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 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 in-person or hybrid projects in sub-Saharan African countries to continue collaborative work with Fellowship Alumni on the continent.
U.S. professionals may include those met during the Fellowship through networking, the Summit, Professional Development Experiences, Givitas, or other activities.
About Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI)
The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) was launched by the United States government as a signature effort to invest in the next generation of African leaders.
The need to invest in grooming strong, results-oriented leaders comes out of the statistics: nearly 1 in 3 Africans are between the ages of 10 and 24, and approximately 60% of Africa’s total population is below the age of 35.
Benefits of YALI Mandela Washington Reciprocal Exchange Fellowship
The Mandela Washington Fellowship will provide grants of up to $3,000 per selected project to support hybrid Reciprocal Exchange programs or grants of up to $5,000 per selected U.S. Participant to support travel to Sub-Saharan Africa and other program-related costs during the grant period.
U.S. Participants and 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 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 with other U.S. citizens in their home communities after implementing their Reciprocal Exchange.
Maximum Hybrid 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 projects. Funds may be disbursed to Fellowship Alumni Collaborators for hybrid projects only.
For in-person projects with multiple U.S. Participants, the project team must select one Participant to receive the project funds. 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 visa fee itself.
Please note that travelers to Nigeria are not able to use IREX’s preferred vendor for their visa procurement. Please see the budget template and the Nigerian Embassy’s website for more information.
Requirements for YALI Mandela Washington Reciprocal Exchange Fellowship Qualification
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.
Demonstrates impact on the Fellowship Alumni Collaborator’s home organization, community, and/or country;
Demonstrates impact on the U.S. professional’s home organization and community;
Demonstrates 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);
Provides measurable goals and specific project activities during implementation; and
Demonstrates continued impact of the project after implementation.
- 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.
How to Apply
- Completed Application Form(click “Apply Now” to begin)
a. Both the U.S. professional and the Fellowship Alumni must work together to complete an application form. The application is available at the link below.
NB: All responses must be in English.
Include your full legal name as it is spelled in your international passport.
2. Completed Work Plan (download)
a. Eligible work plans must use the template provided and comply with the requirements outlined in the template’s Guidelines tab.
- Fellowship Alumni and U.S. professionals must collaborate on all application materials, including the work plan and budget. Questions in each portion of the applications are similar but require individual answers from the Fellowship Alumni and U.S. professional(s).
- For projects with multiple U.S. professionals or Fellowship Alumni, the primary U.S. professional and primary Fellowship Alumni should complete the application together.
- Please do not leave any space blank. If a question does not apply to you, write N/A (not applicable).