The Mandela Washington Fellowship is the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). It empowers young leaders from Sub-Saharan Africa through academic coursework, leadership training, and networking opportunities. The Fellowship provides these outstanding young leaders with the opportunity to hone their skills at a U.S. institution of higher education, with support for professional development after they return home.
The Fellows, who are between the ages of 25 and 35, have established records of accomplishment in promoting innovation and positive change in their organizations, institutions, communities, and countries. In 2014 and 2015, 500 Fellows representing all 49 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa participated in the program each year. Because of the high demand for and success of the program, the Fellowship doubled in 2016 and 2017 to include 1,000 Fellows each year. These young leaders represent the diversity of Africa including equal numbers of women and men, individuals with disabilities, and people from both urban and rural areas.