I have been involved with this organization for more than 15 years. First as a student and now as a board member. Operation Understand DC is a transformative organization that actively works to impact change by growing a generation of leaders who are trained to tackle issues surrounding racism, anti-semitism, and all forms of discrimination.
This program is nearly 25 years old and its ability to remain sustainable over such a long period of time, speaks to the value that it provides not only to the individual students it engages, but the community who they in turn serve.
I'm both a parent of an OUDC alum and a present board member. OUDC does a wonderful job educating young people about the real meaning of diversity and inclusion. The high school students in the program learn about themselves, their communities and history, and communities and histories they often knew nothing about. And they learn to be leaders in working for social justice. It's a great program, and I'm proud to be a part of it.
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.
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.
My daughter's experience as an OUDC class member was truly life altering. She now teaches in a low performing urban, public school and the leadership skills, cultural perspectives, and understandings she developed during her year with OUDC are helping her to succeed in a very challenging endeavor. As a parent, I grew along with my daughter. For those students who are fortunate to be accepted into the program, OUDC provides them with a unique set of tools to make a real difference in the world.
Parent of a former OUDC student and current Board member
As a parent of a former participant (Class 10) and a current Board Member, I cannot laud and support the mission and program of Operation Understanding enough. The exposure provided to the participants, and by virtue of that their friends and family, has been described as inspirational, momentous and an awakening. The Black and Jewish youth involved seem to find a direction that put them on a life-track of giving, sharing and positive change. What a difference involvement can make!
OUDC has successfully transformed the perspectives of not only hundreds of young people, but also the many thousands they have connected with since their program years. Though I have been a teacher, mentor and trustee for the organization, I have also benefited and grown immeasurably by my contact with the students.
OUDC's approach enables young leaders to form meaningful relationships while learning about historical injustices. They take their knowledge and friendships with them into their current high schools and communities, as well as into their future experiences at college and in the workplace. OUDC adds value to individual lives and thereby transforms communities.
Operation Understanding is a very special program that has a profound impact on the students who are privileged to participate and on their families as well. Two of my daughters took part in the program and grew enormously as a result and are now following career paths inspired by their experience with OUDC. It is my privilege to serve on the Board and dedicate myself to the growth and continuation of a truly unique and powerful program.
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....
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.
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.
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.