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2012 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Operation Understanding DC

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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 550 students and their families have directly participated in OUDC’s award-winning program, and, through their outreach efforts, over 60,000 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

247 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Dianne Zemnaan S.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have been involved with this organization for more than 15 years. First as a student and now as a board member. Operation Understand DC is a transformative organization that actively works to impact change by growing a generation of leaders who are trained to tackle issues surrounding racism, anti-semitism, and all forms of discrimination.

This program is nearly 25 years old and its ability to remain sustainable over such a long period of time, speaks to the value that it provides not only to the individual students it engages, but the community who they in turn serve.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I'm both a parent of an OUDC alum and a present board member. OUDC does a wonderful job educating young people about the real meaning of diversity and inclusion. The high school students in the program learn about themselves, their communities and history, and communities and histories they often knew nothing about. And they learn to be leaders in working for social justice. It's a great program, and I'm proud to be a part of it.

Board Member

Rating: 5

OUDC has changed my entire life. As a participant in 2005, a staff member in 2012, and a current Board member, this organization has taught me how to organize, how to act, how to think critically, how to engage in rich dialogue on difficult and sensitive topics, and so much more. It has changed the way I see the world and the way I walk through it. It has provided me with a change and action-oriented perspective on relationships, work, politics, etc. I can't thank OUDC enough - not only for what it's done for me, but what it's done for the world by shaping young leaders over the past 23 years.

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Volunteer

Rating: 5

There are hardly words to describe my experience with Operation Understanding DC (OUDC). OUDC changed my life by challenging me to recognize the inequities and injustice that surrounds me everyday, and has empowered me to strive to make positive change. Inspired by OUDC, I have organized a Black-Jewish dialogue/programming group on my college campus, and have educated many on the relationship between our two groups. Further, OUDC has lead to me study race relations and social justice in school...this has led me to pursue a masters in public health in order to hopefully one day relieve America's population of vast health/health care disparities that plague our nation in unimaginable ways. OUDC is with me everyday and I am so grateful for the experience I had in Class 12.

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This organization does amazing work and has positively affected several Black and Jewish students and their families that I personally know. Each student goes forth not only a better human being but an ambassador for understanding and empathy, and a force for justice and peace. The organization changes the world one person at a time which is the best and only way to really be effective.

1 Tierra R.

Client Served

Rating: 5

When I was introduced to OUDC I was in the 11th grade, and it changed my life. I was exposed to the jewish culture and shared dialouge about my history. I found my bestfriend (a jewish man) and continue to expose others to the lessons I learned in that year long program as a junior in high school.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am an alumni of Operation Understanding DC (OUDC) Class 17. To write a simple review of this organization would be undermining its grandness, however I will try to keep it short. OUDC directed me towards a path so few of my fellow African-American brothers refuse to take. A peculiar path that holds delicate footprints of advocates for social justice instead of the common path stampeded with individuals who are indifferent towards society's problems. This organization has made me aware and active of social issues regarding not just the Black community, but the global community as well. As I conversed with my Jewish counterparts in the program, I became aware of issues that affected them and discovered many similarities. Our conversations helped me understand that OUDC was organized for the betterment of mankind. To understand each other is necessary for world peace and compromise. I thank God for this program because it has awakened the leader within me.

1 samteicher

Client Served

Rating: 5

This program was life-changing for me (Class 13). One of the greatest and most profound experiences of my life. To learn what we did through this structure is brilliant. Jewish and Black American cultures, the Civil Rights Movement, dialogue workshops... while making lifelong friends and getting to visit some of the most important places in American history with the actors who helped make the Civil Rights Movement a success? C'mon...what more could you want?

