10 best scholarships and fellowships to pursue in 2020

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In no particular order, we have listed below some of the prestigious scholarships and fellowships to try in 2020 and beyond. They are highly competitive and the best thing you can do is to prepare yourself now.

1. Mandela Washington Fellowship

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, begun in 2014. It is the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) that empowers young people through academic coursework, leadership training, and networking.

In 2019, the Fellowship provided 700 outstanding young leaders from Sub-Saharan Africa with the opportunity to hone their skills at a U.S. college or university with support for professional development after they return home.

If you’re thinking of applying for the fellowship, you better prepare now as the application season is fast approaching.

2. Chevening Scholarships and Fellowships

Funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and partner organisations, Chevening offers two types of award – Chevening Scholarships and Chevening Fellowships – the recipients of which are personally selected by British embassies and high commissions throughout the world.

Chevening offers a unique opportunity for future leaders, influencers, and decision-makers from all over the world to develop professionally and academically, network extensively, experience UK culture, and build lasting positive relationships with the UK.

If you have ambition, leadership potential, and a strong academic background, we encourage you to apply during the application window.

3. Obama Foundation Leaders: Africa Programme

The Leaders: Africa program seeks to build a growing network of innovative and ethical changemakers who will drive positive change in their communities, the continent, and the world.

The Obama Foundation Leaders: Africa program inspires, empowers, and connects emerging leaders from across the African continent through a core set of shared values and leadership skills. Together, they for a network of innovative and ethical change-makers and positive role models who will be prepared to create tangible solutions to the biggest challenges in their communities, countries, and continent.

The Obama Foundation is committed to recruiting a diverse cohort of Leaders, and encourages all individuals to apply regardless of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, sexual orientation, political affiliation, or disability status.

4. Y Combinator Startup School

Startup School is a free, 10-week, online course. It’s designed for any startup founder who would like to get help through the earliest, most difficult challenges of starting a company

Founders may choose to join the Startup School community and meet with an advisor on a weekly basis, or to simply follow along with the course by watching the lectures and materials. In both cases, the class is completely free.

The goal is to help everyone, regardless of who or where they are, start their startup. The materials from the Startup School, like those from previous years, remains online after the course finishes as a permanent resource for all startup founders.

5. The Atlas Corps Fellowship

The Atlas Corps Fellowship is a 12-18 month Fellowship in the United States for the world’s top social change leaders. Fellows serve full-time at Host Organizations to develop leadership skills and learn effective practices through the Atlas Corps Global Leadership Lab professional development series and networking opportunities with other Fellows.

Atlas Service Corps, Inc. (Atlas Corps), started in 2006, is an international network of social sector leaders and organizations that promotes innovation, cooperation, and solutions to address the world’s 21st-century challenges.

Participants in this prestigious fellowship receive health insurance, flight and visa costs, and a living stipend to cover basic expenses (food, local transportation, and shared housing).

6. Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme

The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) is an African private-sector-led philanthropy focused on empowering African entrepreneurs.

The TEF Entrepreneurship Programme is open to startup entrepreneurs, with innovative business ideas or businesses that have been in existence for less than 3 years, in any sector, from across Africa.

The Programme is built on a 7-pillar model, a unique holistic system of effective and intensive support to the African entrepreneurs, consisting of startup enterprise toolkit, online mentoring, online resource library, meet-ups, TEF Entrepreneurship Forum, seed capital and alumni network.

The TEF Entrepreneurship Programme is the $100million commitment of Tony O. Elumelu, CON, an African investor and philanthropist, to identify, mentor, and fund 10,000 African entrepreneurs in 10 years, with the goal of creating millions of jobs and revenue on the continent.  With the support of partners, the Programme has scaled its commitment beyond its own commitment of funding 10,000 African entrepreneurs.

7. One Young World Summit

One Young World is the global forum for young leaders. One Young World identifies, promotes and connects the world’s most impactful young leaders to create a better world, with more responsible, more effective leadership.

The annual One Young World Summit convenes the brightest young talent from every country and sector, working to accelerate social impact. Delegates from 190+ countries are counselled by influential political, business and humanitarian leaders such as Justin Trudeau, Paul Polman and Meghan Markle, amongst many other global figures.

Young leaders are selected to attend the Summit via competitive selection processes, based on proven leadership ability and impact. Building a diverse international community is One Young World’s priority with a wide range of scholarship schemes available.

At the end of the Summit, Delegates become One Young World Ambassadors. They return to their communities and organisations with the means and motivation to make a difference, accessing the global network of 10,000+ young leaders to accelerate existing initiatives or establish new ventures.

8. Southern Africa Startup Awards

The SASAWARDS is a circuit of the Global Startup Awards which shines an annual  spotlight on tech startups in regions across the globe. The regional awards are focused on unearthing and rewarding the very best from within their respective ecosystems – from the startups themselves, through to the people behind them, and the organisations that work alongside these visionaries to make the great things possible. 

Each individual regional award places a heavy focus on unearthing and rewards the very best from within their respective ecosystems & connecting each of the countries to create a stronger united brand.

The Awards are carried out in three rounds in each region. First, national nominations are opened, then nominees are shortlisted, then announced for the voting process to start.

A public vote, together with a judging process by the jury panel will determine the national winners in each category from each participating country. The national winners will move on to the Grand Finale for the selection of the regional winners. Finally, the regional winners will compete on a global level at the Global Startup Awards.

9. The Fulbright Scholarship Program

The Fulbright Scholarship Program is the largest Fulbright program within Africa that provides financial assistance for a maximum of two years of study toward a graduate degree in a U.S. university, or for participation in a non-degree research or nonacademic professional program.

It is designed primarily to strengthen African universities through higher degree training for faculty members. Applications are also accepted from prospective candidates in public and private educational and cultural institutions, independent research institutes, and professional institutions.

Awards are granted for study toward one degree, for a maximum of two years, or for participation in a non-degree research or professional program for up to one academic year.

Grant awards guarantee full funding for: round-trip travel, insurance coverage, tuition and fees, maintenance allowance, books and supplies, and course-required field trips.

10. TED Fellows Programme

The TED Fellows Program convenes young world-changers, academics and trailblazers who have shown unusual accomplishment and exceptional courage in their respective disciplines, selected through an intensive application, interview and research process.

The program provides transformational support to a global network of 470+ visionaries – scientists, academic researchers, artists, activists, entrepreneurs, doctors, journalists and inventors – who collaborate and share new ideas and research across disciplines to create positive change around the world.

Every year, through a rigorous open application process, TED selects a group of rising stars to participate in one of the most competitive and highly selective fellowship programs in the world. When reviewing applicants and nominees, TED deploys a dedicated staff of onsite researchers and analysts as well as a team of external fact-checkers, thought leaders and experts to collectively determine each submission’s level of innovation, expertise and potential for impact.

Once selected, Fellows receive transformational support. Fellows participate in professional coaching and mentoring and work with a public relations expert dedicated to sharing their latest projects with the world. TED Fellows participate in an active online network and attend regional meet-ups and retreats for an explosion of conversation and ideas.