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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

6

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My daughter participated in OUDC. She learned a great deal about our history, in particular the Civil Rights Movement, and developed a better understanding of how folks from different backgrounds can and should learn to work together while respecting our differences. She also learned how to facilitate discussions over thorny and sometimes contentious issues - a skill that will serve her well in all sorts of ways in the years to come. I am sure that years from now, she will look back on her experience with OUDC as a vital part of how she learned to move forward in the world and make a positive difference.

6

Donor

Rating: 5

This program takes youth from different backgrounds and cultural experiences and spends a year both teaching about each other's cultures and having the students learn from each other. During the "Summer Journey" students spend more than 3 weeks travelling to New York and throughout the south visiting places of historical and cultural importance. They also speak with individuals who experienced the civil rights movement first-hand. This program is a life-changer for all those who go through it. Each student leaves the program as an ambassador of more than simply cultural tolerance, but of understanding and appreciation of another's culture.

8

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

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.

8

Board Member

Rating: 5

Operation Understanding is a great program which creates the leaders of tomorrow. Many of the students who participated in it have gone on to work on diversity issues and have made a huge difference in the world. It is definitely the best non-profit....

8

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a professional diversity consultant for 25 years, and recently served as the Professor of Diversity in Residence at Bennett College for Women and I have to say that the OUDC program is, quite simply, the best of it's kind that I have veer seen. OUDC raises the bar for its participants far beyond simply exposing them to their shared history, it develops true leadership capability and genuinely inspires students to become active agents of change in their communities. I have been with the students and also had some of them work with my company after they have emerged from the program and they are profoundly impacted in the most positive of ways.

8

Donor

Rating: 5

It's been my pleasure to help support students who participated in this program and then watch them use the lessons learned into the real world. Operation Understanding of the District of Columbaia should be commended for their vision and putting their plan into action to help generations of people learn to respect our differences, understand our differences, and go on to teach others those same valuable lessons.

8

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had the opportunity to volunteer for several years with OUDC. I interviewed students applying to be in the program. It was a well run process in which great care was placed to draw applicants representing as diverse pool as possible. Great care was placed in the hands of panel of volunteers, board members and staff to select an appropriate mix of students who had both strong identities that they could offer the group and an openness to learn from others. It always fascinated me to see the transformation of the students in the interview process to the end of the program. There is no doubt that the year long program made a life long imprint on their lives. Love the organization!

8

Client Served

Rating: 5

OUDC was the most formative experience of my entire teenage life. It gave me the tools to really understand and critique history and the world around me. It encouraged and guided me to want to take action and effect change, and it gave me the toolkit to feel prepared and able to do so. And, more importantly, OUDC helped me learn to get along with and form real friendships with others from different backgrounds. My diverse group of friends and connections to other parts of the city and the country has helped me feel like a better person and a better citizen. OUDC gives teens the framework to make connections with one another in order to help change the world.

8

Board Member

Rating: 5

The term "life-changing experience" has been reiterated and repeated by my daughter and her fellow OUDC particpants over the past few years. The opportunities for experiece and exposure to the 'real' world, as a positive learning tool, with chances for self-discovery and growth, is the plus not often afforded to our youth. From the dark pages of historical discrimination to the opportunities for historic change, OUDC provides this springboard and more.

8

Former Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a parent of an OUDC participant, I cannot say enough wonderful things about what the OUDC experience offered! The learning opportunities were extraordinary and my son learned new and important perspectives regarding the Jewish/African American relationship. The learning, coupled with the amazing journey to New York City and the South provided him with a meaningful experience that will be cherished. The lessons learned about both differences and similarites provide him a place from which to inform others and be an abassador for understanding.

8

Client Served

Rating: 5

Participating in Operation Understanding DC was one of the most important experiences of my life. I consider the year I was in the program to be a watershed moment in my development. They taught me that I could be a leader, a visionary, a change maker and a great community member. Participation in this program introduced me to the importance of caring about my community and the communities around me (a great lesson to learn in your teenage years).

8

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Operation Understanding DC made me a better leader, a better friend, and a better member of my community. Participating in this program reinforced my desire to turn serving my community into a career.