-Sam

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Client Served

Rating: 5

Operation Understanding DC (OUDC) is by far the greatest thing I have participated in my life and my experiences from the program have played a major role in my life. OUDC brings together Black and Jewish rising seniors from the DC area in a year-long program. In it, I learned. I learned about history; of Black culture in the United States: slavery, literature, the Civil Rights Movement, West African song and dance; the history of the Jewish people: ancient Israel, assimilation and persecution in Europe and the Holocaust, immigration through Ellis Island. We learned about the shared community of Blacks and Jews in SW DC that existed into the 70's. We learned that our families can cook some pretty delicious traditional foods. Our month-long summer bus trip through NYC and the South was one of the most unbelievable experiences of my life. I visited the monumental places of the Civil Rights Movement, like the Edmund Pettus Bridge, the 16th Street Baptist Church, and the Lorraine Motel; met with both leaders of and participants in the Civil Rights Movement; saw beautiful Southern synagogues whose memberships had dwindled down to enough barely to hold a mincha; prayed at churches, synagogues, and mosques, and got an experience of Jewish summer camp at Camp Ramah in Georgia. But what really defined OUDC for me was how much I came to understand myself. And that came not only through the lectures, the video clips from Eye's on the Prize, and the workshops on dialogue facilitation, but through the people who were in OUDC Class 13 with me. At first they were my fellow classmates, and then my friends, and finally a family I will never stop caring about. We learned from each other, having a fun time doing it, and I loved every second of it. My friends in OUDC helped open my eyes and mind outward, and eventually inward, not only to the necessities and opportunities for racial, ethnic, and religious dialogue, but to how different every person is, even if we have a shared religion, race, area code, or flag. Every person has their own beliefs and views, unique experiences and memories, and stories that should be shared. It is a beautiful thing, how we different we all are, and how much people can learn from one another, between individuals, and within our communities, our neighborhoods, our countries, our cultures, our world. And we need to talk to one another, as individuals, as groups, as countries. The facilitation of dialogue is crucial if we want to bring ourselves together and begin laying the foundations for a world with less racial intolerance, religious discrimination, national conflicts, and fear of "the other." Operation Understanding DC enabled me to understand many things outside of what was "me." And through OUDC, I eventually began to understand myself, and how I am shaped by the world around me, and how I can help make it better. And the best part is, I had a hell of a good time doing it.

Donor

Rating: 5

IMAGINE.

-traveling on a bus with 30 awesome people for 3 1/2 weeks!
-acquiring new knowledge about your own culture, religion, and SELF.
-forming lifelong relationships.
-meeting folks who were on the same balcony the day MLK died.
-hugging a Holocaust survivor.
-eating delicious Jewish & Southern style dishes.
-taking the stand for what is RIGHT.
-changing the WORLD.

Stop imagining, and PARTAKE! OUDC changed my life, are you ready for this JOURNEY?

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am an alumna of OUDC (Class 15). The opportunities and community that this program has given me are truly amazing. I still keep in touch with the program staff and my class. They have opened doors for me and I was able to intern this past summer with an organization that has a wonderful mission of peace and justice.

lloydwolf

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been involved as a volunteer (photographer) with OUDC for many years, and have continue to be inspired by the energy and uplifting values they foster. Many programs speak about social change and inter-ethnic dialog, but Operation Understanding has long and consistently effectively delivered on their mission, on their promise. I trust they are able to continue to build up our young people with the meaningful and proven skills that are embedded into the program's action plans.

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Volunteer

Rating: 5

OUDC has significantly improved the lives of numerous young people in the Jewish and African-American community in the DC area. I have been moved by the depth of the awareness of history, culture, communication, and personal growth it has engendered in its goal of increasing understanding and collaboration.

Client Served

Rating: 5

This program really helped me reach my full potential and develop my leadership skills. Operation Understanding DC provides support, education and fun. Operation Understanding is the best program I have ever participated in. I have been touched by the sincerity of the leaders and directors of OUDC and have met friends I will never forget. I have learned so much and can apply everything Operation Understanding has offered to my life. I am so glad I did the program.

Client Served

Rating: 5

This program is truly unique. I was encouraged to apply for the program by a school counselor and being accepted meant the world to me. This program lit me on fire with passionate Civil Rights activism history and gave me the opportunity to follow the history in the cities where they took place during the summer journey which followed the path of the 1961 Freedom Riders. This is a once in a life time experience that I was lucky to take part in and is one of the most important initiatives in order today that will help make this world a better place by teaching young leaders and instilling the fire that will never burn out for social justice and activism.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Operation understanding helped me figure out who I am as a person, my passions in life, and how to achieve everything I want. With the immense amount of negativity and hatred in the world, operation understanding was the light at the end of the tunnel. Oudc gave me the tools to combat discrimination and hatred while giving me the best friends that I could ever ask for. Oudc is so much more than an organization. It really is a family and an amazing one at that. It truly is hard to write in words how much oudc has touched my life and fantastic the organization really is.

