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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

94 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

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.

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.

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

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

Client Served

Rating: 5

It is difficult to describe in words how meaningful my OUDC experience was, and how important it has been to my life. It was in OUDC that I was truly introduced to brilliant, enthusiastic people of different backgrounds and cultures. It was in OUDC that I learned how important it was to devote my life to improving my community and society at large. The staff has had a tremendous impact in building my self-confidence, public-speaking ability, and understanding of people whose lives differ from my own. OUDC taught me to question what I thought I knew, and seek out the answers that I recognized I did not know. Nearly a decade later, it remains in many ways the most important formative experience of my life.

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

I will never forget my OUDC class 9 experience for as long as I live. OUDC taught me a lot about my own heritage as an American Jew as well as a deeper understanding of the experience of blacks in the U.S. In many ways, I feel that I have a greater appreciation for this country's history and the American experience today through this program. I sincerely believe that everyone should have the chance to participate in a program like OUDC.

4

Client Served

Rating: 5

Operation Understanding DC (OUDC) introduced me to inspiring places, peers, and activists as part of a year-long program with other Jewish and African-American teens. With the knowledge I gained in OUDC, I feel I MUST continue work in eradicating racism, anti-semitism, and all other forms of discrimination.

4

Client Served

Rating: 5

OUDC was an amazingly effective facilitator of cultural, religious, historical and social exploration. It expanded my understanding of complex social issues and helped me grow to be comfortable engaging in dialogue on tough issues, even with people I don't know well. It also gave me a better understanding of who I am.

4

Client Served

Rating: 5

OUDC quite literally changed my life. It instilled in me a commitment to racial justice that has informed my career and educational pursuits ever since.

4

Client Served

Rating: 5

There are no words that can explain the impact that OUDC has done for me. The experiences and the people I met throughout the journey has had a lasting impression on me.

4

Client Served

Rating: 5

OUDC continues to have a profound impact on me, even though I participated in the program ten years ago. Academically, I was inspired to study the Civil Rights Movement in college because of exposure through OUDC to the places and people involved in the Movement. Personally, OUDC introduced me to the people who remain my closest friends. But the most important lesson I learned from OUDC is that everyone has a story to tell. As a teenager, I was so excited to learn of the varying lives of my fellow participants. Now as a teacher, I share the same appetite for learning of the lives of my students. OUDC taught me how to ask questions and how to find connections -- even with people with whom I never would have expected to share commonalities.

4

Client Served

Rating: 5

OUDC has been one of the mose influential experiences on my life thus far. It has taught me so much about not only my own culture and race buth jewish culture. It was an amazing opputunity to meet 31 other great students and share moments I know none of us will ever forget. I was in class 12 and memories of oudc are with me every day.

4

Client Served

Rating: 5

Operation Understanding DC led me to reevaluate my core beliefs: on race, on religion, on my country's history, and on my future priorities.

10

Client Served

Rating: 5

I joined other Black and Jewish youth in year-round workshops about historical struggles and modern day approaches to fighting for social justice. The highlight was a month-long civil rights-focused journey into the Deep South. We talked with different players of the Civil Rights Movement, including those active today. They included a journalist who has worked to prosecute klansmen, a woman who suffered during the Edmund-Pettis Bridge police beating, and members of the reconciliation project in Greensboro. The pace was always dizzying, but the material remained rich and impactful. Eventually, we became the subjects of our own histories as we spread out into the community to share what we had learned.

10

Client Served

Rating: 5

My experience as a member of Operation Understanding DC's Class 11 is something that I can never forget. Brought together our Junior year of high school, a time when most seek to explore their identity and understand what they want to hold on to as they head off to college, OUDC was the ideal environment for reflecting. In talking with several Civil Rights leaders, we were given the chance to reflect about our respective heritage as well as the common links that bind humans cross-culturally. My experience with the group has led me to constantly reevaluate my role and responsibility in a world that suffers still from problems of discrimination.

10

Client Served

Rating: 5

OUDC is a singular experience. I completed the OUDC program as a member of the 13th class almost two years ago, but to this day my experiences in it have maintained their grasp on the way in which I act within and view the world.