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University Chosen to Host Young African Leaders Initiative

Summer programs at Northwestern will focus on leadership and entrepreneurship

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University has been chosen as a host institution for the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). An Obama administration initiative, YALI is part of a long-term effort to support and develop young African leaders, strengthen partnerships between the United States and Africa and promote democratic governance across the continent.

“With nearly one in three Africans between the ages of 10 and 24 and approximately 60 percent of the continent’s total population below the age of 35, making investments in the future generation of leaders is imperative,” said Will Reno, director of Northwestern’s Program of African Studies and professor of political science in Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. 

Working with the University’s Farley Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, the Program of African Studies will host 25 YALI fellows for five summers, beginning 2014. At Northwestern, the young African leaders will participate in a six-week program in entrepreneurship and business.

These programs will include experiential learning opportunities with Chicago area centers for entrepreneurship in addition to academic coursework. On completion of the Northwestern program, the fellows will travel to Washington, D.C., for a summit with President Obama. They then have the option of beginning eight-week internships in the U.S., followed by continued opportunities in Africa.

The Department of State has supported the Young African Leaders Initiative through a series of high-profile forums with youth leaders, including the President’s Young African Leaders Forum in 2010, the First Lady’s Young African Women Leaders Forum in 2011 and the Young African Leaders Innovation Summit and Monitoring Partnership in 2012 in addition to more than 2,000 youth programs in sub-Saharan Africa.