attachment will not be accepted.

Can I submit more than one application for the Mandela Washington Fellowship?

No, you may submit only one application.  Submitting additional applications will disqualify you.  If you do apply more than once, all of your applications will be rejected.

I have multiple email addresses, including some for personal use and some for my work.  Which one should I use for the Mandela Washington Fellowship application?

You should use the one email address that you access most frequently and that can be accessed from any Internet connection.  Work email addresses that cannot be accessed outside your office, or that you will not be able to access if you change jobs, are not recommended.  Please use only one email address to ensure that you receive all correspondence regarding the application process.

I cannot afford to pay an application fee.  How should I apply?

There is no fee to apply for the Mandela Washington Fellowship.

The application instructions say all answers must be my “own, original work.” What does that mean?

All answers must be in your own words and be your own ideas.  Be certain not to plagiarize.  Plagiarism is taking someone else’s work or ideas and presenting them as your own.  If you use another person’s writing, ideas, words, or materials you need to credit the source.  Do not cut and paste ideas from the Internet or other sources.  Plagiarism is strictly forbidden at many organizations and academic institutions in the United States, and those who plagiarize their application materials will be disqualified.  This also includes using the wording from another applicant or Fellowship Alumni in your application.  The U.S. Department of State and IREX will be checking all applications for plagiarism.  For more information, please visit Plagiarism.org.

After I complete and submit my application, can I go back in and make changes or add supplemental documents at a later date?

No, all submitted applications are final. Once you have submitted your application, you can no longer add any additional information or make any changes through the online system or via email.  All information and documents must be uploaded prior to your final submission, so be sure to carefully check everything before you submit.  If you have any questions about or problems with your application, please contact mwfellowship@irex.org before you submit it.

I’m not sure which track to list as my first choice.  How should I choose how to rank them?

You should list the tracks according to what best aligns to your current work and/or long-term professional goals.  All tracks will have a focus on leadership development and help Fellows strengthen skills that are transferable to a variety of industries, like strategic planning, communications and marketing, financial management, and organizational management.  For more detailed information on each track, please see the Application Instructions.

My current work doesn’t seem to fit into any of the tracks (Leadership in Business, Leadership in Civic Engagement, Leadership in Public Management).  Should I still apply?

Absolutely!  Past Mandela Washington Fellows have come from many different backgrounds and work in a wide variety of fields.  There are transferable skills learned in all three tracks, and the overarching topics are applicable to a variety of sectors, including but not limited to entrepreneurship, non-profit management, healthcare, journalism, public service, education, tourism, human rights, agriculture, and environmental protection.  Check out the bios of past Mandela Washington Fellows in our online directory to get a better idea of the variety of industries that Fellows represent.


Disability and Other Accommodations

I have a physical disability or other special need and I need another person’s assistance to complete my application.  Is this considered plagiarism?

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply for the Mandela Washington Fellowship.  Applicants with physical disabilities or special needs who require another person’s assistance to complete an application may use such assistance.  However, the thoughts, ideas, and content of your application must be your own; you cannot collaborate with the person assisting you on the content of your application.

Can applicants with disabilities apply?  Why does the application ask if I have a disability?

Yes, applicants with disabilities can absolutely apply and are encouraged to do so.  The Mandela Washington Fellowship does not discriminate against applicants because of race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability, or any other protected characteristic as established by U.S. law.  The application includes a question about disability so that we are aware of what kinds of accommodations might be needed if you are interviewed or selected.  Your answer to the question regarding disabilities is voluntary and will not impact your chances of acceptance.

How are Fellows with disabilities supported during the Fellowship?

Each Fellow’s needs are evaluated individually so that the Institute Partner and IREX can determine the reasonable accommodations needed to ensure full participation in program activities.  Learn more about what types of reasonable accommodations may be available during the Fellowship.

How are pregnant Fellows supported during the Fellowship?

Applicants who are pregnant are encouraged to apply.  The Mandela Washington Fellowship is committed to supporting positive learning and networking environments for all Fellows.  The Fellowship is an intensive program, which includes long days and extended periods of time sitting in the classroom or walking on excursions and site visits.  Airlines also have different policies for flying while pregnant and may restrict travel for individuals who are pregnant after a certain period in their pregnancy.  If you are less than 20 weeks pregnant by the start of the Fellowship in mid-June, you should be able to fully participate in the program.  For more information, please review additional frequently asked questions about pregnancy and information on the support and resources available to pregnant Fellows during the Fellowship.


Technical Eligibility Requirements: Age

I am currently 35 years old but will turn 36 before the Mandela Washington Fellowship application deadline closes.  Am I eligible for the Mandela Washington Fellowship?

No, you are not eligible to apply for the Fellowship.  Applicants must be between the ages of 25 and 35 on or before the application deadline.  If you are still 35 on October 9, 2019, you are eligible to apply.  No exceptions will be made for candidates older than 35.

I am younger than 25 years old.  Am I eligible for the Mandela Washington Fellowship?

You may be eligible for the Fellowship.  The target age range is 25 to 35, although exceptional candidates ages 21-24 will be considered.  All applicants must be at least 21 at the time of the application deadline.