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Client Served

Rating: 5

OUDC is an amazing program for young teens to become even better leaders in their communities and really discover themselves. I think that by being a part of this program I have found a strong sense of self and much more self-confidence. OUDC gives you the skills to take all of the great information that you learn and share it with the rest of the world so that little by little everyone will be making changes in the way we think about other who think, feel, and act differently than ourselves.

Client Served

Rating: 5

OUDC has broadened my daughters persective on life. It has also broadened my families perspective on life. They are well organized and informed, the trainings provided give families an opportunity to embrace diversity.

Donor

Rating: 5

My daughter's participation with this organization has been one of the best experiences of her high school career. It has broadened her world view in ways that her academic school and family experiences have not been able to do. The speakers she has had the opportunity to learn from and meet have made history come alive and have inspired her to strive to improve her wider community. Understanding that one individual CAN make a difference was eye-opening and inspirational. In addition, so much of her growth and wider world view has come from the other program participants. OUDC does a great job of selecting a highly diverse group of kids to part take in this special program. While very different, they all do have a common thirst for knowledge and making an impact. They have grown together, learned to truly listen to one another even when they don't agree (I wish our elected officials would learn to do that) and to work together to create a better community. They truly want to make the world in which they live a better place. My daughter was forced out of her comfort zone many times and is better for it. We can't wait to see how the experience with OUDC will impact her college and career choices!

Sally26

Client Served

Rating: 5

This is a unique organization that is dedicated to developing tomorrow's leaders. It brings together 12 Black and 12 Jewish students for an entire year; they meet every few weeks and spend an intensive 3+ weeks on the Freedom Summer route through the South. These are special kids who learn leadership skills, understanding of and appreciation for one another's culture and set of beliefs, and the ability to mediate differences. They get out of their comfort zone and they struggle with ideas that may be foreign to them, but they end up feeling good about each other and are the better for having challenged themselves. If we are thinking about our future and our children's future, we would all be better off if every child had the opportunity to experience what these kids have done throughout the year. We can't say enough about how character building this program has been for our son. It's life-altering for him and his community - we thank OUDC for that.

Donor

Rating: 5

Our daughter's experience with Operation Understanding DC not only empowered her to believe she can make a difference in the world, but also became an inspiration to us, as we witnessed the power of an organization so capable of nurturing and growing future leaders. OUDC demands much of each year's high school juniors, requiring a year-long commitment of time and energy during what is arguably their most challenging year of high-school. For that investment, the organization creates a group of young leaders who understand the history and sources of discrimination...and more importantly, equips them with the tools to fight future discrimination and build a more understanding world.

SirJoseph G.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Literally every single experience we had during this program was educationally beneficial and life changing. I now know more about the Jewish and Black histories then 99% of the world. Plus, this program taught me how to see the world and certain events through a different perspective. I couldn't have mentally matured without this program.

Client Served

Rating: 5

As an alumni of OUDC, I can say with certainty that this is a life-changing experience. OUDC challenged me to step out of my comfort zone and into other peoples' shoes and it taught me the importance of discussing controversial issues. There is nothing like hearing a first-hand account from a leader of the Civil Rights Movement and then going to Jumu'ah services, Shabbat services, and Church services all in one weekend, discussing each event with my classmates along the way. I have continued to implement the lessons I learned from OUDC in college and will always remember the conversations I had with my OUDC classmates. There is truly nothing like this program. I am so grateful that I was able to have this experience.

Hilde P.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My daughter had the privilege of being selected for their leadership developmental program and it has had a huge transformative impact on her life and ours. She is fired up in making an impact toward a more equitable society. As she prepares to go to college, she is focusing on course of studies that will prepare her to be active in eradicating social injustices. There is no other program available to 17-year old High School students that removes blinders and empowers them into becoming active, participating citizens, whose voices will be heard and who matter.

Fgb B.

