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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

22 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

7

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have seen first-hand the great work that this organization has done with the youth of D.C. It is truly a positive influence in the community.

10

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

One of my best friends has been involved in the OUDC for years now. She has put incredible time and effort into her involvement with the organization which in turn has been integral in shaping who she is today and doubt who she will be tomorrow. As a result she consistently amazes me with the care and involvement she puts forth in bettering her community, not just in Washington D.C. but in every place she ventures. The OUDC has instilled in her qualities that i greatly admire and made her not just a friend but a role model to me as well.

7

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

As a fellow Washingtonian, I believe OUDC is a perfect example of the type of programs that can really make a difference today. Unfortunately, I was never able to become active in the program; however, I truly believe our society today needs to implement the type of understanding and tolerance advocated in OUDC. It is an amazing program, and the District is fortunate enough to have it!

7

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I was never fortunate to be a participant in OUDC but i had friends in high school who were part of the program. It is such an important organization to bridge African American and Jewish youth in our DC community. My friends made invaluable friendship and learned an incredible amount about their peers' cultural backgrounds, which in so many ways were similar to theirs. The students shared holidays, milestones and generally bonded as high school friends in an educational, challenging and fun setting. The summer trip that the group took to important Jewish and African American sites in the South was an opportunity that every student should have. I wish I had been able to see the places and meet the people that they did.

10

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The best experience for teens and parents we learned a lot from the program. Our daughter Janell completed the program Class 11, Can't wait for our son Judah to share the experience.

8

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This is a truly exceptional activity for Jewish or Black students. The year long program provides a fabulous opportunity to learn how another minority group fares in today's world. It did a great job showing the value of diversity not only to my son, but to us parents as well. This is probably the best "extracurricular" activity you have never heard of.

8

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My daughter became a member of OUDC. I watched her grew into an educated young woman, who developed the ability to think on her own, to understand and accept racial differences and to truly appreciate diversity. I commend OUDC for its efforts in helping young people to understand and accept racial differences and be able to work together despite their ethnic and racial backgrounds. Truly this organization is serving a profound need to our city and should be supported in any way to continue their great work.

11

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This is a great organization with a great experience to offer youth. Helping them to build better relationships across generations and across racial, ethnic and religious lines. They deserve the interest and support because OUDC is building the leaders of tomorrow.

11

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have met and talked to or heard give presentations several participants and have been very impressed by what they have learned through the program.

11

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

OUDC is truly wonderful! Bridging gaps by bridging people is an awesome concept. Like many parents I like to support my children in all aspects of their life. My daughter has always had a thrist for knowledge about cultures and civil rights for everyone - not just one group. She often involved herself in causes and groups she felt could make a positive change. She found it in OUDC. She had the opportunity to travel the south and found her experience simply fantastic, educational and emotional! I gained so much from what she learned because the experiences didnt just stay with her - she used concepts and methods learned there to organize groups in college to learn about diversity. OUDC is necessary, educational, fun and a blessing. KEEP UP THE OUTSTANDING WORK!

10

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Two of my grandchildren have had the extraordinary experience of participating in OUDC. I had the pleasure of meeting each of their groups when they visited New York and could watch them in action. I was impressed not only with the participants but with the quality of the leadership. I know that the experience will be a positive life-long influence on their lives, the proof being that they have made and maintained friendships with some of the people they've meet through OUDC.

10

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

As a director of a school which sent many students to OUDC I was always impressed with the claiber of the training and the change of our students. It instills a sense of pride and encourages dialogue between Jewish American and African American teens-the future of our country. We invited OUDC to faciliate discussions with our teens and adults. Always an extremely thought provoking session.

10

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

As a high school guidance counselor at a private school chock full of incredible opportunities, it is high praise indeed for me to say that OUDC offers students an uparalleled experience. The chance to meet leaders of the civil rights movement is particularly special because this is a generation that will soon be lost to old age and the course of life.

7

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Participating in the OUDC program has been the best, enriching experience for my daughter thus far. She has grown so much while participating in the program. She has made lasting friendships. More importantly she has a new awareness of the socioeconomic and racial challenges that exist in our society. The program lets children explore their similarities and celebrate their differences. I highly recommend the OUDC program.