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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

61 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

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.

Previous Stories
10

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

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.

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.

Previous Stories
10

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.

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.

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!

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.

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!

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.

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!

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.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

By far the most impactful experience of my 22 years. there is no other real life experience quite like this. Because of OUDC I co-founded tufts African american alliance.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Operation Understanding DC is a wonderful program. It provides students an eye-opening experience to learn about important social as well as political issues in the U.S., and I know first hand that it has had a strong impact on students.

6

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Operation Understanding has been such an integral part of my personal development. As a student and then as Program Director, I saw the program change the ways in which people from different backgrounds communicate about important issues in our world. OUDC is all at once a leadership development program; a college-preparatory experiential learning course; and an example of the power young people have to end racism and discrimination in all their forms. The staff and Board of Directors of OUDC care deeply about the mission of the organization and make meaningful connections with students, parents, and families that are long-lasting.

6

Volunteer

Rating: 5

When I joined other teenagers from the DC area, all black and/or Jewish, I had no idea what to expect. I went in almost clueless about the connections between the two communities, and came out with some of the closest friends and richest experiences I've ever had.

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was a participant in OUDC. I was interested in the program because I knew little about the connection between the African-American and Jewish communities. OUDC is a great program because I learned about the historical significance of this connection and about modern race-relations. As a group, we shared our personal stories of racism/ anti-Semitism and our reactions to speakers/events. Our Summer Journey was our chance to truly bond. We traveled to New York City and the Deep South over a month-long journey in July. My class laughed, cried, and sang together. We were unified by our desire to educate ourselves on parts of history that are over-looked. Although we argued and complained, I feel like that was all part of the process. I learned to recognize the differences in people, and at the same time, realize that if I made the effort, I could find the similarities. Although we discussed the past, OUDC is a program that also focuses on the future. In the final stage of the program, we facilitated discussions on stereotypes to churches, synagogues, and youth groups. I now feel a need to speak out against passive racism, when before I would have let things go that didn't necessarily apply to me. As a college freshman, I try my best to continue to speak out against things that are racially offensive. Without OUDC, I don't think I would have had the courage or even recognized the need to speak up.

11

Volunteer

Rating: 5

OUDC changed my life and taught me how to have the confidence in myself, and also gave me the skills that I needed to be an effective leader in my community.