Client Served

Rating: 5

A Great organization with focused opportunities for Young Leaders. Every Young Adult should have the OUDc experience. I'm glad to be apart of this wonderful experience!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This organization has taught me how to truly understand those around me. With their extensive education initiative they really take their mission seriously. Quality organization.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Eye-opening, life changing, dynamic : Just a few words to describe my OUDC experience. Before joining Class 18, I considered myself pretty open minded and knowledgeable about Jewish and Black culture. But as I discovered through workshops, conversations, and research, I was more than ignorant. This program has opened my eyes to subjects and issues I would have never had a view on without OUDC. I am proud to say that I have talked to civil rights leaders in the Black and Jewish communities. Thank you OUDC for educating me in my own culture and opening my eyes to the world around me, you have not only given me an irreplaceable experience but also beautiful friendships from both cultures.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Operation Understand DC is the best organization that I could have ever got involved in. Their focus on educating the youth about history, activism, and the culture of others helps in the overall goal to build strong community leaders. As a participant in the program I have learned more about myself through the history programs, the verity of speakers presented, and my classmates. This year long opportunity is one of a life time! I encourage everyone, who has the chance to be apart of this program, to participate.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This organization not only is developing the children within the program, but also kids and adults alike outside of the program. By openly spreading equality and the complete expulsion of racism, anti-semitism and all forms of discrimination. This organization takes its time to teach all about the importance of understanding one another through religion or day to day encounters! This non-profit is deserving of the award!

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter is a member of OUDC's current class, and I have witnessed first-hand how the OUDC experience has transformed her. Through the weekend-long retreats, the Sunday afternoon seminars and the summer journey, she has learned so much about her own history and culture (Jewish) and the history and culture of the African American community and the civil rights movement. She has acquired close friendships she might not otherwise have had. When she returned from the summer journey through New York City and the South, meeting with social justice activists, religious leaders and leaders of the civil rights movement, she decided to pursue social justice programs in college, and our college search is now focused on schools that offer such programs. OUDC's leadership is outstanding. They are experts at expanding the horizons of the students, their families and the communities in which they live.

Stacy K.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

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.

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Advisor

Rating: 4

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.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Transformative. Enlightening. Empowering. Those are a few words our high school students used to describe the “Stereotype” workshop facilitated by OUDC students last year. Our program counselors and staff could not stop talking about the visible difference we saw in our students after the workshop. There was a heightened sense of self-awareness and consciousness that was not there before. Thank you OUDC for empowering our students.

Client Served

Rating: 5

One of the best experiences of my life. OUDC transformed not only the way I percieve and interact with others but the way I see myself and my role in society.

Judith H.

Donor

Rating: 5

For a small nonprofit organization, OUDC does huge things. Both of my daughters were participants in this program. They both have told me that this program made a huge impact on them. In fact, they both said that this is a life changing program and if you have the opportunity to become part of this program, you should do so. I am grateful to the OUDC staff for helping my daughters to care about their community and to become active participants.

Donor

Rating: 5

I am a parent of a member of the 16th class. This experience was transformational for our daughter. OUDC helped her to see where she fits into our world and how she can help our make our world a better and more understanding and tolerant place. The opportunity to go on the summer journey made the civil rights movement more than an historical event in a textbook. She was given a chance to speak to surviving members of the movement and to see the landmark places of the movement. This solidified for her the sacrifices made on her behalf by those who came before. She is a better person, student, and member of society, as a result of this experience.

Board Member

Rating: 5

My daughter's experience as an OUDC class member was truly life altering. She now teaches in a low performing urban, public school and the leadership skills, cultural perspectives, and understandings she developed during her year with OUDC are helping her to succeed in a very challenging endeavor. As a parent, I grew along with my daughter. For those students who are fortunate to be accepted into the program, OUDC provides them with a unique set of tools to make a real difference in the world.

Jamie Butler,
Parent of a former OUDC student and current Board member

Client Served

Rating: 5

OUDC has been such an important part of my life and continues to impact me years after I graduated from the program. It has helped shaped my education, career path, my way of thinking, my identity, and my understanding of history.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

It is important that divergent views of all peoples in our society become respected and that the ingetrity of those in society with whom we differ is maintained. OUDC teaches participants to celebrate our differences and to impart that knowledge and passion for inclusion to others who are touched by the students who facilitate and teach. Training the leaders of tomorrow to foster inclusion of ideas, views, colors, races, sexual orientations, etc is critical if the United States is going to maintain its leadership on the world stage. I applaud OUDC. As a parent of a person in Class 17 and a civil rights lawyer, I am proud of this organization and its results.

