Young African Leaders Initiative

The Mandela Washington Fellows Program is at the center of the United States government's Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), a State Department-led program that is working to provide opportunities to "spur growth, strengthen democratic systems and enhance peace and security."

2017 Dartmouth Fellows_President's House

The 2017 Mandela Washington Fellows at Dartmouth with President Phil Hanlon and Gail Gentes. (Photo by Robert Gill)


Dartmouth's 2016 Mandela Washington Fellows participating in a team building activity at the Storrs Pond Low Ropes Course. (Photo by Lars Blackmore)

AMB Carson Dinner

Dartmouth's 2015 Mandela Washington Fellows at a dinner discussion with Former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Ambassador Johnnie Carson. (Photo by Lars Blackmore)

Kenny Tonga Design Thinking

Dartmouth 2015 Mandela Washington Fellow Kenny Tonga of Zambia discusses his design thinking project with Joel Almeida of Cabo Verde. (Photo by Emily Albrecht '16)

During the summers of 2014, 2015, and 2016, the Dickey Center, with multiple partner organizations across Dartmouth, hosted 25 young leaders from countries across Sub-Saharan Africa. They represented a wide range of backgrounds with an incredible array of experiences. These young leaders were among the first cohorts of the "Mandela Washington Fellowship," which is at the center of the United States government's Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI). Dartmouth is again hosting 25 Fellows in the summer of 2017. This year's cohort of Fellows come to us from 19 countries and have a wide variety of skills and interests. 

YALI is a State Department-led program (overseen by the International Research & Exchanges Board—IREX) that is working to provide opportunities to "spur growth, strengthen democratic systems and enhance peace and security."  The goals of the Mandela Washington Fellowship are:

  •     build and sustain a network of young Sub-Saharan leaders
  •     strengthen ties between Sub-Saharan Africa and the United States
  •     prepare Fellows for future leadership opportunities in Africa

The Mandela Washington Fellowship is an incredibly selective program. The first year saw a 1% acceptance rate.  With the expansion of the program from 500 to 1,000 Fellows, Dartmouth is now one of 37 universities throughout the United States to host cohorts who participate in institutes centered on one of three topics: business and entrepreneurship, civic leadership, and public management.

Dartmouth’s Mandela Washington Fellows Institute focuses on business and entrepreneurship. We present two academic components that complement one another: an intensive design-thinking workshop, followed by an entrepreneurship course. Fellows leave Dartmouth with a core understanding of business and entrepreneurship gained through intensive classroom work, hands-on experiences with innovative design thinking, and an integrated set of opportunities to explore concepts of civic engagement, team building, and leadership. (They also enjoy multiple opportunities for cultural and social activities in the setting of a beautiful rural Vermont/New Hampshire summer.)

Read the press release on the 2017 Mandela Washington Fellowship at Dartmouth.


As Dartmouth Mandela Washington Fellows returned to their home countries, many created opportunities for Dartmouth undergraduates, graduate students, and post-graduates to intern in their business ventures. Click here for more information on the opportunities provided in recent years.


Dartmouth's 2017 Fellows represent 19 Sub-Saharan countries.

View photos and videos of the Dartmouth YALI experience.

The John Sloan Dickey Center