Indiana University to host young African leaders through Mandela Washington Fellowship program

  • Feb. 14, 2017


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University will host 25 of Africa’s brightest emerging leaders for six-week academic and leadership institute this summer sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship, the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative, empowers young African leaders through academic coursework, leadership training, mentoring, networking, professional opportunities and support for activities in their communities. 

Fellows are young leaders from Sub-Saharan Africa who have established records of accomplishment in promoting innovation and positive change in their organizations, institutions, communities and countries. 

IU successfully hosted the civic leadership track in 2016, led by the Office of International Development. The 2017 cohort will come to Indiana in mid-June as part of a larger group of 1,000 Mandela Washington fellows hosted at institutions across the United States this summer. The highly competitive program attracted more than 64,000 applications this year.

“The visit of the first cohort of Mandela scholars in Bloomington last year generated a six-week-long series of powerful, engaged discussions with community and business leaders, with educators and students, and with other members of the community,” said David Zaret, IU vice president for international affairs. “We found that we had much to learn from each other. I look forward to another opportunity to get to know the bright, young African leaders of tomorrow.”

Working closely with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational Affairs and its implementing partner, IREX, host institutions have designed academic programs that will challenge and empower these inspiring young leaders from Africa.

“Hosting these young Africans has been inspiring and is an investment in a new generation of young leaders who shape the continent’s future, and it reinforces IU’s global engagement toward increased connections and mutual understanding,” said Teshome Alemneh, IU associate vice president for international development, who is directing the IU fellows program.

IU has diverse, cross-sector expertise in civic leadership, social entrepreneurship, public policy and strong community partnerships to promote deeper collaboration between the United States and Africa now and in the future.

“The program is a unique opportunity for IU to contribute toward a lifelong engagement as our future is increasingly linked and to building an enduring partnership between the United States and Africa," Alemneh said. "We will learn as much from the fellows as these young Africans will learn from us and about American values, traditions and culture, our system of governance and government, and experience in civic engagement.”

Fellows will meet with faculty from the IU Bloomington and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campuses, as well as the surrounding communities. The Office of International Development has partnered with dozens of institutions across Indiana to provide this group a comprehensive experience. They include the cities of Bloomington and Indianapolis, Ivy Tech Community College, Cook Medical, Habitat for Humanity, Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard, Girls & Boys Club, Lilly Family Foundation, Bradford Woods, the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center and the Indianapolis Urban League.

At the end of the institutes, all of the fellows will gather in Washington, D.C., for a summit; select fellows will also spend six weeks in professional development training with U.S. non-governmental organizations, private companies and government agencies.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is a U.S. government program that is supported in its implementation by IREX. For more information, visit the Mandela Washington Fellowship website or join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #YALI2017. 

IU successfully hosted Mandela Washington Fellows in 2016, with activities at both IU Bloomington and IUPUI.

IU successfully hosted Mandela Washington Fellows in 2016, with activities at both IU Bloomington and IUPUI.

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Media Contacts

George Vlahakis

Teshome Alemneh

Genevieve Pritchard