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."

2018 Dartmouth MWF at the President's House

Dartmouth's 2018 Mandela Washington Fellows with President Phil Hanlon and Gail Gentes. (Photo by Lars Blackmore)

2017 Dartmouth MWF on the Low Ropes Course

Dartmouth's 2018 Mandela Washington Fellows participating in a team building activity at the Storrs Pond Low Ropes Course. (Photo by Lars Blackmore)

2017 Dartmouth MWF at Ben & Jerry's

Dartmouth's 2017 Mandela Washington Fellows on a business site visit to the Ben & Jerry's headquarters in Waterbury, VT. 

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)

From 2014-18, 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). Since 2014, 3,000 Fellows have participated in the program. Dartmouth's 125 alumni Fellows represented 38 countries.  

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.  The 2018 program, the last Dartmouth/Dickey hosted, brought a total of 700 Fellows to 28 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 focused on business and entrepreneurship. We presented two academic components that complemented one another: an intensive design-thinking workshop, followed by an entrepreneurship course. Fellows left 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.)

To see videos and photos from the experiences of our past cohorts of Mandela Washington Fellows, see the links in the right sidebar. To learn about our past Fellows, see the links in the left sidebar. 


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 2018 Fellows represent 20 Sub-Saharan African countries.

View photos (from our 2017 cohort) and videos of the Dartmouth YALI experience.

Read the press release on Dartmouth's cohort of 2018 Mandela Washington Fellows

The John Sloan Dickey Center