Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Competition 2021 Call For Submission

Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Competition 2021 Call For Submission

Description of Objectives

In celebration of the 10th anniversary of YALI, the U.S. Department of State, in partnership with the Wilson Center, is pleased to announce the YALI 10 Year Anniversary Competition under the theme “YALI at 10: My Life, My Community, and My World.”

Selected submissions will be showcased at the YALI 10th anniversary virtual summit in May 2021, where we will celebrate a decade of YALI change-makers and their achievements.  Submissions may include videos, short essays, poems, songs, spoken word, and sketches.  They may also be showcased at a Live Stream event scheduled in fall 2021 or by the Department of State.

YALI alumni are invited to describe or demonstrate how YALI has impacted your personal and professional development, and how you’ve made a difference in your communities and around the world.  Individuals or alumni groups may compete and submissions may be in written, video, audio, or multimedia format. Individual submissions should correspond to one of YALI’s three curriculum tracks. Group submissions may be cross-cutting across tracks.

Established in 2010, the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) is the U.S. Government’s signature effort to invest in the next generation of African leaders.  Over the past decade, YALI grew from 115 young leaders to include more than 24,000 alumni of the Mandela Washington Fellowship exchange program, four Regional Leadership Centers (RLCs) in Africa, and an extensive digital community called the YALI Network with more than 650,000 members. These programs aim to strengthen democratic institutions and good governance, spur economic growth and prosperity, and foster peace and security in Africa.


Entries from this contest may be announced and promoted on various Woodrow Wilson Center, YALI, and Department of State Social Media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn but contest entry and administration will take place through e-mail.  Contest winners may also be announced on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn; however Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are not partners or sponsors of the contest.  Contestants are reminded that by participating in the contest and uploading content to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn they are bound by Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn’s Terms of Service and any agreements with Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn contained therein.

How to Enter

Submission Content Guidelines:

All submissions must adhere to the following guidelines:

Demonstrate why YALI matters by addressing one or all of the following questions:

  • How am I different because of my involvement with YALI?
  • What has been the impact of YALI on my personal and/or professional development?
  • What did I learn in YALI that I hope to share with others professionally?
  • How has YALI impacted my community and country?

You may want to sit and reflect on some of these questions to help to inspire you in creating your submission. Successful submissions will show sincerity and high-quality expression of thought.

  • What does it mean to be an exceptional leader, and what did your YALI experience teach you about leadership?
  • In which ways have you demonstrated service leadership after your YALI experience?
  • Whose leadership inspires and motivates you, and why?
  • What are the most difficult choices and/or trade-offs you’ve had to make as a leader or you have watched a leader make?
  • What is the most challenging feedback you’ve received and what was the impact and outcome?
  • What questions are you currently wrestling with in your business or organization and leadership – and how is YALI a part of your ability to solve the problem?
  • What advice do you have for the next generation of young African leaders?

Correspond to one of YALI’s three curriculum tracks:

  • Business
  • Civic Engagement
  • Public Management

Submissions of various types are welcome in Portuguese, French, or English, but should comply with the following guidelines:

Personal Reflection Essay or Poem

  • Submissions of no more than 350 words
  • Essays must be typed in 12-point Times New Roman and submitted in Microsoft Word format
  • The reflection must be the original work of the applicant. As personal reflection essays, citations are not required, but if quoting or citing someone, you should provide a full citation at the end of the document (not part of the 350 word limit)


  • Original photography or photo collection submissions
  • Photos should be in JPEG or PNG format and ideally in high resolution
  • Photo dimensions: 1024×768 pixels or larger
  • Submit photos no larger than 7 MBs
  • Photos or photo collections should include a description of 350 words or less explaining why they were chosen.

Video (Music, Spoken Word, etc.)

  • Video/Music recording submissions of no more than 3 minutes in length
  • Video resolution should be at least 1080p (1920 x 1080) or 4K (3840 × 2160)
  • Videos should be in MOV, MP4, WMV, AVI, AVCHD, FLV, F4V, or SWF format

See Content Requirements below for additional guidelines.

