Operation Understanding DC

Rating: 4.98 stars   244 reviews

Issues: Civil Rights, Arts & Culture, Children & Youth, Race, Economic Development

Location: 3000 Connecticut Avenue, NW Ste 335 Washington DC 20008 USA

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.
2012 Top-Rated Nonprofit
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EIN 52-1822488
202.234.6832
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Community Reviews

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Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars  

I work at a school that regularly sends students to the OUDC program. Not only does our school benefit from the rich relationships established from OUDC through its staff and network, but also by having our own students come back to teach their fellow students and teachers about what they have learned. Recently, one of our african-american male OUDC students invited his jewish male OUDC colleague to speak at our Martin Luther King Memorial Chapel. It was a powerful and authentic realization of the mission of OUDC.

How does this organization compare with others in the same sector?

Very Well

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you recommend this organization to others?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

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1 previous review
Rating: 4 stars  

I am a diversity director at a MD independent school. We have had various students from our school go through the OUDC program with wonderful results. I know OUDC graduates to be fantastic facilitators and end up educating their own school communities as a result of their experience. I find OUDC to be well-run and organized in its selection process and implementation of the program.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

The facilitation and leadership skills honed by graduates helped grow our school's own diversity program. Also, OUDC recruiters came to our school to talk to students, and ended up counseling all the students they talked with about setting high goals and working hard in school.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

create a more stable website with more information.

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Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars  

I am been affiliated with OUDC for over 15 years, as a donor, wife of a board member, facilitator of programs, and currently, as a parent of a participant. My son who grew up with OUDC as a household name, came home from his first program weekend saying that he was really glad that he participated, that he already has really good friends, and that he's happy for himself in addition to looking good for college. OUDC is the real deal: mission focused, competitive for the best participants, and providing a remarkable experience for the participants and the people with whom they interact.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

....

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Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars  

7 people found this review helpful

OUDC is an incredible program that has enhanced racial and cultural understanding among people who would have met otherwise. By combining a leadership training of sorts, racial and cultural tolerance and a better understanding of this country's complex and often tumultuous history, OUDC has shaped new leaders that will create a more tolerant world. This program has truly transformed lives.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the transformative impact it has had on youth.

Ways to make it better...

they had more funding so that they could expand the program.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

One thing I'd also say is that...

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

One time

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2006-6-01

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Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars  

8 people found this review helpful

I was a professional who has referred students from our congregation to participate in the program. I have been overwhelmed by the value of their experiences and how well prepared these teens are to then share this experience with others! EVERY student I know who has participated raves about the experience and how greatly they were impacted through participation in the program. These teens have also addressed the adult congregation during morning services and their poise and passion are a great symbol of the profound change created through their participation with OUDC.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

the skiills and knowledge gained by our students who participated.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the way they broaden the minds of the teens who participate

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

dedicated, caring professionals.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

change the world!

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About once a year

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-9-01

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Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars  

9 people found this review helpful

As a former member of the OUDC board, I'll admit to being biased in favor of the organization. However, since returning to Montgomery, Alabama and the Southern Poverty Law Center (of which I'm a co-founder) in 1996, I've come to know OUDC in a much different way. Each year OUDC students have included the SPLC's Civil Rights Memorial and Civil Rights Memorial Center on their trips through the South; and each year I've had the opportunity to speak with these young men and women about my experiences in addressing issues of justice and tolerance. More importantly, I've listened to them - their questions, their comments. If ever anyone had any doubts about the merits of a program that brings young people together to bridge differences and create understanding, an hour with these kids would make a believer out any such person. They get it. And, they get it because of who they are and how OUDC has matured as an organization in the management of its mission. Congratulations to all.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

the way in which I've described under the "Your Experience" section, previous page.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Ways to make it better...

Not sure I can think of any particular thing that would improve what I see in these annual visits. OUDC seems to have it about right.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

One thing I'd also say is that...

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About once a year

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-7-01

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Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars  

11 people found this review helpful

This is a phenomenal organization that has a deep and lasting impact on the students who participate in it and the communities that they serve. As a rabbi, I have encouraged several students to take part in this program over the years and all have come back to thank me for letting them know about the opportunity. For many, it was their first real exposure to issues related to the civil rights movement and their first opportunity for real cross-cultural dialogue. The students report back several years later that they are still in close touch with the friends they made in the program and, in some cases, it has affected their career choice.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

seeing dozens of high school students transformed by their experience and eager to share what they have learned with others.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-9-01

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Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars  

7 people found this review helpful

Several of my students have had outstanding experiences through their involvement in Operation Understanding DC. I am impressed with all this organization does to promote positive relationships within the context of understanding the history of the Civil Rights Movement.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

seeing all it has done in the lives of my high school students who have participated in the program.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About once a year

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-4-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

8 people found this review helpful

OUDC was an important program for both of my daughters in terms of deepening their understanding of themselves as young African American women, as allies in the important history of Jewish-African American solidarity, and as citizens of the world. It is a model for how to "do diversity" beyond quickie workshops. OUDC goes deep.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

knowledgeable, caring, fiercely committed to social change, and wise about working with young people.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About once a year

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2008-3-01

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Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars  

8 people found this review helpful

I worked for the InterFaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington (IFC) for seven years and some of the best young leaders I met during that time were youth formed by this program. They engage in a meaningful summer trip to places of importance to the Jewish and African-American communities and return home transformed and willing to work to build more tangible bridges of understanding between the two groups. They also learn how to share their story with others in the community, leveraging the impact of their experience. I'm proud that a young person from my own church is a graduate of this program and wish that others would make such a commitment to engage in it.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

expand far beyond the DC area and end all prejudice between young African-Americans and Jews.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About once a year

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2008-3-01

Was this review helpful? 
Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars  

9 people found this review helpful

My name is Reynauld Smith and I am a retired AP US History teacher from the District public school system. For more than 10 years I have been one of the opening presenters with Operation Understanding. My presentations usulally include an overview of the Civil Rights Movement and African American History, my personal involvement in The Movement and specific Civil Rights issues of today. The concept of bringing African American and Jewish students together to study the history and culture of each group lends itself to numerous positive outcomes. At least seven of my former African American students have been selected to participate in the program and all, but one, have completed college. All of my former students were products of the District of Columbia inner city and many of these students had no desire to attend any College of University. Very few of my students had ever met anyone that was Jewish or middle/upper middle class. To witness these students step out of their confort zone and actively embrace the culture of another group is humbling. The Summer Travel component where students visit historical Jewish and African American sites from New york to Mississippi, is "Life Altering." Students visit sites important to jewish and Afrian American history and culture and get the opportunity to meet the people that created and lived that history... The campus of Tuskegee University, Dr King's personal lawyer, participants in the Selma to Montgomery March, former members of SCLC and SNCC. As a former educator this the ultimate example of "Primary Source." Finally Students must become active participants in making a positive difference in Race Relations in America...registering voters and helping to rebuild churches in Missippi and speaking with Holocaust survivors and ensuring them that "We Will Never Forget." I think the greatest reward of this program is that it addresses one of the major divisions in our society..."RACE." To have these teenagers come together for one year and forge bonds of friendship and love helps me to remain optimistic about the future of American Race Relations.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Positively change the lives of 100's of inner city teenagers.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About once a year

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-2-01

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