8

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I'm a parent of a student participant in OUDC. This outstanding program provided a life changing experience to my son. During the twice monthly workshops and seminars he and his fellow participants engaged in discussions about racial discrimination, conflict resolution, effective communication techniques,the roles played by both Jews and African Americans in their struggles to end all forms of oppression with local, regional, and national leaders. The five week summer journey throughout the south, meeting with those who marched with Dr. King and hearing their experiences provided an upclose look and an expanded understanding of the civil rights movement. My son also improved his public speaking skills and speech writing ability as he shared his OUDC experience. I highly recommend this excellent program.

7

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I participated in OUDC my junior year of high school. I learned a lot about black and Jewish culture and I also learned about different forms of discrimination and injustice. I also learned how to fight back agaonst discrimination and injustice. OUDC was very crucial to my development as a leader.

10

Client Served

Rating: 5

I was a member of the first class, and am so pleased to see that 15 years later OUDC is strong, vibrant, and creative. OUDC was a vital part of my education and I continue to rely upon the lessons I learned, not only in my person life, but as a culturally competent and sensitive psychologist.

9

Client Served

Rating: 5

My experience with OUDC thus far has been extraordinary. I came into the program passionate about eradicating discrimination. I now feel that I have the tools to do this and I with a stronger sense of who I am as a Jewish female. Before I became a participant in OUDC I never knew how to react to statements that I found offensive or derogatory, now I am able to stand up and speak. Our summer journey was very powerful we met with civil rights foot soldiers, mayors, lawyers, along with men and women that are currently fighting for various social justices all who inspired me to continue working towards eradicating discrimination. My classmates are great and I hope to stay in touch with them after we graduate!

10

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My daughter was happy to participate in this organization to help build her resume for college but had not really embraced the idea of a year long commitment.She seemed to get through the meetings alright for the first 6 months without any hiccups but did not demonstrate much more enthusiasm since the beginning of the program. The summer journey that included meeting and hearing from the civil rights leaders of our historical past seemed to spark the fire that I'd hoped to see from her experience. She marveled at the authenticity of the speakers and historical locations that OUDC tapped into for their experience. The experience has enhanced her personal drive to no longer be an onlooker but instead an advocate for justice more than my daughter had ever expected. For this reason alone amongst, this organization deserves an A++ in my grade book.

9

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

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.

11

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a member of OUDC's class 15, my outlook on life has changed. After spending three and a half weeks this summer with my 29 other classmates, experiencing an intense, educational, and eye-opening journey through New York City and the Deep South, I can say that I have become a much more aware person. I'm aware not only of the many problems people face in our country, but also of how communities on the smaller and larger scale function. I've learned just how subtle some of the largest social problems we face are and how to dig beneath society's surface to find them. But OUDC has also done something with this awareness; it has taught me not only the neccessity of being aware, but also the neccessity of making others aware. Over the summer we took lessons from community leaders, activists, lawyers, politicians, history, and a whole host other sources. We learned first hand what sort of actions need to be taken to create a change. What I took from it was primarily the importance of public awareness. Our country's problems, no matter what they are, will not even be confronted, never mind changed, if people don't understand and are not aware of them. What OUDC has done for me is inspire me to take this message to my community and make it aware. My life has never felt so fulfilling.

12

Donor

Rating: 5

Operation Understanding DC is a program that has truly changed the lives of my two daughters. Although we raised our children to be accepting of people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds, of people who were not as well off as they were, and of those who are physically challenged, OUDC took them so many steps further. It taught them to understand more fully the challenges that African Americans have faced for so long, and in some cases still do, in this country. Even moreso, it gave them the opportunity to develop friendships, and kinships, that will no doubt last a lifetime. It has given them the confidence to go out into the community to facilitate understanding between different racial and ethnic groups. And, it has driven them to grow into other groups that have similar missions. As a result of the profound impact that OUDC has had on my daughters, I have already seen them develop into social leaders in their community and can foresee them doing so much more I could have ever hoped for in fighting discrimination f all kinds, and in fostering respect, understanding and cooperation within their communities. OUDC has come a long way in the fifteen years it has benefitted the DC metropolitan area, and can do so much more as it is able to grow its programs. They have benefitted so much for the wonderful program directors they have had over the years and it would be wonderful to sse the program continue to thrive and grow.