Submission Instructions
  • Complete and attach the following short form including your bio line (50 words) that includes your name, country, YALI Affiliation, and contact information. Submission Form:
  • Essay and photo submissions should be addressed to [email protected]  and submitted no later than February 28, 2021. Early submissions are encouraged.
  • To submit a video, upload the video to YouTube under your own username, captioning the video with the hashtag #YALIat10.  The video submission can be uploaded in any format accepted by YouTube, but should not be longer than three minutes.
  • A submission must be an original video, taken/produced by the contestant.  Email a link to your submission to [email protected] and complete the submission form linked above no later than February 28, 2021.
  • Submissions will be accepted in French, Portuguese, and English.
  • Individual contestants may submit no more than one individual submission.
  • Alumni groups may submit no more than one group submission.
  • Individuals may submit up to one individual submission and one group submission.
  • Questions? Contact [email protected]

Participation in the contest is deemed as acceptance of these Official Contest Rules.  Once an entry is submitted, it is considered a final submission and may not be modified, edited or replaced.

The contest commences on January 16, 2021 at 01:00 Eastern Standard Time in the United States (Washington D.C).This is equivalent to:

  • 06:00 Greenwich Mean Time (GMT/UTC) (Dakar, Abidjan, Accra)
  • 07:00 West Africa Time (Algiers, Lagos, Kinshasa, Luanda)
  • 08:00 Central Africa Time/Egypt Standard Time/South African Standard Time (Cairo, Kigali, Johannesburg, Maputo)
  • 09:00 East Africa Time (Addis Ababa, Nairobi, Dar es Salaam, Antananarivo).

The contest closes on February 28, 2021.  Judging begins on March 8, 2021 and ends on March 26, 2021. For more information visit the YALI 10 Year Anniversary page on the official website of the Wilson Center:      

Content Requirements

General Requirements for All Submissions:

  1. Submissions must not contain obscenity, explicit sexual material, nudity, profanity, graphic violence, calls or incitement to violence, commercial solicitation or commercial promotion.  Submissions must conform to local law and must not contain content or images that could be considered abusive, inflammatory, denigrating, or disrespectful to any of the Contest Sponsors, or to any groups, individuals or institutions.  Submissions must adhere both in appearance and in fact to the norms of civil discourse.  In other words, the content of all submissions must be suitable for a global, public audience.
  2. Submissions must be original content created by the contestant and must not contain any elements that are protected by someone else’s copyright or otherwise subject to third party intellectual property or proprietary rights, including privacy and publicity rights (except as expressly permitted below in (d)).  Contest Sponsors recognize no allowance for “fair use” of copyrighted material, nor do Contest Sponsors recognize allowance for use of licensed materials created or owned by a third party.
  3. Contest Sponsors reserve the right to disqualify, at their sole and absolute discretion, any submission that does not adhere to these criteria and to the intent and substance of these Official Contest Rules.
  4. In the event of any question or difference of views regarding compliance with, interpretation, or application of these content requirements or other provisions of these Official Contest Rules, Contest Sponsors reserve the exclusive right to resolve such questions or differences of views in their sole discretion. 

Requirements for Photos

  1. By submitting a photograph to the contest, the contestant affirms that he or she has obtained written consent from all individuals whose image or likeness appears in the photograph (or from the individuals’ parent/legal guardian if any such individuals are considered a minor in their country of residence), and that he or she has obtained the necessary rights, licenses, consents, and permissions to use all material such as music, images, text and other content in the submission.  The contestant further affirms that he or she is prepared to provide reliable documentation of any and all such consents, licenses, etc., upon request.  Failure to obtain such rights, license consents, and permissions may result in the disqualification of the photo submission at the Contest Sponsors’ sole and absolute discretion.
  2. Technical Format Requirements for Photos: Photo submissionsmust be in JPEG or PNG format, 7megabytes or smaller, but photo size must be no smaller than 1024×768 pixels.  Submissions should not have any visible watermarks, signatures, or personally identifiable information.
  3. Retouching of Photos:  The submitted photograph cannot be significantly retouched: nothing in the photograph (people, animals, scenery, objects, etc.) may be altered, removed, augmented or rearranged.  Cropping is permitted, as is modest darkening or lightening of parts of the image.

