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2019 Application Information

The 2019 Mandela Washington Fellowship application will open September 12 at 4 PM GMT!


September 12, 2018 | Application opens
October 10, 2018 | Application closes
December 2018 – February 2019 | Semifinalists interviewed by local U.S. embassies and consulates
Late March 2019 | Applicants are notified of their status
May 2019 | Visa processing and Pre-Departure Orientations for finalists
Mid-June 2019 | Fellowship begins in the United States

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 panel. 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.
  • Running Marine Women's Shoes La coloured 000 Sportiva Orange Bushido Lily Woman Multi Trail Blue 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 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.

Frequently Asked Questions


Q: Can I access the application from my phone or tablet?

A: 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.

Q: How do I enter my name into the application?

A: 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.

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

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

Q: 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?

A: 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 at to apply through the Mandela Washington Fellowship online application system.

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

A: All previous applications have been cleared.  You will need to register again at in order to complete the 2019 application.

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

A: 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.

La coloured Shoes Bushido Running Women's Orange Marine Trail Woman Multi Lily Sportiva 000 Blue Q: Can I submit more than one application for the Mandela Washington Fellowship?

A: 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.

Q: 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?

Women's Multi 000 Running coloured Woman Orange Shoes Lily Marine La Trail Bushido Sportiva Blue A: 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.

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

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

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

A: 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, your own application submissions from previous years, 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 the website.

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

A: 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 Shoe Belle Womens Blush 37 2 Guess gpUZqwg before you submit it.

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

A: 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 review pages 5-6 above.

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Q:  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?

A:  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

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

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A: 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.

Q: Can applicants with disabilities apply?  Why does the application ask if I have a disability?Dress Casual V Sleeve Tian Sexy American G Women Bodycon Slim European Collar Party and Red Evening Bandage Long Dress qHTgxH8

A: 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.

Q: How are Fellows with disabilities supported during the Fellowship?

A: Each Fellow’s needs are evaluated individually so that the host institution and IREX can determine the reasonable accommodations needed to ensure full participation in program activities.  Please click here for more information on what types of reasonable accommodations may be available during the Fellowship.



Q: 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?

A: No, you are not eligible to apply for the Fellowship.  Applicants must be between the ages of 25 and 35 on or before of the application deadline.  If you are still 35 on October 10, 2018, you are eligible to apply. No exceptions will be made for candidates older than 35.

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

A: 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.


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

A: Please visit the Young African Leaders Initiative website to view the list of countries eligible for the 2019 Mandela Washington Fellowship.

Q: 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?

A: 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.

Q: 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?

A: 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.

Q: 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?

A: 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.


Q: What do you mean by country of residence?

A: 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.

Q: 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?

A: Yes, you are eligible for the Fellowship.  Applicants living outside their country of citizenship but 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.

Q: 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?

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

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

Multi Women's Lily 000 Sportiva Bushido coloured Woman Shoes Marine La Trail Running Orange Blue A: 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.

Q: 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?

A: 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).

Q: 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?

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


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

A: 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, or be prepared to learn, ASL prior to arrival in the United States.

Q: How will language abilities be assessed?

A: 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 Shoulder Women's Blue Dress Angel Rhinestones Slit Out Long Hollow Single fashions 1Ywv7nq5wR.

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

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


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

A: 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.

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

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

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

A: 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 way from your home country.

Q: Will I be able to take time off during the Fellowship to attend to other matters?Beige 417001e1l Nude Nude Platform Women’s Bullboxer Sandals wTnZq8I4

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

Q:  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?

A:  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.