9

Volunteer

Rating: 5

i am in the current class, CLASS 15 AND i can honestly Operation Understanding DC was one of the best and still is the best experience i have had in my life. From meeting actual Civil rights workers and leaders to hearing inspirational speakers like Joanne Bland who recalled her gut-wrenching story of Bloody sunday and her triumph i have never been so much humbled. Oudc also gave me a chance to explore the fascinating history of the jewish culture and what they have experienced. i can honestly say that addiition will greatly help my life in the future. Not only learning about another culture was great but learning about my own culture as an African American was really moving. All my life I have been proud to be black but i didn't know why since the media portrays black in a negative way, but after this program and going to the deep south and listening to people like Rev billy Kyles and J charles jones I now know what it means to black and I am proud of how far the African american community has come. moreover it gave me a sense of pride in myself. Never will you meet a man who in one year who went from a indifferent person on social justice issues like racism and anti-semitism to now where I am motivated to eradicate these issues and make a difference in my community so everybody can have equal opportunity. I must leave you with one last thing. that is that you can never replace going to historic sites like kelly ingram park and Edmund pettus bridge with hearing about it on books or on tv. Seeing the actual sites where these fateful events happened was one of the most moving and sensitive experiences i will ever have. i stepped on the same ground where thousands of people put there lives on the line. There is so much more i would like to write but I could go on for days about this program seriously.

10

Client Served

Rating: 5

"Understanding" is the operative word in this Organization. I can't say enough about OUDC, it is a fantastic organization that has changed lives and is shaping future leaders who will have a massive impact on our world. My daughter was a member of Class 12 and continues the mission of OUDC by leading a diversity education club at her university. The experience changed her life and helped our entire family understand the lives, customs, and cultures of others.

10

Former Volunteer

Rating: 5

OUDC was one of the single most meaningful experiences of my life. I could not wait to join OUDC after my brother graduated from Class 10. I was constantly in awe of the stories he told, the friends he made, and the impact that the program had on his life. Just as the experience changed my brother, it made me into the person I am today. Not only did I learn a tremendous amount about both African American and Jewish culture, but I learned about the ways in which our two communities have worked together in the past to accomplish something that lives on today. I learned about Jewish movements, and the Civil Rights Movement. I listened to incredible speakers, many of whom were unsung heroes. They amazed me with their courage, and inspired me to stand up for what is right and what I believe in. Joanne Bland, from Selma, Alabama, is one of the most amazing women I've ever met in my life. She has been with the program since Class 1 and continues to affect each participant with her stories from Bloody Sunday when they arrive in the historically vibrant town. In addition to the educational part of the program, I grew so much as a human being and a global citizen. I expanded the lens with which I view the world, and I have become much more aware of my own judgments, opinions, and actions. I don't know exactly who I am, but OUDC helped me to understand who I ultimately want to become. I turned 19 three days ago. I had a small birthday party at my house to celebrate the end of summer and going back to college. I invited only five friends from my high school. However, I invited the 29 people who I graduated from OUDC with. They are my true friends. They are the people I want to share exciting news with, or lean on when its just been one of those days. They are the people who challenge me politically, spiritually, and emotionally. They are my family.

10

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a current member of the OUDC class (Class 15) I must say that OUDC is simply an outstanding program. Not only has the program blessed me with the privilege of learning another culture and group of people, but it helped me understand and appreciate my own. As an African American male who lives in a society where people who resemble myself are not perpetuated by the media as successful and great people, I lost a since of pride in whom I was. However, I now take pride in who I am and that is because this program has helped me to redefine who I am. The final thing that I have truly taken from the program is my new sense of responsibility to fight for social justice and I know I can do it along the side of my OUDC community. I am now creating a Social Justice club at my school, in the process of setting up speeches at local churches and synagogues about oppression, and I am talking to my family about racism and antisemitism. I am now strong enough and passionate enough to talk about subjects that are usually pushed under the rug and this is all thanks to OUDC.

