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Training Tomorrow's Leaders Through YALI

Group of Mandela Washington Fellows at the University of Delaware
Source: Mandela Washington Fellows on Flickr

The U.S. government doesn't just sponsor American students and professionals to study and research abroad. There are also a number of fellowships for international students and professionals to come learn in the United States as well.

One of these programs is the Mandela Washington Fellowship, part of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) that is sponsored by the State Department.

This year, the Fellowship has brought over 700 young African leaders to universities across the country to develop skills in business, civic engagement, or public management. The program, which takes place over the summer, involves six weeks at a college or university, followed by a four week Professional Development Experience with a U.S. business, civil society organization, or public agency.

The YALI program has also implemented Regional Leadership Centers at institutions of higher education in Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, and Dakar, with satellite campuses in Lagos and Maputo. These centers "serve as a place for regional collaboration driven by young leaders by providing in-person and online training, networking, and professional development opportunities."

In addition, fellows are provided access to the YALI Network, which offers other free online training in topics such as business development, networking, public speaking, and human rights; online conversations across social media sites that bring the YALI network together to discuss topics relating to leadership and government; and numerous other resources to help them continue their professional development and give them the tools they need to build their future and the futures of their communities.

Programs such as YALI create a bridge between young leaders across sub-Saharan Africa and in the United States, bringing them together to discuss issues that affect them on both a community-based level and a global scale. Want to learn more? Visit the YALI website. Have you worked with a Mandela Fellow, or experienced the YALI program? Share your story here on, or tell us about it on our Facebook.

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