“Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.” – Hal Borland, 20th century author and naturalist
What a truly incredible year it’s been here at the Novak Djokovic Foundation!
As we close 2016, we reflect on the experiences we’ve gained as individuals and as a Foundation, and look forward to the coming year with optimism, enthusiasm and considerable anticipation, fully knowing that we will carry the wisdom and insight earned over the course of the last year into the coming months and beyond.
We begin 2017 with strength and purpose. There is much to be done and we are heartened by our growth and development over the past 12 months. It has been first and foremost a team effort, made possible by the support and generosity of our co-founders Jelena and Novak Djokovic and that of our donors and stakeholders around the world.
This year has held much significance for me, both personally and professionally. Having joined the Novak Djokovic Foundation back in 2015, I’ve now had the pleasure and privilege to engage in the full cycle of activities undertaken by our magnificent team. Some experiences gave me insight into the work we’ve been doing for several years, including the Schools of Life program, and others were entirely new as we evolved and grew as an organisation.
2016 in Retrospective
We started the year by carefully assessing over 1,300 funding applications received through our ‘call for projects’ drive in late 2015 and in the months that followed we embarked on 27 separate projects. Some of these projects have already been completed and some will be completed in early 2017.
It is always heartening when one’s work is recognised publicly, and we were truly encouraged and honoured to have received a vote of confidence early in 2016, when HRH The Duchess of Cornwall met our team during her visit to the Family Outreach Worker Program in Serbia — a joint initiative we supported with UNICEF to prevent children from being placed in institutions whenever possible.
Recently, we formally launched the Djokovic Science and Innovation Fellowship at Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child. Under the leadership of Jack Shonkoff MD, we aim to enhance the body of knowledge in early childhood development and education, ensuring leading-edge research is fostered and made available to practitioners — including our own project team — and academics across the globe. This is a global initiative of relevance and significance in Serbia and internationally.
For the coming year, we are in the process of exploring a Serbia-focused advanced executive education initiative in conjunction with Harvard University, whereby the Novak Djokovic Foundation would support six Serbia-based professionals, affording them the opportunity to embark on two week-long residential periods at Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child and to return to Serbia with an enhanced analytical toolkit and knowledge base to ensure they make a lasting difference on the ground in Serbia. This type of grassroots endeavor will truly have an immediate, positive impact in children’s lives.
In September we held our 1st Annual Team Strategy Conference — a wonderful opportunity for our old and new team members to gather, to strengthen our bonds with one another and, most importantly, to think strategically about the road ahead. Knowledge surfaced as a key component in everything we do and wish to do. We aim to strengthen the body of knowledge in early childhood development and education through our investment in the Djokokovic Science and Innovation Fellowship at Harvard University, to understand our impact more thoroughly by deploying an enhanced impact measurement and project evaluation function, and to strengthen our in-house human capital by allocating significant resources for in-house training across the whole organisation.
Ending 2016 on a High Note
Financially, 2016 is ending on a high note. Our co-founders, Jelena and Novak Djokovic, have just pledged a $1.5million donation and our recent Milan Gala Dinner and related tennis exhibition matches with Novak, Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams and Flavia Pennetta generated income in excess of $1million.
There is much work to be done to help disadvantaged children and their families, and we are truly motivated by the support we received in 2016, emboldened by the difference we have made thus far and inspired by the impact we look to deliver in the year to come. We move forward stronger, better, and more hopeful than ever before.
On behalf of everyone at the Novak Djokovic Foundation, I extend heartfelt good wishes for Christmas and the Holiday Season and wish you a very fruitful and healthy New Year. Thank you from all of us, and we look forward to great things in 2017!
With very warm wishes,