10

Donor

Rating: 5

This is a wonderful organization. My daughter participated five years ago and it was a life changing experience for her. The Black and Jewish kids in the program were extraordinary and I have no doubt that OUDC achieved its goal of forging a new understanding and commitment from them that has influenced their work and community leadership. My daughter, for example, learned from OUDC that her activism could matter and she has been involved as a leader on her campus in promoting understanding and civil dialogue about Israel-related issues. OUDC operates on the assumption that individuals change the world - it equips these young people to be agents of change. A great cause.

9

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This one year program is wonderful. It teaches the history of both the Jews and Blacks in the U.S., promotes understanding between the groups, including issues on which Blacks and Jews may differ (e.g. affirmative action, Israel, Islam, etc.) and results in many warm and long-lasting friendships among Blacks and Jews. Originally started in Philadelphia, this program has spread to other cities, such as St. Louis, and is highly effective in helping to assimilate disparate groups of high-school children into an increasingly diverse society.

8

Volunteer

Rating: 5

OUDC taught me more in one year than any other institure of learning did in my entire life. In the program we learned about important Civil Rights figures such as Revrend Billy Kyles, and Doug Jones, the lawyer who, after many long years, brought those who were responsible for the infamous 16th Street Baptist Church bombing to justice. We also met with the African Hebrews, which was a HUGE experience that shook my own moral existence!! We also visited different kinds of synnagouges and churches, some of which were very interactive, and others that were very deep and spiritual, and some that were both. But what really made the experience so much more meaningful was going through it with my classmates and my faciliatators, AJ, Jon, Leslie, and Liz. It was somthing about the selection of my twenty-eight other classmates that was too perfect-not because we all got along perfectly, but because we all had unique perspectives and ideals that we were not afraid to share with each other. That is the kind of atmosphere and strong community that OUDC breeds, and that is why the program helps to create a better sense of Understanding between indiviuals of all kinds of backgrounds, wether they be socioeconomic, religious, racial, cultural, or even age-related. In short, this program is absolutley PHENOMENAL!!! My faciliatators warned me that this program is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and that even if I were to go visit all the same places with the same people, it wouldnt be the same--and they were absolutley right. Throught this program I feel as though now i finally have a purpose, and that purpose is to fight injustice in any way that I can. OUDC has given me the tools to stand UP and speak OUT, and to get others to do the same. (The program even gave me a new passion for reading, which i never used to do!!) I know that anyone who joins OUDC will have their minds opened, and their ambitions focused on building a better tomorrow.

8 lsnider

Volunteer

Rating: 5

O.U.D.C. is an incredible organization run and staffed by amazing individuals who make up a team that inspires and equips several dozen African-American and Jewish youth for a unique and necessary purpose. OUDC provides its students with the knowledge and tools to learn more about the rich and complex histories and narratives and contemporary issues involved in each community in the United States, and their interaction and relationship. It is not often in life that a person has the opportunity to learn for the sake of learning. Of course, this is hopefully the case in high school, college, and further higher education, but there are always grades involved and in that sense as a student you work for grades that measure your knowledge. Also, in the long run as a student you work towards earning your degree. Operation Understanding D.C. is not for a grade; its purpose is to enrich the understanding of young Jews and Blacks in the DC metro area of their own histories and the current intricacies of the Black-Jewish friendship in America (and around the world by extension I think). Since OUDC I have been very involved in the Black-Jewish relationship on my college campus, and my experiences and dedication to social justice issues will be a constant in my life in the years to come. Additionally, I an indebted to OUDC for lifelong friendships. Moreover, I now have a handful of friends to whom I know I can turn to for advice, a helping hand, etc. for anything relating to social issues in our communities. We like to think of OUDC as having a ripple effect in the sense that the program touches more than the 32 students in each class - its message that knowledge and friendship can help us overcome historic prejudices in order to eventually eradicate all forms of antisemitism, racism and all discriminations, reaches parents, friends, teachers, family, and others who are related to each year's OUDC Class.