Board Member

Rating: 5

As a parent of a former participant (Class 10) and a current Board Member, I cannot laud and support the mission and program of Operation Understanding enough. The exposure provided to the participants, and by virtue of that their friends and family, has been described as inspirational, momentous and an awakening. The Black and Jewish youth involved seem to find a direction that put them on a life-track of giving, sharing and positive change. What a difference involvement can make!

Donor

Rating: 5

A teenager who recently took part in Operation Understanding's program provided it with the greatest compliment: he told me it changed his life. Now in college, he is studying urban development as a way to put some of the ideas he talked about during the year-long program to practical effect.

Client Served

Rating: 5

OUDC has served our school incredibly well. Each year their staff and youth participants lead workshops on Diversity in our school and prompt important conversations between and among our students. Our student participants rave about their experience in this program and develop maturity, sensivity, awareness and strength in leadership that will serve them in all relationships and experiences their life time through. Even our staff has participated in development training with OUDC's support and assistance. I feel very fortunate to benefit from the very large greatness of this relatively small program in so many ways.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

i have both recommended students for the Operation Understanding program and had OUDC students present to my class. In both situations, the result of involvement with OUDC was wonderful.

My class last year that had presentations from OUDC had their eyes opened to the lack of understanding or knowledge they had about their classmates and community. They began to look at individuals less from the outside and more from their actions.

This year, I recommended one of my students for participation in the program as a new transfer student at our school. His experience has made him feel that he can learn and change from exposure to new and different people. The experience encourages him to learn and grow rather than get stuck in the place he began.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've provided briefings for the students in Operation Understanding. The students are inspiring to me--thoughtful, engaged and serious about finding new understandings about and across race, religions and other differences. This is remarkable leadership development for the next generation.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My daughter is a member of Class 17, and I recently spoke with a parent from Class 1, who said that OUDC was central to her son's entire high school experience and in some ways made him the person he is today. My daughter is so excited and amazed at how open the kids are and how quickly they connected. I am thrilled with the beginning of this program, and can't wait to watch it unfold. What an opportunity for these kids, and what an opportunity to change the world! Thank you, OUDC!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My son was an OUDC participant in Class 5. Now some 10 years later, I see the impact on him and his fellow class-mates. They are aware, engaged, articulate champions of respect and inclusion, working around the world to improve the lives of people of all backgrounds. Each person touched by OUDC touches many others on a daily basis.

Board Member

Rating: 5

OUDC is one of the best non-profits in Washington, DC. It teaches sustainable life lessons and leadereship skills to young adults that transcend daily and normal experiences.

Donor

Rating: 5

We have known a number of young people who participated in Operation Understanding in the recent past. They are all incredible young people with a desire to give back to society. I am not sure if they started out that way or became that giving through their participation in the program. My children have been grown for a long time, but if there had been OU when they were teens, there would have been no question, but they would have been involved in the program. I have been to the graduations and have heard young people speak about their experiences. Impressive to say the least!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

OUDC is the solution to our nation's societal problems. In today's world ignorance, racism and prejudice actively block our youth and incoming generations from fully understanding someone's background different than their own. The problem with this issue is that when understanding for one's culture is absent, people have difficulty getting along with and treating him/her with respect. Operation Understand D.C. brings African Americans and Jews together to help promote understanding for different cultures and help eradicate racism, antisemitism or any sort of prejudice for that matter wherever it may exist. OUDC is a phenomenal non-profit organization which is helping to coalesce our nation one youth at a time.

Volunteer

Rating: 5


Through her participation in OUDC, a student who found herself a member of a desperately small minority at our suburban Virginia high school felt part of a bigger metropolitan family. OUDC supported her in so many ways and faculty at my school could see her growth in dealing with sensitive discussions in the classroom and her willingness to develop friendships across racial lines. She blossomed into a calm, well-adjusted young woman in the year with OUDC. Her praise for the OUDC mission and its successful outreach continues to be always extremely positive and sincere. Well done!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

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.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am an alum of Class 5 of OUDC. This organization and its teachings have collectively done more to shape my life as a Jew and an adult than any other experience or organization of which I have been a part. At a time when Judaism was not a strong part of my life, OUDC showed me the importance of recognizing my own heritage, and how it was my personal responsibility to educate others about the facts of history and relationships. Not a week goes by when I don't think about or act upon the lessons and methods I learned here, and I actively engage many people in discussion about OUDC's goals and training. While I now live 3,000 miles away and can only donate so much every year, I will never cease to benefit from how OUDC has shaped my outlook on life.

