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.
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.
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.