Requirements for Videos

  1. By submitting a video to the contest, the contestant affirms that he or she has obtained written consent from all individuals whose image or likeness appears in the video (or from the individuals’ parent/legal guardian if any such individuals are considered a minor in their country of residence), and that he or she has obtained the necessary rights, licenses, consents, and permissions to use all material such as music, images, text and other content in the submission.  The contestant further affirms that he or she is prepared to provide reliable documentation of any and all such consents, licenses, etc., upon request.  Failure to obtain such rights, license consents, and permissions may result in the disqualification of the video submission at the Contest Sponsors’ sole and absolute discretion.
  2. Editing of Video:  All conventional video-editing techniques are allowable.  Videos may be edited through any program and in any format, but must be compressed and submitted in a format accepted by the YouTube platform.


  1. Competition is open to all alumni of YALI programs, including the 2010 President’s Forum for Young African Leaders, 2011 First Lady’s Forum for Young African Women Leaders, 2012 Innovation Summit and Mentoring Partnership for Young African Leaders, Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, and the YALI Regional Leadership Centers.  Contestants may not be U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents.
  2. Contestants must be at least 18years old on the date of entry into the contest.
  3. The individual submitting the entry will be considered the contestant and will be the only individual eligible to compete.  Alumni groups such as cohorts or alumni associations are eligible to compete, either as an entity, or through representation by an individual.  In order to be eligible, the contestant must provide complete and accurate information.
  4. The following individuals are not eligible to participate in the contest:  Employees, interns, directors, and officers of the Contest Sponsors, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn,or the U.S. Government; or any employees, interns, directors, officers of any agencies, companies or entities involved in the administration, advertising, judging, creation, development, execution, and/or fulfillment of the contest, and the immediate family members (defined as spouse, recognized partner, parent, child, sibling, and spouse or “step” of each) and those living in the same household of each such individual.
  5. Once a submission has been accepted for entry into the contest, the contestant’s name (or User ID, if the contestants wishes to remain anonymous) and country may be publicly identified at the sole discretion of the contestants.

Selection of Winners

  1. All submissions are subject to pre-screening by Contest Sponsors to ensure compliance with these Official Contest Rules.  Any submissions out of compliance will not be posted.  Contest Sponsors reserve the right in their sole and absolute discretion to verify in the final analysis whether a potential finalist or potential winning submission has fully complied with these Official Contest Rules before posting to the contest site, recognizing as winner, etc.


  1. The contest jury is comprised of three Public Diplomacy Staff in the Bureau of African Affairs and three staff from the Woodrow Wilson Center: Special Coordinator for the Young African Leaders Initiative, Exchanges and Cultural Coordinator, and Public Diplomacy Desk Officer, Africa Program Director, and a Wilson Center Senior Diplomatic Fellow.  U.S. Embassy and alumni representatives will also participate.

Judging Criteria:

  1. The contest jury will review all accepted submissions, and then meet to rank and select the winners. Entries will be judged along the following criteria:  `
  • Demonstration of the impact of YALI on the entrant’s life, community and world
  • Creativity of entry
  • Overall quality of submission
  • Meeting contest content and technical specifications
  1. Winners: Each winner and/or finalist will be required to sign and return to Contest Sponsors a statement of eligibility and liability/publicity release and provide a short bio (where applicable) and a brief statement about the submission; otherwise the winner and/or finalist will be ineligible for any prize.  The inability of Contest Sponsors to contact a potential winner may result in disqualification and/or selection of an alternate winner from among all remaining eligible submissions.
  2. Winners and finalists will be notified via the e-mail address they provided upon entry.  Winners and finalists may be announced on the Embassy website and/or social media pages.  Winners and finalists may choose to use an alias instead of their real name and may request other identifying information be kept private.
  3. Winning content may be displayed on the Department of State, USAID, IREX, and Wilson Center’s websites and YALI TV social media properties.

