Dear Friends and Supporters,
The past year has been difficult for everyone due to the ongoing impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. At the start of the national shutdown, OUDC quickly pivoted to create a successful and engaging socially distant program for Class 26. Even as we did so, however, we recognized that young people, in particular, were being significantly affected by the shifts to virtual school, loss of community, and changes in extracurricular activities that the pandemic imposed.
Unfortunately, these factors have led the OUDC Board to conclude that it will not be possible to conduct the program this year. A virtual program without many of the elements that make the OUDC experience transformative for many of our participants — including the Summer Journey — proved less appealing to potential applicants. Despite extending the application deadline and exploring creative solutions to mitigate these pandemic-related challenges, interest in the Social Justice Fellowship was far lower than normal. As a result, we were unable to recruit sufficient applicants to provide an experience that would meet our standards. This will be the first time since 1993 that OUDC has not held the Social Justice Fellowship program. We did not reach this decision lightly.
Like so many who have weathered this difficult year, OUDC has sought to identify the silver linings. The decision to suspend our Social Justice Fellowship program for 2021 provides OUDC the opportunity to assess the program in light of the issues of the day, update or restructure the program as necessary, focus on organizational improvement, and engage with our alumni and other members of the OUDC family. OUDC will also seek opportunities to expand our partnerships and deepen our community connections with other groups working for social justice.
The OUDC Board is committed to reinforcing and strengthening OUDC's place as a community leader on social justice issues. We know that we can count on the continued support of the extended OUDC family, and we commit to keeping you up to date on our work. OUDC remains committed to its vital mission to create a generation of community leaders who promote respect, understanding and cooperation while fighting to eradicate racism, anti-Semitism and all forms of discrimination. OUDC will reintroduce its Social Justice Fellowship in 2022 with a renewed sense of purpose and an unwavering commitment to investing in the next generation of social justice leaders, who we know hold the key to a more just and equitable society.
The OUDC Board