Opportunities for Youth: Mandela Washington Fellowship – YALI Application 2024

The Mandela Washington Fellowship will bring up to 700 young leaders to the United States in the summer of 2024 for a comprehensive executive-style program that is designed to build skills and empower Fellows to lead in their respective sectors and communities.

Are you a young African leader brimming with potential and seeking the means to amplify your impact on your community and the world at large? Look no further than the Mandela Washington Fellowship, a remarkable initiative that opens doors to an array of life-changing opportunities for youth across the continent.

One of the standout features of the Mandela Washington Fellowship is its Fully-funded opportunity to USA. This means that financial constraints won’t hinder your dreams of participation. As a selected fellow, you’ll have the chance to immerse yourself in American culture, exchange ideas with fellow changemakers, and build networks that transcend borders. This experience isn’t just about gaining knowledge; it’s about broadening your horizons and enriching your perspective.

So, how can you seize this golden chance? The YALI application for 2024 is your gateway. Crafting a compelling application requires more than just listing your achievements – it demands showcasing your passion, your commitment to change, and your unique perspective.

The YALI Application 2024 Application Portal will open for registration starting from 15th August 2023 to September 12, 2023.

Our top tip for applying – Be authentic. Share your journey, your challenges, and your aspirations. Let your voice shine through, and let your passion for empowering your community resonate.

Recommended: Western Kentucky University Tipi Scholarships 2023 for African Students

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the heart of this fellowship, explore the empowering opportunities it presents for young minds, and provide you with invaluable insights into the YALI application process for 2024.

The Fellowship is an unparalleled opportunity to…

Participate in a six-week Leadership Institute at a U.S. college or university to share your experiences with and learn from U.S. citizens and other Fellows.

  • Explore industries beyond your daily work and expand your expertise.
  • Participate in a Summit with young African leaders.
  • Meet with U.S. Government, civic, and business leaders.
  • Strengthen your work through new connections, skills, and ideas.
  • Join a continental and global Alumni Network to help you seek innovative solutions to common challenges.

Empowering Young African Leaders: The Mandela Washington Fellowship

At its core, the Mandela Washington Fellowship is much more than a scholarship program; it’s a transformative journey that equips young African leaders with the skills, networks, and resources they need to drive positive change in their societies. This fully-funded opportunity offers participants a chance to enhance their leadership abilities, gain exposure to American institutions, and collaborate with like-minded individuals who share a passion for making a difference.

Seizing Opportunities for Youth Empowerment

The Mandela Washington Fellowship opens a treasure trove of opportunities for youth empowerment. From skill-building workshops to networking sessions with industry leaders, participants are immersed in an environment that nurtures their personal and professional growth. As a young African leader, you’ll have the chance to learn from experts, refine your vision, and develop strategies to create lasting impact in your community.


Attention young #African leaders! The #YALI2024 application will open on Tuesday, August 15 2023! You may apply to one of 3 tracks: Business, Civic Engagement, or Public Management. Meanwhile take some time to view the eligibility info and the timeline:

Application and Selection Timeline
  • August 15, 2023  |  Application opens
  • September 12, 2023  |  Application deadline
  • November 2023 – January 2024  |  Semi-finalists interviewed by local U.S. embassies and consulates
  • March 2024 |  Applicants notified of their status
  • May 2024  |  Visa processing and Pre-Departure Orientations for Finalists
  • June 2024  |  Fellowship begins in the United States
Selection Process and Criteria

The Mandela Washington Fellowship selection process is a merit-based open competition.  After the deadline, independent readers will review all eligible applications.  Following this review, chosen semi-finalists will be interviewed by the U.S. embassies or consulates in their home countries.  Selected semi-finalists will be required to participate in these in-person interviews in their home country within Africa.  If advanced to the semi-finalist round, applicants must provide a copy of their international passport (if available) or other government-issued photo identification at the time of the interview.  Selected Finalists are required to attend the mandatory Pre-Fellowship Orientation in their home country within Africa.

Who is eligible to apply for the Mandela Washington Fellowship?