Donor

Rating: 5

This program changed my child's life. OUDC provides a safe and nurturing environment to discuss issues of diversity. The program inspires youth to tackle the tough issues and talk about sensitive subjects. My son developed amazing friendships. Our entire family became involved in the program thru program participation, selection of program candidates and spending time with other parents. We will remember this experience forever. I would recommend this program to any student who wishes to expand their circle of friends while exploring the common differences and similarities we all share.
Sincerely,

The Powell Family

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been a donor for three years. In a time when we cannot justify many contributions because of the squeeze of the economic situation, we have been consistent in our support of OUDC. We feel that if we need to work with teens to learn about others and celebrate their differences in order to leave them a better world than they came into. OUDC does this in bucketfuls.

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Donor

Rating: 4

As a parent of a student in Class 13, I know that my daughter's experience that year has taught her much about two wonderful cultures, although one she was born into. Since it is a year long program she has had time to process what she has learned and work out any additional issues within the closeness of OUDC. But even more importantly, she has also learned how to talk to people who say offensive or factually incorrect things about other people (not limited to African Americans or Jews). She sees herself, her classmates and OUDC as a community of people who understand and promote equality everywhere. I feel that we are fortunate to have this opportunity for our kids because we live somewhere where OUDC exists, we fit the profile and we believe. OUDC Rocks!!

Client Served

Rating: 5

Operation Understanding DC is an outstanding program that brings together young people from the African American and Jewish communities to learn about their shared history and to confront current issues of racism, anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination. It empowers these young people by helping them to strengthen their character and identity and provides them with a set of skills that enables them to become advocates and forces for social justice.

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Volunteer

Rating: 5

My son participated in this program. At first, he was reluctant to tear himself away from the summer camp he had been involved with for many years. Once he immersed himself in the OUDC experience, however, he never looked back. His appreciation of the culture and history of oppression of African Americans came alive in a way that has resonated deeply within him. He made enduring friendships that have stood the test of time. He was forced to thoroughly examine his belief system. While he had always been a "fire in the belly" social activist, this experience ignited him.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

When my son first told us about Operation Understanding DC, we were very skeptical about the program, we were expecting them to ask us for thousands of dollars to be in the program, after about 6 months into the program, I will say that this is one of the best things that has happened to us, the way the organisation has encouraged our children and the parents alike to communicate and engage each other, I am always looking forward to the parents meetins that we have, we always have about 20 parents from different backgrounds sharing experiences about our religions, backgrounds and I have personally learnt a lot about the Jewish community from the program. The organisers are unbelieveable nice, especially AJ. I love how they are encouraging our young to be great leaders of tommorrow. The summer journey was a good experience and it has helped my son. Dolapo. I wish them many more years and the very best.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I heard about Operation Understanding DC through a friend who is in the graduating class before me. Initially I was nervous about joining the organization. I thought I would be thrust into intimate situations with 22 strangers and this made me a little uneasy. Now, a senior, going into her last 5 months of OUDC it is bittersweet. My classmates and I came in strangers, we are now a unique family. I will miss the retreats and memorable speakers like Georgette Norman, director of the Rosa Parks Museum in Montgomery, Alabama. Though these thoughts are sad I am overjoyed and excited in entering the facilitation and speech making portion of our year long leadership program. I believe whole heartedly that my classmates and I will build a generation of community leaders that will promote respect and understanding in our communities, we WILL work to eradicate racism, anti-Semitism and all forms of discrimination, we will make this world a better place.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I first heard about Operation Understanding DC (OUDC) through my high school. When I read about the program, it made me realize that there was a good chance to learn about my history as well as others. OUDC is a program that brings African Americans and Jewish students together to explore their history while also working to promote respect. During this past summer, we took a 23-day journey, following the path of the freedom riders. It was one of the most enriching experiences. I met mayors of different cities as well as people who contributed and partiicipated in the civil rights movement. I got a lot out of the journey, and not only did I learn about history, but I also touched it. It was so amazing because it opened my eyes and changed my outlook on life. I now valu emy life more than ever because I know some of the sacrifices that people have made to get me here today.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Operation Understanding isn't just a non-profit organization looking to educate students, but a unique experience that's definitely life-changing. One question I always asked myself and teachers was why does history matter? It already happened! And it wasn't until after our 3-week summer journey across the states did I really start to understand and rely on the importance of history- without it, it repeats itself! There's nothing more ignorant that we can do today than nothing. So start now and contribute, support, or just plain tell your friends about OUDC because they know where to start, and their volunteers know where to continue.