Technical Eligibility Requirements: Citizenship

I am not sure if people from my country are eligible for the Fellowship.  Where can I find a list of eligible countries?

Please visit the Mandela Washington Fellowship application information page to view the list of countries eligible for the 2020 Mandela Washington Fellowship.

I left my African home country as a refugee and am now a U.S. citizen.  Am I eligible to apply for the Mandela Washington Fellowship?

No, you are not eligible to apply for the Fellowship.  U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and green card holders are not eligible to apply for the Fellowship under any circumstances.

I have dual citizenship in my African home country and the United Kingdom (or other eligible and non-eligible countries).  Am I eligible to apply for the Mandela Washington Fellowship?

Maybe.  If you live in one of the sub-Saharan African countries eligible for the Fellowship and reside in another sub-Saharan African country that is eligible, you are eligible to apply.  If you are accepted as a Fellow, you must apply for your U.S. visa and enter the United States on your eligible country passport.  If you live in any country outside of Africa, you are not eligible to apply for the Fellowship regardless of your citizenship.  Please see the information on residency below for more details.

I am an employee of the U.S. Government but am a citizen and resident of an eligible country.  Am I eligible to apply for the Mandela Washington Fellowship?

No, you are not eligible to apply for the Fellowship.  Employees and immediate family members of employees of the U.S. Government are not eligible to apply for the Fellowship.


Technical Eligibility Requirements: Residency

What do you mean by country of residence?

Your country of residence is the country in which you currently live and have a physical address.  You must live in one of the countries eligible for the Fellowship to apply.

I am a citizen of Ghana currently living in South Africa.  Am I eligible to apply for the Mandela Washington Fellowship?  What option do I choose for my country?

Yes, you are eligible for the Fellowship.  Applicants living outside their country of citizenship in another eligible country may apply.  Please be sure to select the correct country of citizenship and list your current permanent address in the legal residence section of the application.

I am a resident of the United States, but I am originally from an African country.  Am I eligible to apply for the Mandela Washington Fellowship?

No, you are not eligible for the Fellowship.  Residents of the United States or any other non-eligible country are not eligible for the Mandela Washington Fellowship under any circumstances, even those with temporary residency such as students.

I am an African student studying in France (or another non-eligible country).  Am I eligible to apply for the Mandela Washington Fellowship?

No, you are not eligible for the Fellowship.  Residents of non-eligible countries are not eligible for the Fellowship under any circumstances, even those with temporary residency such as students.  You may be eligible for a future Fellowship year once you permanently return to your home country, provided that you meet the other technical eligibility requirements.

I previously resided in the United States for school or work but have returned and am now a resident in an eligible African country.  Am I eligible to apply?

Yes, if you are currently both a citizen and a resident of an eligible African country, you are eligible to apply (provided that you meet the other technical eligibility requirements).

I am a citizen of a non-eligible country but have lived all my life in Sub-Saharan Africa.  Am I eligible to apply for the Mandela Washington Fellowship?

No, you must be both a citizen and a resident of an eligible country to apply for the Fellowship.


Technical Eligibility Requirements: Language

I am not proficient in English.  Can I participate in the Mandela Washington Fellowship using another language?

No.  The Fellowship will be conducted entirely in English.  English proficiency is required.  Applicants who are deaf, please note that interpretation in the United States may only be available in American Sign Language (ASL), so if you are selected as a Fellow you should be proficient in ASL or be prepared to learn prior to arrival in the United States.

How will language abilities be assessed?

Language abilities will be assessed through the online application and, if you are chosen for the next stage, during an interview at your local U.S. embassy or consulate.  TOEFL scores are not required.  You can practice and improve your English language skills for free through the American English website or through Voice of America’s Learning English website.

My native language is French.  Can I submit my application documents in French?

No.  All applications must be written in English.  Any supplemental documents originally written in another language must be submitted with an English language translation.


Technical Eligibility Requirements: Miscellaneous

Must I have attended university or have a university degree to apply?

No.  Formal education plays a role in terms of what we are looking for in applicants, but you will not be disqualified if you do not have a formal diploma or degree.

I am currently serving in my country’s military, defense ministries, police, or other law enforcement.  Am I eligible to apply?

Yes.  Previous restrictions for this program have been lifted and we are able to consider applications from military, defense ministries, and police.

Will I be able to apply for a visa to another country while in the United States?

If you are selected as a Fellow and you are planning to pursue business, education, or other opportunities in a foreign country after the Fellowship, we encourage you to secure needed visas prior to travel to the United States.  In most instances, it is impossible to apply for visas to travel to other countries while you are away from your home country.

Will I be able to take time off during the Fellowship to attend to other matters?

No.  Fellows are expected to be fully engaged during the Fellowship.  This includes full attendance and participation in all required activities, events, and sessions during the Institute, the Mandela Washington Fellowship Summit, and, if applicable, the Professional Development Experience.

I have a family and would like to bring them with me to the United States if I am selected as a Fellow.  Is this allowed?

No, you may not bring any members of your family with you to the United States.  Program rules prohibit Fellows from bringing their dependents or other family members, and no dependent visas will be issued.