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The Presidential Precinct Washington Fellowship Program, Young African Leaders Initiative

President Obama welcomes YALI participants at the White House

On March 28, 2014, President Barack Obama introduced The Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, the exchange program of the president’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), and a major expansion of U.S. investment in the continent’s next cadre of leaders. Through this effort, the U.S. will develop a network of thousands of young African leaders across key sectors for Africa’s growth and development.

This program will bring over 500 young leaders to the United States each year, beginning in 2014, for leadership training, academic coursework and mentoring. It will create unique opportunities in Africa to put those new skills to practical use in propelling economic growth and prosperity and strengthening democratic institutions.

Poster listing the Washington Fellows Infographic about the YALI program

The Presidential Precinct, a consortium of six landmark Virginia institutions—Monticello, Highland, Montpelier, Morven, William & Mary, and the University of Virginia—has been selected to host 225 Washington Fellows over the next five years.

During the summer of 2014, the Presidential Precinct’s first cohort of Washington Fellows will participate in six weeks of leadership training, academic coursework and mentoring in Charlottesville, Orange and Williamsburg, Virginia.

President Obama launched the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) in 2010 as a signature initiative that supports young African leaders as they work to spur growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance, and enhance peace and security across the continent. Investing in the next generation of African leaders is critical to ensuring the success of Africa’s democracies and its economies.  One in three Africans is between the ages of 10 and 24, and approximately 60 percent of Africa’s total population is below the age of 35.  Through YALI, the United States is investing in the next generation of African leaders, and has committed significant resources to enhance leadership skills, bolster entrepreneurship, and connect young African leaders with one another, with the United States, and with the American people.

Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, home of the author of the Declaration of Independence, and a center for scholarship and discussion about American history. It is a powerful place for young African leaders to discover the tools and best practices of democratic societies and to convene dialogues about their own communities today. On July 2, 3rd and 4th, the Washington Fellows will have an opportunity to tour Thomas Jefferson’s three dimensional autobiography and explore the best documented, best researched, and best preserved plantation in North America—reflecting on the paradox of slavery in the age of liberty. The Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies will host discussions with international diplomats and leading scholars on the American Revolutionary era.  And, the fellows will see democracy in action during Monticello’s 52nd Annual Naturalization Ceremony and Independence Day Celebration, “the great birthday of our republic,” where they will hear a mosaic of stories told by America’s newest citizens from Afghanistan to Venezuela.


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