YAALI

When one takes a look at the Howard University emblem, one of the first things to notice are the distinct words, Veritas et Utilitas—Latin, for truth and service. In addition to these two pillars, students are constantly reminded of the importance of leadership, excellence, and fulfilling the great legacy of Howard University to be world leaders.


The Young AfricanA Leadership Initiative (YAALI) at Howard University aligns with President Obama’s YALI initiative committed to investing in development partnerships in Africa. Our mission is to allow young Africana (African American, Caribbean, and Latin American) student leaders to obtain the skills, research and service learning experiences they need to be global citizens. Through learning, researching, and visiting Africa, the origin of civilization, students gain an educational and enlightening experience.

YAALI continues Howard University’s mission to produce global-minded citizens who can use their talents to search for knowledge and service the global community, through Travel, Service, Research, Education and Praxis. 

YAALI Girls

The Young AfricanA Leadership Initiative (YAALI) Girls edition for Spring 2017 at Howard University aligns with First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let Girls Learn Initiative to foster an enabling environment for adolescent girls’ education; and engage and equip girls to make life decisions and important contributions to society. 


Our mission is to similarly allow young Africana (African American, Caribbean, and Latin American) student leaders to obtain the skills, research and service learning experiences they need to be global citizens. Through learning, researching, and visiting African communities where girl’s education has often specifically lagged behind. Students will gain an educational and enlightening experience. 


Despite progress in recent years, girls continue to suffer severe disadvantage and exclusion in education systems throughout their lives. According to UNICEF, an estimated 31 million girls of primary school age and 32 million girls of lower secondary school age were out of school in 2013. Africa has the lowest proportion of countries with gender parity: only two out of 35 countries. While much progress has been made over the past 10 years in rectifying gender imbalances in education and development in sub-Saharan Africa, socio-cultural, economic and political challenges nevertheless still constitute barriers to girls’ education in the region.


YAALI Girls continues Howard University’s mission to produce global-minded citizens who can use their talents to search for knowledge and service the global community.

The focus of the educational curriculum requirements of YAALI Girls is to inform students about the historical, political, cultural, and economic challenges countries in Africa face in educating young girls. Before they set foot on the continent, YAALI Girls fellows are required to:

  • participate in the reading and discussion of a foundational text related to the selected country;
  • participate in domestic exposure to international affairs to enhance students' country-, region-, and culture-specific learning focused on geography, history, politics, literature, health, and communications surrounding adolescent education;
  • engage guest speakers and professors in seminars and culturally based trips;
  • participate in workshops and activities focused on international affairs; and
  • meet professionals in education, women rights and advocacy groups.

YAALI Compass

Sankofa Project

The YAALI Sankofa Project is a genealogical journey into your personal and communal history. Meant to be coupled with the DNA/genomic and ancestral testing, this culling of material will allow you a look into your past. Grounded on the concept of Sankofa, which emphasizes the importance of learning from one’s past, this project encourages you to “return and get it”—to gather various aspects of your history in order to learn about your present and glean something about yourself.

Your genealogy project will include a family tree (or vine, bush, etc.), artifacts or images, and historical information dating back three generations or more. As today’s families appear with varied configurations and histories, your project will fit your particular familial mold. It may include immigration, adoption, blended families, etc., or you may connect it to local, national or global historical moments. While there is a great deal of flexibility in terms of the scope and breadth of your project, it will include five (5) main components: a 1 - 2page personal essay answering the question “Who Am I?”; an video blog revealing your 23&Me DNA results; research and data collection; interviewing an elder; and presentation including reflections on your trip to South Africa and your genetic nation of origin.