Applicants will not be discriminated against on the basis of race, color, gender, religion, socioeconomic status, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity.  The Mandela Washington Fellowship is open to young African leaders who meet the following criteria:

  • Are between the ages of 25 and 35 on or before the application deadline, although exceptional applicants ages 21-24 will be considered;
  • Are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the United States;
  • Are eligible to receive a United States J-1 visa;
  • Are not employees or immediate family members of employees of the U.S. Government (including a U.S. embassy or consulate, USAID, or other U.S. Government entity);
  • Are proficient in reading, writing, and speaking English (additional guidance coming for applicants who are deaf);
  • Are citizens of one of the following countries: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cabo Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, or Zimbabwe;
  • Are residents of one of the above countries; and
  • Are not Alumni of the Mandela Washington Fellowship.
  • Please note that Fellows are not allowed to have dependents, including spouses and children, accompany them during the Fellowship.

Selection of finalists from all eligible countries may be subject to review in response to local, national, or global events that impact the ability to conduct program activities.

The U.S. Department of State and IREX reserve the right to verify all information included in the application.  In the event of a discrepancy, or if the information is found to be false, the application will immediately be declared invalid and the applicant ineligible.

What are the criteria for selection?

The following criteria will be used to evaluate applications (not in order of importance):

  • A proven record of leadership and accomplishment in business or entrepreneurship, civic engagement, and/or public/government service;
  • ​A demonstrated commitment to public or community service, volunteerism, or mentorship;
  • ​The ability to work cooperatively in diverse groups and to respect the opinions of others;
  • ​Strong social and communication skills;
  • ​An energetic, positive, and flexible attitude;
  • ​A demonstrated knowledge of, interest in, and professional experience in the preferred sector/Fellowship track and concrete goals for applying lessons knowledge and skills gained from the Fellowship to current and/or future work; and
  • ​A commitment to return to Sub-Saharan Africa and contribute skills and talents to build and serve their communities.

Got questions?  Visit Frequently Asked Questions  about the Fellowship application –

Check out our Resources page to download and learn more


To Apply Visit the Official Website of Mandela Washington Fellowship


Take Point

By taking the leap and applying for the Mandela Washington Fellowship, you’re joining a league of exceptional young African leaders who are committed to driving progress and shaping the future of the continent. The fellowship isn’t just a one-time opportunity; it’s a lifelong connection to a network of change agents who support and inspire each other on their journeys.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship isn’t just a fellowship; it’s a catalyst for transformation, a platform for empowerment, and a springboard for impactful leadership. As the 2024 YALI application window approaches, seize this chance to embark on a journey that could redefine your trajectory. Dare to dream big, dare to apply, and dare to become a part of a movement that’s shaping the future of Africa for the better.


What is the Mandela Washington Fellowship for 2024?

The Mandela Washington Fellowship will bring up to 700 young leaders to the United States in the summer of 2024 for a comprehensive executive-style program that is designed to build skills and empower Fellows to lead in their respective sectors and communities.

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.

Is YALI same as Mandela Washington Fellowship?

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is the flagship program of the U.S. Government’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI).

Are Mandela Washington Fellows paid?

No, up to $5,000 may be provided to each American professional to help cover the cost of travel to and from Sub-Saharan Africa and to support approved program-related costs. Fellowship Alumni and American professionals will be responsible for covering additional costs.

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

Yes, you may be eligible to apply for the Fellowship.  Exceptional candidates between the ages of 21 and 24 on or before the application submission may be considered.  If you are 21 on September 12, 2023, you are eligible to apply.  No exceptions will be made for candidates younger than 21.

How long does the Mandela Washington Fellowship take?


Each year, Fellows participate in six-week leadership institutes, studying business, civic engagement, or public management at U.S. colleges or universities.

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 lists Ngozi as his surname and John Michael as his given name.  He should type John Michael in the First Name(s) (Given Name(s)) field and Ngozi in the Last Name (Surname or Family Name) field of the application.

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

All previous applications have been erased.  You will need to register again at apply.mandelawashingtonfellowship.org to complete the 2024 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 (apply.mandelawashingtonfellowship.org).  Paper applications or applications via 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.

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