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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Children & Youth, Civil Rights, Community & Neighborhood Development, Cultural & Ethnic Awareness, Economic Development, Intergroup & Race Relations, Race, Youth Community Service Clubs

Mission: Operation Understanding DC's mission is to build a generation of community leaders who will work to eradicate racism, anti-Semitism and all forms of discrimination, and to promote respect, understanding and cooperation within their communities.

Results: Thus far, more than 450 students and their families have directly participated in OUDC’s award-winning program, and, through their outreach efforts, over 50,000 students and adults have been engaged in fulfilling the organization’s overall goal: creating a society where all members have equal access to opportunity and freedom from discrimination.

Target demographics: Black and/or Jewish high school juniors in the Washington metropolitan area are encouraged to apply in the fall.

Direct beneficiaries per year: 24 students and their families

Geographic areas served: Washington, DC metropolitan area

Programs: our year-long, experiential learning program that transforms curious high school juniors and graduate into committed leaders for social justice. Throughout the year, they meet in board rooms and church basements around Washington for educational sessions and honest dialogue about slavery, the Holocaust, the Civil Rights movement, current national and international issues, religion and spirituality, and much more. In July, they travel from New York City to the Deep South to explore their histories and create their blueprints for future activism. Each day is filled with inspirational speakers, educational tours and life-changing experiences. Upon returning, OUDC’s students begin the real work of creating change. They give presentations about their experiences in synagogues and churches, facilitate workshops about stereotyping and discrimination for individuals from all age groups and find other creative ways of promoting respect and understanding.

Community Stories

94 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

8

Client Served

Rating: 5

This organization changed my life Not only did I learn so much about black and jewish culture/history and connections, I also met amazing people who I KNOW will be the agents of change in the future. The people I met inspired me and motivated me to continue to be a positive leader in my own community. OUDC has inspired me to continue to make working for social justice my career.

7

Client Served

Rating: 5

As a member of Class 15, I think that this is one of the best and most rewarding programs or non-profits I have ever come in contact with, and it opened my mind and truly carried out its mission. OUDC makes me want to become an activist and fight racism and prejudices in my communities today

7

Client Served

Rating: 5

OUDC changes lives. It places young students on the difficult yet essential path of being advocates of freedom. It awakes one's sleeping spirit to join in the cause of equality, justice, and righteousness. Although the program lasts for one year its effects remain for a lifetime. I am privileged to have been able to meet young Black and Jewish students in my community to build a coalition of Love. OUDC changed my life.

7

Client Served

Rating: 5

OUDC not only strengthened my understanding of social justice while I was in high school, but also made me believe in the power of individuals and groups of people working together to change the world. It is a small organization, but had a huge impact on my life and on the lives of so many others connected to the program. I can think of few organizations that do so much with so little.

7

Client Served

Rating: 5

OUDC is a watershed experience that leads to social action for most of the participants who are fortunate enough to participate in the program. I know it was for me.

7

Client Served

Rating: 5

Being a member of OUDC was the single most important thing I ever did in high school. The program opened my eyes to a world of knowledge and experiences I never would have dreamed accessible, and it has definitively shaped the person who I am today, and will be for the rest of my life. OUDC has allowed me to connect better with African-Americans and Muslims, stand up for those less fortunate than I, educate people about ignorant comments at work, and become more closely connected with the Jewish community. Bringing together Black and Jewish teenagers to learn about and experience first-hand their shared histories of struggle and triumph is monumentally important in a world of ever-increasing shorter and less personal human interaction. I was challenged in OUDC to confront difficult viewpoints, confront history, and confront myself. I could not recommend the program more highly.

7

Client Served

Rating: 5

Participating in Operation Understanding DC continues to be one of the most important and defining experiences of my life. The dialogues we had, the people we met and the sites we saw continue to effect me and inspire me in my social justice work. It helped shape the way I think about race, religion, civil rights, social justice and privilege. Meeting with people who changed history in the Civil Rights Movement such as members of the Montgomery Bus Boycott or Greensboro lunch counter sit ins, and those who continue to fight for civil rights, such as public defenders, left me in awe and inspired me in ways that a classroom never could. Walking in the footsteps of those who fought for a better society, in places like Selma, Alabama, is something that I will never forget. Seeing small communities with just a handful of Jews helped me further connect with my Jewish identity. I credit Operation Understanding DC to getting me started on a path of social justice. Although I participated in this program four years ago it continues to effect me, and I think and talk about it often. Thanks to OUDC I know that I will be spending my life doing social justice work.

8

Client Served

Rating: 5

Operation Understanding DC was an amazing opportunity for me. It greatly increased my confidence and my ability to act in spite of my being younger. This program increases social awareness and provides a forum to discuss many deep issues on race, religion and the nature of prejudice.

8

Client Served

Rating: 5

As a group dedicated to promoting cross-cultural understanding and combating racism, anti-Semitism, and all forms of prejudice in American society, OUDC had a profound impact on my world view and my relationships with those around me. The program brings together African-American and Jewish students from the DC-VA-MD area for a year-long journey of understanding. While the group helped train me to actively promote cross-cultural exchange and combat prejudice, its impacts on the personal level were much more profound: I became aware of prejudiced stereotypes I did not know I harbored, realized the ways in which societal inequality impacts different peoples' life chances, and came to a deeper understanding of my own roots. These lessons I took away from OUDC will continue to shape my life.

8

Client Served

Rating: 5

OUDC is an important, unique and well-run organization. My daughter is participating this year in the program along with about 30 other Jewish and African-American 11th/12th graders. Through the program they are learning a great deal about their heritage, the history of the relationship between the groups, the history of the civil rights movement, and, perhaps most important, themselves. The program imparts these lessons by choosing students with open minds and educating them through a combination of contacts with notables in civil rights, history and other relevant fields, including bi-weekly educational sessions throughout the year, cultural exchanges with members of the other group, and a summer journey through all the significant stops in the history of the civil rights struggle in the U.S. The students are exposed to people and experiences that they might otherwise not see. And they bring these experiences and lessons back to their communities through public speaking -- for which the program helps train them -- and other interactions. I can't speak highly enough about the mission of this organization, and their skill at satisying that mission. The group's facilitators are energetic and well-trained, and the choices of subject matters and venues are always spot-on. By helping raise a generation of enlightened and open-minded youth, they are making a real contribution to relations between the cultures, and help ensure that these participants will be a positive force for societal change.