The Mandela Washington Fellowship (MWF)

The application period for the 2019 Mandela Washington Fellowship (MWF) is now open.   The fellowship commonly referred to as Young African Leadership Institute Fellows is funded by the United States Government through their State Department and was initiated under former President Barack Obama and continued under current President Donald Trump.

The application will close on October 10, 2018. No applications will be accepted after this date.  Don’t wait until the last minute to complete your application. Prepare early and take the time to thoughtfully compose your answers before you fill out and submit your application.

The department has put together a publication with advice from former Fellows on successfully navigating the application process.  It can be accessed at The Fellowship Application Insider

 

Application and Selection Process

The Mandela Washington Fellowship is conducted as a merit-based open competition. After the deadline, all eligible applications will be reviewed by independent readers. Following this review, chosen semifinalists will be interviewed by the U.S. embassies or consulates in their home countries. If selected for an interview, applicants must provide a copy of their passport (if available) or other government-issued photo identification to verify eligibility.

Who is eligible to apply?

Applicants will not be discriminated against on the basis of race, color, gender, religion, socio-economic 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 at the time of application submission, 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, and other U.S. Government entities).
  • Are proficient in reading, writing, and speaking English. Applicants who are deaf should consult the Application Instructions for more information.
  • Are citizens and residents of one of the following countries: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cabo Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Republic of the Congo, 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, and Zimbabwe.

The U.S. Department of State and IREX reserve the right to verify all of the information included in the application. In the event that there is a discrepancy, or information is found to be false, the application will immediately be declared invalid and the applicant ineligible. Applications not meeting the above technical eligibility requirements will not be forwarded to the selection committee. If you do not meet the technical eligibility requirements for this program, we invite you to visit exchanges.state.gov for information on other U.S. Department of State exchange opportunities.

What are the criteria for selection?

Selection panels will use the following criteria to evaluate applications (not in order of importance):

  • A proven record of leadership and accomplishment in public service, business, or civic engagement.
  • A demonstrated commitment to public or community service, volunteerism, or mentorship.
  • The ability to work cooperatively in diverse groups and respect the opinions of others.
  • Strong social and communication skills.
  • An energetic, positive attitude.
  • Demonstrated knowledge of, interest in, and professional experience in the preferred sector/track.
  • A commitment to return to Africa and apply leadership skills and training to benefit the applicant’s country and/or community after they return home.

Application Information

The application will collect basic information and will include questions regarding the applicant’s professional and academic experience, including educational background; honors and awards received; extracurricular and volunteer activities; and English language proficiency. We will also request a résumé (with dated educational and professional background) and personal information (name, address, phone, email, country of citizenship). Additional elements, such as letters of recommendation or university transcripts, are OPTIONAL and may supplement your application.