Forty-six South Africans have been invited to participate in the first ever Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI) Washington Fellowship. These outstanding young South African leaders will travel to the U.S. this month (June) with over 450 other young African leaders for a six week program at one of 20 prestigious U.S. universities followed by a conference in Washington, DC hosted by President Obama.
The South African recipients were selected from almost 4,000 applicants and represent an extraordinary, diverse group of leaders already making important contributions in entrepreneurship, public administration, and community service in their communities.
“Together with President Obama, I congratulate this outstanding group of 46 young South African leaders who will represent their country on this first year of the Washington Fellowship, “ said U.S. Ambassador to South Africa Patrick H. Gaspard. “The participants from South Africa are among the most inspiring and talented young people in the country and we are excited to provide them with this opportunity to network with other leaders on the continent and in the U.S.”
“Our only regret is that because of space constraints we were not able to send all of the qualified and worthy candidates who applied this year,” continued Ambassador Gaspard. “But this is only the first year of this important initiative for our government in Africa. So I encourage all unsuccessful applicants to reapply next year and also to consider our other educational and professional exchange programs which can be found on our website: southafrica.usembassy.gov.”
Participants will be departing for Washington in mid-June and returning in August.
President Obama announced the Washington Fellowship at a Town Hall with young African leaders on June 29 in Soweto last year. The 500 Washington Fellows will arrive on June 14 for six weeks of academic coursework and training at 20 of America’s top universities. On July 28-30, they will participate in a Presidential Summit for the Fellows convened by President Obama in Washington, DC. One hundred of the Fellows will stay on to participate in internships in the United States. Africa-based professional development, networking, and community engagement opportunities will be made available for all of the Fellows upon their return to their home countries.
Any citizen or resident of sub-Saharan Africa between 25 and 35 years was eligible to apply for the program. In this inaugural year, almost 50,000 candidates completed applications.
In a message to all those applied for the fellowship President Obama said, “I launched this effort because I believe that the future of Africa will be defined by extraordinary young people like you, and the United States wants to be your partner. At our town halls at the White House and in Soweto, and in my meetings with young people across Africa, you’ve shown me that you have the talent, the drive, and the determination to become the next generation of African leaders.”
In addition to announcing those selected for the Washington Fellowship this year, President Obama also announced this week the Young African Leaders Initiative Network – or YALI Network, a virtual community that connects young African leaders with resources from the U.S. government and to one another. Anyone can sign up to receive updates and other opportunities available for young African leaders from the U.S. government by going to this link: Join the YALI Network.