Client Served

Rating: 5

OUDC is an amazing organization. As a current participant, I can't even begin to describe all that I have learned and gained from this program. We have learned about different cultures and have been challenged to analyze our connections to our own. We have learned about activism, oppression, power, and many other relevant issues. This experience has been invaluable for me.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This organization is fantastic. I have spent the last eight months with 21 fantastic teenagers and I have learned more than I ever thought possible. We have learned about each others cultures, histories, and religions. We have seen each group's successes and failures. And what I have learned has helped me challenge my own beliefs, notions, and stereotypes. This will help me better serve my community today, tomorrow and far into the future. An organization that can do this is extremely rare.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This organization is amazing! They take a group of teens in the time of life where they are very self-focused and introduce them to the world! I am so impressed with this group. They select a group of teens who would never intersect in real life, then they challenge them, stimulate them, educate them, and show them their history, their culture and the world in which they live. They come through the experience not only older and wiser, but committed to promoting social justice and working to better the planet. Hooray for OUDC!

Client Served

Rating: 5

The experinece of OUDC is impossible to describe with words, but the knowledge and relationships I have gained not only changed my world and my self perception, but will continue to encourage me to change the world.

4

Client Served

Rating: 5

Throughout the years, my experience in oudc has had an tremendous impact on how I interpret the world. I think more critically about the possiblie perspectives of others and look for empathetic connections.

4

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have had an amazing experience with Operation Understanding DC. When I joined this program, I did not feel I had that leadership capability. But over the year while I worked with them, I came into my own. What developed my leadership skills most was, as a member of OUDC, I fascilitated discussions on stereotypes, labels, prejudice etc.

6

Client Served

Rating: 5

being a part of the 9th class of OUDC truly shaped my perspective on the world and has had an influence on my thought process since I was in the program. Looking back, I know my year with OU influenced my education and career choices. I am now studying for a Master's in Social Work with a concentration on Community Organizing and working with minor juvenile offenders in Baltimore City.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

OUDC was a lifechanging experience. I learned about, history, culture, religion, civil rights, the importance of activism, public speaking, music and made lifelong friends. I can only praise OUDC and recommend it to others.

4

Client Served

Rating: 5

Operation Understanding DC remains one of the most formative experiences of my life. I came in hoping to learn more about the history and culture of Black and Jewish people; I came out with meaningful, lifelong friendships and a passion for educating others about issues of identity and discrimination. A lot of the activism I participate in at college I can directly credit to my experience in OUDC. It is an amazing program that teaches you about yourself and your ability to change the world. After spending six months learning about the history and culture of Blacks and Jews with my 31 other Black and Jewish peers, we embarked on an amazing three-week summer journey. Meeting with civil rights leaders of the past and present, and staying up late into the night discussing complex issues of identity, privilege, and power formed unbreakable bonds among the participants and left us forever committed to be active in our communities. As we crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge, the site of Bloody Sunday, we tossed a pebble over the side and watched as it made ripples that grew and grew. OUDC is like that pebble; touching so many individuals, it continues to create little ripples that will one day grow into waves of change.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Tracing history through a “summer journey” which allowed me to visit historical landmarks pertinent to the Civil Rights Movement and Holocaust and also speaking with activists who were involved in these acts of discrimination was jubilant. As my intellectual skills grew from gaining the knowledge of history that my textbooks lacked, articulation was becoming a strength as opposed to a weakness. Being in a diverse group that consists of different individuals who all have different backgrounds has developed my social skills. Diversity plays a key role in life because it releases you from your comfort zone, and it allows you to think from different perspectives based on race, religion, and culture. For me, the most moving place on the trip was the Lorraine Motel where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed. Standing below the balcony where he was shot, I felt a suffocating sense of grief and hopelessness. I then realized that hopelessness was not what King would have wanted. The responsibility he felt for the future was a responsibility each of us now feel. In “A Letter from a Birmingham,” King say, “I am here because injustice is here.” OUDC has taught me not just to address injustice when I am confronted with it, but also to seek it out.