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Novak Djokovic Foundation Announces Elite Fellowship Program with the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University

by , Posted on 15th Nov 2016

The newly established fellowship will fund and enable scientific studies and solutions in early childhood education and development; it will also develop the next generation of leaders in this field.

The Novak Djokovic Foundation and the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University today announce the Djokovic Science and Innovation Fellowship in an effort to contribute new, science-based innovations in early childhood development. The fellowship will build the capacity of emerging leaders to conduct cutting-edge research, translate and communicate research into policy and practice, and create and test new strategies that drive the field forward.

Early childhood is a time of rapid cognitive development in which 700 new neural connections are formed every second. These are the connections that build the brain’s architecture and form the foundation upon which all future learning, behavior, and health depend. Academic research has only begun to scratch the surface on how to expand and apply our understanding of brain development in the early years of life and Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child is at the forefront of the breakthrough science.

The partnership between the Center and the Novak Djokovic Foundation looks to improve outcomes for children facing adversity by creating long lasting, new solutions focused on early childhood education and development.

I am delighted we are investing in the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University and incredibly excited to launch the Djokovic Science and Innovation Fellowship under the guidance of Prof Jack Shonkoff — a leading authority on early childhood development. We look forward to meeting the inaugural cohort of Djokovic Fellows in 2017 and, through their research, to furthering the body of knowledge in this field.  We believe in facilitating the very best in early childhood development and education, always striving to provide a strong foundation for every child. Our project work on the frontlines is informed by the latest academic thinking and now we’ll also be in a position to contribute to that body of knowledge for the benefit of practitioners and academics alike, in Serbia and globally – said Novak Djokovic.


The competitive fellowship builds on the Center’s ten years of experience driving science-based innovation in early childhood research, knowledge translation, and education. The four successful fellows will join a cohort of more than 30 emerging leaders developing ambitious research agendas and projects in the U.S. and internationally.

Jack P. Shonkoff, Director at the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University said:

The Novak Djokovic Foundation understands that healthy development in the early years builds a strong foundation for thriving societies. They also know that the world needs a pipeline of new, innovative leaders with deep knowledge about how adversity disrupts child development and what can be done to prevent that disruption. By launching the Djokovic Science and Innovation Fellowship at the Center on the Developing Child, the Foundation is investing in a new generation of champions for young children who will lead the way in driving science-based strategies to produce breakthrough impacts on the lives of those who are facing the enormous stresses of poverty, violence, and social exclusion.

Each academic year, four fellows whose research interests are related to child health, learning, and behavior will receive financial support and participate in skill-building workshops and academic roundtables to support their development as the next generation of leaders. Applications for the 2017-18 academic year are open until December 16, 2016. Priority will be given to those whose work aligns with the Center’s mission, crosses disciplinary boundaries, and offers promising new thinking in support of the healthy development of children and their families.

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