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UT to Host Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders

YALI Press Release Ford Fellows

The University of Texas at Austin has been selected as a host institution for the inaugural Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) and President Barack Obama’s signature effort to invest in the next generation of global leaders.

Beginning June 15, 25 competitively selected emerging entrepreneurs from Sub-Saharan Africa will attend a six-week academic institute at the university, part of a larger group of 500 Mandela Washington Fellows that will be hosted across the United States this summer. YALI participants are promising young leaders, ages 25-35, who have a proven record of promoting innovation and positive change in their organizations and communities.

“The motto of The University of Texas at Austin is, ‘What starts here changes the world,’ and we are constantly looking beyond the Forty Acres for other ways we can achieve that,” says Janet Ellzey, vice provost for international programs. “Hosting the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is one of those ways. We are honored to be selected as a host institution for the first year of this prestigious program.”

Launched in 2010, the Young African Leaders Initiative aims to support the next generation of global leaders as it spurs growth and prosperity, strengthens democratic governance, and enhances peace and security across Africa. Beginning in summer 2014, the Mandela Washington Fellowship will help empower participants through academic coursework, leadership training, networking, and more.

Leveraging top faculty and cutting-edge curricula, the university’s institute will focus on social enterprise and how technology and innovation play critical roles in entrepreneurship. By engaging in a challenging academic environment and creating professional networks within their fields, fellowship participants will further develop the skills they need to grow businesses and better serve their communities.

“This institute provides the opportunity to connect the best and brightest leaders from across Sub-Saharan Africa with entrepreneurial business leaders in Texas to create sustainable networks for economic opportunities now and into the future,” says Teri Albrecht, director of international student and scholar services.

Through a competitive process, The University of Texas at Austin was chosen by the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs as one of 20 Washington Fellowship host institutions that represent excellence and diversity in U.S. higher education. Each institution will host an academic and leadership institute this summer in one of three areas: business and entrepreneurship, civic leadership, or public management. The institutes will culminate in a summit hosted by President Obama in Washington, D.C., in late July.

Since 2010, the U.S. Department of State has hosted 15 exchanges for young African leaders and sponsored more than 1,200 Sub-Saharan scholars through educational and cultural affairs programs. President Obama announced the creation of the Mandela Washington Fellowship in South Africa in 2013.

For more information about the Mandela Washington Fellowship, visit

Interested in partnering with UT's Mandela Washington Fellowship program? Learn how.

By Jordan Schraeder

Photo by Darcy McGillicuddy