WASHINGTON, June 19, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The U.S. Department of State and IREX are pleased to announce the arrival of the 2017 cohort of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders to the United States. The program is funded by the U.S. Department of State and administered in partnership with IREX, a global development nonprofit.
Accomplished in their careers and dedicated to service to their communities, the 2017 Fellows represent the diversity of Sub-Saharan Africa. Fellows are from both rural and urban areas, include individuals with disabilities, and represent equal numbers of women and men. The Fellows are leaders in public service, business, civil society, healthcare, education, agriculture, human rights, technology, and other fields. Selected from a pool of more than 64,000 applications, the Fellows bring a wealth of experience to the program and to the colleges and universities that will host them this summer.
During the first six weeks in the United States, Fellows will participate in Academic and Leadership Institutes at 38 colleges and universities in 25 states and the District of Columbia. During the Institutes, Fellows will study in one of three tracks: Business and Entrepreneurship, Civic Leadership, or Public Management. Through academic coursework, leadership training, experiential learning, and networking, Fellows will enhance their skills, develop innovative solutions to pressing challenges in their countries, and collaborate with their peers from across the continent. Fellows will also give back to their American host communities as volunteers. In 2016, Fellows contributed a combined total of 13,000 hours of community service to local organizations in cities and towns across the United States.
Following the Institutes, Fellows will convene in Washington, D.C. for the fourth annual Mandela Washington Fellowship Summit from July 31 – August 2. During the Summit, Fellows will have opportunities to connect with each other and with U.S. professionals, setting the stage for continued collaboration when they return home. U.S. professionals are invited to join the Partnership Expo at the Summit, which provides American companies and organizations the opportunity to highlight the work they do in Africa and make connections with the next generation of African decision-makers.
After the Summit, 100 competitively-selected Fellows will join private, public, and nonprofit organizations across the country for a six-week Professional Development Experience, which are substantive, short-term placements that allow Fellows to contribute their skills and insights to American organizations. From 2014 to 2016, Fellows contributed nearly 80,000 work hours to 173 U.S. host organizations across the country.
Upon returning to their home countries, Fellows will continue to build the skills they have developed during their time in the United States through regional conferences, professional practicum experiences, and mentoring opportunities. Fellows may also apply for their American colleagues to travel to Africa to continue project-based collaboration through the Reciprocal Exchange.
The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is a program of the U.S. government and is supported in its implementation by IREX. For more information about the Mandela Washington Fellowship, please visit yali.state.gov.
Alex Cole, Director of Strategic Communications, IREX