The Obama Administration’s Young African Leaders’ Initiative (YALI) is a long-term effort to invest in the next generation of African leaders and strengthen partnerships between the United States and Africa. This wide-ranging effort has been led by the White House and the U.S. Department of State in partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Peace Corps. The next phase of YALI will develop a prestigious network of leaders across critical sectors, cement stronger ties to the United States, and offer follow-on leadership opportunities in Africa, with the goal of strengthening democratic institutions and spurring economic growth. The Department of State has supported the Initiative through a series of high-profile forums with youth leaders including the President’s Young African Leaders Forum (August 2010), First Lady’s Young African Women Leaders Forum (June 2011), and Young African Leaders Innovation Summit and Mentoring Partnership (2012) in addition to more than 2,000 subsequent youth programs in sub-Saharan Africa.
The President’s Young Leaders Initiative has been developed variety of approaches and programs have been tried and tested in Washington, at U.S. Embassies and USAID mission in Africa, and by the most important element – young African leaders. The essential elements of the program, now taking root and generating sustaining momentum include:
Response From Young African Leaders: Young leaders in sub-Saharan Africa are responding to U.S. efforts to empower youth, convene dialogues, and foster networks by taking advantage of these opportunities to establish their own platforms to impact their communities. Since 2010, the State Department has supported approximately 160 exchange participants through an International Visitors Leadership Program specifically designed for young African leaders under the age of 35. The State Department has also awarded more than $750,000 in small grants to alumni groups supporting youth development in Africa—many of these projects are developed and implemented by YALI alumni. In 2012 USAID awarded two grants totaling $1.3 million to support the core principles of YALI, allowing significant and ongoing investments in young leaders including professional training, access to mentorship, and networking opportunities in Africa. As the U.S. Government continues to partner with young leaders through this Presidential Initiative, these efforts will increase U.S. public and private sector engagement with the continent and enrich young leaders potential to contribute to economic, political, and social development of Africa.
For more information on the Young African Leaders initiative please contact YoungAfricanLeaders@state.gov.