2020 Mandela Washington Fellowship Reciprocal Exchange Program

Deadline: October 15, 2019.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leadersthe flagship program of the U.S. Government’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI)was created in 2014 to invest in the next generation of African leaders. The Fellowship’s Reciprocal Exchange component provides Americans with the opportunity to travel to Africa to build upon strategic partnerships and professional connections developed during Fellows’ time in the United States.  



1. American professionals participating in the Reciprocal Exchange must be U.S. citizens currently living in the United States.  

2. American professionals may not be employees or immediate family members of employees of the U.S. Government (including a U.S. Embassy, USAID, and other U.S. Government entities).  

3. Fellow Alumni must be considered alumni of the Fellowship by the Department of State and must be in good standing. They may not be employees or immediate family members of employees of the U.S. Government.  

4. Fellow Alumni must reside in the proposed project country and be present for the full duration of the project’s implementation. 

5. American professionals, including previous Award recipients, and Fellow Alumni from all cohorts are eligible to apply.  

6. Preference will be given to Americans and Fellow Alumni who have not previously participated in the Reciprocal Exchange. 



Eligible applications will be reviewed using the following selection criteria:

  • Demonstrate impact on the Fellow Alumni’s home organization, community, and/or country;
  • Demonstrate impact on the American professional’s home organization and community;
  • Demonstrate joint engagement between the Fellow Alumni and American professional in project design and implementation;
  • Articulate clearly the need for travel by the American professional to support the project;
  • Provide measurable goals and clearly specify project activities during travel; and
  • Demonstrate continued impact of project after the American professional has returned to the United States.

Preference will be given to applications that also demonstrate or reflect some of the following: 

  • Concrete benefit to U.S. companies, communities, or organizations (e.g. identification of new business markets or export opportunities, development of institutional partnerships or student/scholar exchanges, presentation of findings to American professional, community, or academic audiences, etc.). 
  • A history of collaboration between the American professional and the Alumni as a result of the Mandela Washington Fellowship. 
  • Proposals for the implementation phase of project execution. 
  • Project teams with professional expertise relevant to the proposed activities. 
  • Interest in both the cultural and professional exchange aspects of the collaboration. 
  • Contribution to furthering a pre-existing project or initiative. 
  • Budget cost-sharing. 
  • Engagement of Mandela Washington Fellowship Alumni networks. 
  • Awardees, Fellow Alumni, and/or project beneficiaries who represent traditionally underrepresented groups or communities.  



1. Maximum Grant Award: $5,000 per American professional

2. Disbursement of Funds: Up to $5,000 per Awardee will be provided to travel to Sub-Saharan Africa and to support approved program-related costs.  Funds will not be disbursed to Fellow Alumni.  Award funds are disbursed in two installments, contingent upon receipt of required deliverables.  American Awardees will receive funds as a check or wire transfer to their personal bank accounts; as such, Awardees will be asked to provide IREX with their bank information as well as a signed Terms and Conditions document, which will outline the terms for the Award. 

3. Procurement of Visa: Awardees will be provided with optional visa procurement support by an IREXpreferred vendor when visas are required by the project host country. 

  •  For Awardees who use this service: IREX will cover the cost of this visa service as well as the cost of the visa fee itself.  Ithe Awardee(s) plan on utilizing this visa procurement service, visa costs do not need to be included in the project budget.
  • For Awardees who plan to opt-out: It is not required to work with our preferred visa procurement vendor and Awardees will have the option to opt-out of using this service. If the Awardee(s) plan to opt-out of this service, visa costs must be included as a line item in the project budget.



Reciprocal Exchange Applications must include the following attachments. Applications missing any attachment will be considered incomplete and therefore ineligible.

  • Two Complete Application Forms: One from the American professional, one from the Fellow Alumni
    • Both the American professional and the Fellow Alumni must each complete the application form for the proposal to be considered complete.
    • All responses must be in English.
    • Include your full, legal name as it is spelled in your international passport.
    • Provide complete contact information, including postal index codes for all addresses, and country and area codes for telephone numbers.
    • Answers to essay questions should not exceed 300 words (approximately 2000 characters) per question.
  • Complete Work PlanAmerican professionals and Fellow Alumni must collaborate on the submitted work plan.  Please include as much detail as possible.
    • Eligible work plans must use the provided template and comply with the requirements outlined in the template’s Guidelines tab.
  • Complete Budget: All costs should be in U.S. dollars.
    • Eligible budgets must use the provided template and comply with the requirements outlined in the template’s Guidelines tab.
    • Budgets should reflect total estimated costs of project implementation and Awardee travel, inclusive of expenses that will be provided in-kind and/or through cost-share.
    • See budget template for important details on Fly America Compliance and visa requirements for travelers to Nigeria.
  • Professional Resumes for Fellow Alumni and American Professional(s): Resumes should demonstrate that the applicants are well-qualified to implement the proposed project. They must be submitted in English and may be no longer than two pages.




Click here to apply

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