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

Donor

Rating: 5

Self-segregation is common in America, yet it is not a path I want my children to follow. My child's participation in OUDC has opened her mind to these challenges. It has provided her open dialogue with peers and enabled her to develop friendships with people of other races and religions. Experts in the civil rights movement and Jewish history and culture share their insight with these students. They are encouraged to develop their own ideas and share them with their community.

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

Donor

Rating: 5

Operation Understanding provides young African American and Jewish high school juniors/seniors with unique and life changing experiences. Their goal is to develop a network of young leaders working to promote values of social justice,understanding,fairness,curiosity about and concern for others. Their programs are thoughtful,intelligently organized. They help the participants begin to challenge assumptions they have held, listen to and respect the perspectives of those who disagree with them and provide them with access to inspiring leaders and social activists or holocaust survivors I have seen the changes in the lives of several young people who have participated in OUDC. They all have a spark to make the world better and tools to go about effecting this.

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.

10

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Operation Understanding DC is a great program for individuals who want to become great civil rights activists and become great community leaders. OUDC has really help me to better apreciate the history of my culture and heritage, and better understand the history of the Jewish heritage and culture. I would definately recommend this program to all youth interested in coming out of their shell, learning more about African American and Jewish culture and heritage, and becoming great advocates of the moral progression of society.

11

Board Member

Rating: 5

Two of my children have been transformed by the OUDC experience. Their horizons were broadened and they came away with a better sense of self and a deeper devotion to others. They also learned a lesson not being taught well in other DC environments: you can disagree strongly with someone and still hold that person close to your heart. In addition to helping Jews and African-Americans understand each other better, the neighborhoods, economic circumstances and values these kids represent offer them all insights into others. These kids are tomorrow's leaders.

10

Volunteer

Rating: 5

OUDC provided me with an experience I will never forget. I made some great friends and such memorable experiences as a result of the program. Our tour through the South was eye-opening, and made me want to create social change.

10

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have been privileged to witness firsthand the tremendous impact OUDC has had on my son and daughter, both alums. Each came away from the year-long OUDC experience with deep friendships among African-American and Jewish students, and a shared, profound understanding of what religious and racial tolerance and understanding really mean in daily life. I was also fortunate to serve on the Board, where I interacted regularly with the leadership of the program, as well as the students. OUDC lives its values every day by encouraging African-American and Jewish student leaders to take up the challenge of being thought and change leaders.

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.

9

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The difference that Operation Understanding DC made in my life is unimaginable. The people in this organization changed me from a person that thinks to a person that acts, and now I know I can make a difference in the world. The greatest experience of my life by far!

7

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Operation Understanding of the District of Columbia (a/k/a OUDC) is an amazing program that brings together African-American and Jewish high school students for a year of inter-cultural education, travel, and discovery. Roughly 30 students from the D.C. metropolitan area learn together about Jewish and African-American culture, history, and religious traditions, and explore issues of identity, discrimination, and stereotypes, during a year of programs, lectures, and retreats. The students have just returned from a three-week summer journey in NYC and throughout the deep South, where they visited churches, synagogues, community centers, museums, and memorials, and met with local civic and religious leaders, as well as participants in and heroes of the civil rights movement. OUDC is a transformational experience for these students, who become inspired to join our nation's efforts to battle discrimination and foster greater respect and understanding in our communities.

7

Client Served

Rating: 5

Operation Understanding is a youth leadership and diversity program that includes intensive education about Jewish and African American history, a month-long bus trip to see history and current challenges close up, and an outreach portion. I did OUDC in high school, and learned about continuing civil rights struggles in this country. Now I am studying to be a civil rights attorney. My OUDC classmates are working on social justice issues we learned about all around the country. It was an amazing program.

7

Client Served

Rating: 5

OUDC provided me with an amazing year-long experience that helped me learn about and analyze important issues in our society. Not only did the program give me an understanding about race and its role in our nation, the program helped me look at broader issues of justice where activism and leadership is still needed.