Applications for the 2021-2022 program are now available. All 11th grade students in D.C., Maryland and Virginia are welcome to apply! Applications are due Wednesday, March 31 at 11:59 p.m. Due to the ongoing public health crisis, the 2021 program will be conducted in a virtual format. For more information, please review the information below. 

To apply for the OUDC program for this year, please use the links below to access our Application and Recommendation forms.

If you have questions or would like to request a paper copy, please contact Program Director Nikki Perkins at

Apply for OUDC's 2021 program year now!

Recommend a student for OUDC's 2021 program year now!

Operation Understanding DC (OUDC) is excited to welcome applicants for its 2021 Social Justice Fellowship Cohort! Due to the ongoing public health crisis, OUDC will operate a virtual fellowship program to prioritize the safety of both staff and fellows. This is the second year that OUDC has offered a virtual fellowship program. OUDC will explore offering limited, socially-distant in-person gatherings for fellows based on its ongoing assessment of the risks associated with the pandemic.  

Meeting virtually creates unique opportunity to broaden the experiences of the Fellows by engaging dynamic thought leaders from around the country to contribute to content. During the 2020 program year, Fellows were able to meet with figures spanning from Civil Rights activists such as Lewis Zuchman, a former Freedom Rider and Joanne Bland, who marched in Selma alongside Martin Luther King and John Lewis to modern day activists such as Hawk Newsome, founder of Black Lives Matter New York and Cindy Trinh, a photographer/visual journalist who centers her work around social justice and has been featured in publications such as The New York Daily News and The Hill. OUDC’s 2020 program Fellows provided great feedback about the program and the relationships they were able to build with one another in a virtual setting.  

Each year as a part of the Social Justice Fellowship, OUDC traditionally hosts an annual Summer Journey, during which Fellows are given the opportunity to travel to the South to explore historic sites and meet with figures who were active throughout the Civil Rights movement. This is an intensive two weeks that where students have the opportunity to experience of history firsthand. Due to Covid restrictions, we are not able to travel for this year’s Summer Journey. However, we have successfully transitioned the experience to a virtual platform, sacrificing none of the impact of the Journey and deepening its impact. Through the virtual program, Fellows will have the opportunity to participate in interactive, virtual visits to historic sites across the United States that they otherwise would not able to visit during the Fellowship’s traditional summer journey. 

In addition to access to enhanced content, the virtual program also helps Fellows build skills that are increasingly important for success in school, the workplace and as emerging social justice leaders, including: building deep, meaningful relationships and communities in virtual spaces; successfully engaging in difficult conversations from afar to further understanding and resolve conflict; and developing concrete tools to advocate for social justice through online platforms. 
The pandemic has brought about unprecedented circumstances, which none of us anticipated. As an organization OUDC is committed to continuing to innovate and adapt as we strive to empower a generation of young social justice leaders, and we hope that you will consider applying. Together, we can make this year a transformative experience for all! 

1.1 No student shall be accepted into a class of Operation Understanding DC without having submitted a complete application and written recommendations by the publicized due date. Due date extensions may be made by staff as circumstances warrant.

1.2 No student shall be admitted into a class of Operation Understanding DC without satisfactory participation in the interview process.

1.3 No applicant shall receive preferential treatment or a favorable review of his or her application based on having a relationship with any current or past participant, current or former Board member, staff member, volunteer and/or donor.

1.4 Any volunteer, donor, Board or staff member who has a relationship (i.e. is a friend, mentor, teacher, or has knowledge of an applicant that makes an objective evaluation of the applicant a challenge) will be deemed to have a conflict of interest when assessing an applicant’s candidacy.

1.5 Any volunteer or staff member who is involved with selecting students for participation in a class must divulge any conflicts of interest as defined above prior to interviewing and evaluating the student. The Chair(s) of the Recruitment Selection Committee (at his/her/their sole discretion) will determine how to resolve said conflict(s).

The strength of OUDC’s program relies on the commitment of our students. Participants must be: open to different opinions and ideas; enthusiastic about contributing honestly and respectfully; and able to attend all of the programming components planned for the year.

Selection Process

Students are interviewed by a committee consisting of volunteers, board members, peers, and staff.

Other Multicultural Youth Programs
If you are interested in participating in a cross-cultural program, but OUDC is not right for you, please visit and to help you connect with other organizations that focus on dialogue and social justice.

Consider starting your own diversity or dialogue group if your high school does not have one. We would be happy to put you in touch with OUDC alumni who have created their own programs.