Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders – APPLY NOW

The U.S. Department of State sponsors the Mandela Washington Fellowship, which provides grants and a six-week leadership training program at a U.S. college or university for young Nigerian leaders. This program aims to empower these leaders, fostering positive change in their communities by enhancing their skills, expanding their networks, and inspiring them to make a significant impact.

Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders
Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders

Let’s explore the ever-changing realm of leadership development and the life-changing experience that awaits those who receive this esteemed fellowship.

Eligibility and Application Process for the Mandela Washington Fellowship


  • Applicants must be aged 25-35 or exceptional applicants aged 21-24.
  • Applicants must not be U.S. citizens or permanent residents.
  • Applicants must be eligible for a United States J-1 visa.
  • Applicants must not be employees or immediate family members of U.S. Government entities.
  • Applicants must be proficient in English (additional guidance for deaf applicants).
  • Applicants must be citizens and residents of Nigeria or any other African developing country.
  • Applicants must not be Alumni of the Mandela Washington Fellowship.

Requirements Criteria:

  • Proven leadership and accomplishment in business, entrepreneurship, civic engagement, or public service.
  • Commitment to public service, volunteerism, or mentorship.
  • Ability to work well in diverse groups and respect others’ opinions.
  • Strong social and communication skills, energetic, positive, and flexible attitude.
  • Knowledge, interest, and professional experience in preferred sector track, with concrete goals for applying lessons learned.
  • Commitment to return to Africa and contribute skills and talents to communities.

Application Process:

To become a Mandela Washington Fellow, you must go through a careful application process:

  • Online Application: Fill out the online application form with accurate and thorough information.
  • Resume/CV Submission: Attach a detailed resume or curriculum vitae that outlines your education, work experience, and leadership positions.
  • Letters of Recommendation: Obtain letters of recommendation that emphasize your leadership abilities, impact, and potential for growth.
  • Personal Statement: Create a persuasive personal statement that expresses your vision, dedication, and the impact you hope to achieve.
  • Deadline Adherence: Submit your application before the stated deadline. Late submissions are usually not accepted.

Importance of Meeting Eligibility and Submitting a Strong Application

To increase your chances of being selected for the highly competitive Mandela Washington Fellowship, it is crucial to meet the eligibility criteria and submit a strong application. This is your chance to showcase your leadership journey, impact, and aspirations, so be sure to provide tangible examples of how you have made a difference. Additionally, make sure your application aligns with the fellowship’s goals of promoting leadership, innovation, and positive change in Africa.

Grant Award Motivation

The Mandela Washington Fellowship has identified various challenges in the past, such as agriculture, education, governance, infrastructure, road safety, energy, health access, and poverty reduction. A selected few Fellowship Alumni will receive grants of up to $20,000 USD each to pilot a new Project that aims to create change and distribute a proven poverty intervention in areas with extreme poverty.

Benefits and Opportunities of the Mandela Washington Fellowship

There are various benefits and opportunities for participating in the Mandela Washington Fellowship, they are as follows:

  • Comprehensive Leadership Training: The Mandela Washington Fellowship offers a comprehensive leadership training program that lasts for six weeks at a U.S. college or university. The curriculum is designed to enhance leadership skills, foster innovation, and equip fellows with the tools to drive positive change.
  • Global Networking Opportunities: Participants also have the opportunity to connect with a diverse group of young African leaders, fostering collaboration and cross-cultural understanding. They can establish valuable networks with professionals, experts, and peers, creating opportunities for future partnerships and collaborations.
  • Exposure to U.S. Government and Industry Leaders: Engaging with U.S. government officials, business leaders, and representatives from civil society organizations provides fellows with insights into governance, industry trends, and diverse perspectives. This contributes to a holistic understanding of leadership in a global context.
  • Skill Enhancement and Capacity Building: The fellowship also focuses on skill enhancement and capacity building. Fellows acquire practical skills and tools essential for effective leadership and project management. They participate in workshops, seminars, and interactive sessions to hone their ability to navigate complex challenges and implement impactful solutions.
  • Alumni Network Access: Being part of the Mandela Washington Fellowship grants access to an extensive network of alumni, creating ongoing opportunities for collaboration, mentorship, and shared learning. Fellows can also access resources and support beyond the program, contributing to long-term professional growth.

Other Benefits Include:

  • Exposure to Civic Engagement and Social Impact: The fellowship exposes participants to civic engagement, social impact, and community development. They have the chance to explore avenues for making a positive difference in their communities and gain inspiration from successful projects and initiatives.
  • Strengthened Leadership and Innovation Skills: Participating in the fellowship strengthens leadership and innovation skills. Fellows enhance their capabilities as change agents in their fields, developing a strategic mindset, adaptability, and a deep understanding of the role of leadership in driving sustainable development.

The Impact of the Mandela Washington Fellowship on Nigerian Youth

Some of the Curial impact of Mandela Washington fellowship on Nigeria youth are:

  • The Mandela Washington Fellowship provides Nigerian youth with advanced leadership skills, global networking opportunities, and the potential to implement positive changes in their communities.
  • Participants become empowered agents of change, gaining the confidence and knowledge to address pressing issues and contribute meaningfully to Nigeria’s development.
  • Success stories and testimonials from previous Nigerian fellows serve as inspiration for current and future participants, showcasing the transformative journey and outcomes of the program.
  • Beyond the immediate impact, the fellowship contributes to the long-term professional growth of Nigerian youth, who continue to engage with networks, access resources, and participate in initiatives that further their leadership journey.
  • Nigerian fellows bring back insights and experiences that contribute to sustainable development goals, spanning diverse fields and shaping a more resilient and vibrant Nigeria.


The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is a transformative program that empowers Nigerian youth to become agents of change through leadership development, networking opportunities, community impact, and long-term growth.

The fellowship is a catalyst for empowerment and a life-changing opportunity for eligible Nigerian leaders to unlock their potential and make a profound difference in their country.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is included in the leadership training program?

Participants will undergo a rigorous six-week training program at a college or university in the United States. The program aims to improve leadership abilities, encourage innovation, and broaden global perspectives.

How can I apply for the fellowship, and what documents are required?

To apply for the fellowship, you can usually complete the application online. You will need to submit certain documents such as a comprehensive resume, letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and any other materials that highlight your leadership experience.

Are Nigerian fellows able to carry out community projects upon their return home?

Yes, the fellowship aims to empower participants to make positive changes in their communities, and many Nigerian fellows have successfully implemented impactful projects upon their return home.



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