Liability and Rights

  1. Contest Sponsors do not endorse any submissions or messages expressed therein, and Contest Sponsors expressly disclaim any and all liability in connection with the submitted material including disputes between collaborators related to a submission.
  2. The contest and its sponsors do not permit copyright infringing activities or infringement of any other intellectual property rights, and Contest Sponsors reserve the right to remove and disqualify any submission they deem to be in violation of another party’s copyright or other intellectual property rights.
  3. Contestants retain sole ownership of their original work.  The submission remains the intellectual property of the contestant, and the Contest Sponsors and U.S. Government make no claim of copyright as to the work of any individual who enters the contest.  Contestant specifically agrees to give the Contest Sponsors permission to use all content submitted for purposes of judging the contest.  Finalists and/or winners will be required to grant Contest Sponsors with proper attribution through whatever means they deem appropriate, a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sub-licensable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, and/or display the submission, in any media formats and through any media channels in perpetuity in connection with the activities and operations of the contest.
  4. The contestant assumes sole responsibility for the contest submission and the material contained in it, and for any consequences of submitting or posting it.
  5. Contest Sponsors reserve the right at any time, to verify the validity of entries and of contestants and to disqualify any contestant or entry deemed not in compliance with these Official Contest Rules.  Contest Sponsors also reserve the right to request further documentation, at their sole and absolute discretion, to verify eligibility and compliance with these Official Contest Rules.
  6. If a prize or any portion thereof is unavailable, Contest Sponsors, in their sole discretion, reserve the right to substitute the prize with another prize of equal or greater value and/or specification.
  7. Contest Sponsors reserve the right, at any time and in their sole discretion, to disqualify and/or deem ineligible any individual who they reasonably believe (i) has violated the Official Contest Rules; (ii) has violated the terms of use of the platform, or (iii) is acting in a bad faith, or in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person.
  8. Contest Sponsors reserve the right to modify, suspend, terminate or cancel the contest at their discretion for any reason.
  9. Contestant agrees to indemnify and hold harmless Contest Sponsors, their parent, subsidiary and affiliated companies, officers, directors, employees, interns,  and agents, from and against any and all claims, damages, obligations, losses, liabilities, costs or debts, and expenses (including but not limited to attorney’s fees) arising from (i) violation of these Official Contest Rules;  (ii) violation of any third party right, including without limitation any copyright, trademark, intellectual property, privacy, publicity, or other proprietary right in connection with the contest; or (iii) any claim that a contest submission caused any harm, including financial, to any third party.  These indemnifications and hold harmless obligations will survive indefinitely beyond the conclusion of the contest.
  10. The conduct, judging, and awarding of prizes will be carried out in full compliance with applicable U.S. law and host country law.  In the event of a conflict between U.S. law and host country law, U.S. law shall apply.
  11. Contest Sponsors and the U.S. Government will take reasonable measures to protect privacy data, personally identifiable information, and other sensitive data of contestants.  Contact information provided by contestants may be stored by the Bureau of African Affairs and may be used to contact contestants for other purposes in the future.  This information may be shared with the co-sponsors of the contest and/or be made available to third parties to the extent permitted by law.
  12. Contest Sponsors assume no liability or responsibility for any loss or harm resulting from any user’s participation in or attempt to participate in the contest or ability or inability to upload, download, or otherwise access any information in connection with participating in the contest.  Contest Sponsors assume no responsibility or liability for technical problems, or technical malfunctions arising in connection with the operation of the contest, including: hardware or software errors; faulty computer, telephone, cable, satellite, network, electronic, wireless or Internet connectivity, or other online communication problems; errors or limitations of any Internet service providers, servers, hosts or providers; garbled, jumbled or faulty data transmissions; failure of any email transmissions to be sent or received; lost, late, delayed or intercepted email transmissions; inaccessibility of the contest site in whole or in part for any reason; traffic congestion on the Internet or the contest site; unauthorized human or non-human intervention in the operation of the contest, including without limitation, unauthorized tampering, hacking, theft, virus, bugs, worms; or destruction of any aspect of the contest, or loss, miscount, misdirection, inaccessibility or unavailability of an email account used in connection with the contest.
  13. Use of contest site is at user’s own risk.  Contest Sponsors are not responsible for any personal injury, property damage, or losses of any kind which may be sustained to computer equipment resulting from participation in the contest, use of the contest site or the downloading of information from the contest site.  By participating in the contest, the contestant releases Contest Sponsors from any and all claims arising from or relating to such contestant’s participation in the contest, whether directly or indirectly.
  14. Contest Sponsors are not liable in the event that any portion of the contest is cancelled or delayed due to weather, fire, strike, acts of war or terrorism, or any other reason.

For more information Visit official webage Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Competition 2021 Call For Submission

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