• Why does OUDC exist?
• What is OUDC’s impact?
• Who can participate?
• What is the application process?
• How many students are in each class?
• How long is the program?
• How much are participants required to pay to join the program?
• Who funds the program?
• Are contributions to OUDC tax-deductible?
• How did the organization begin?
• What is an OUDC facilitation or workshop?
• Is Operation Understanding a national organization?
Discrimination, in all its forms, continues to be an insidious and pervasive problem in America. Through OUDC's year long Social Justice Fellowship, OUDC seeks to shift the knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and behaviors of the Fellows. All of our components of the Fellowship are designed to encourage a dialogue that demands that the Fellows scrutinize and modify their own behavior and thoughts. The intense experiential learning that occurs during the Fellowship, especially our Summer Journey, is the catalyst for changed attitudes and increased social consciousness to lead to engagement in the movement for social justice.
What is OUDC’s impact?
As of 2021, more than 600 students have directly participated in OUDC’s Social Justice Fellowship Program. Through the outreach effort of the Fellows, more than 65,000 students and adults have participated in fulfilling our overall goal—the elimination of all forms of discrimination.
Who can participate?
OUDC recruits high school juniors from all over the Washington metropolitan area. Students must have demonstrated leadership potential, inquisitiveness, maturity, and commitment to their community, as well as excellent communications skills. Our students attend a variety of public, private and charter schools in the greater Washington area.
What is the application process?
Application deadlines are set annually. Please click on the “apply” section of our website for additional details. Only students who submit their completed application by the deadline will be considered for an interview.
How long is the program?
OUDC is a year-long program. Graduates are called upon to make presentations and lead prejudice awareness and reduction workshops throughout the community until they graduate from high school.
Funding comes from generous, private donations from individuals, foundations, congregations, and corporations who share our vision of equality. Our largest expense is the Summer Journey, which costs approximately $65,000.
How did the organization begin?
Operation Understanding DC was founded in 1993 by Karen Kalish. Karen was inspired by a similar program in Philadelphia started by The Honorable William H. Gray III, then a U.S. Congressman representing Philadelphia, and George M. Ross.
With more than one and a quarter million African Americans and 215,000 Jews in the D.C. metro area, Karen was sure such a program could have an enormous impact on, and make a major change in the deteriorating relationship between, the two groups in the nation's capital.
What is an OUDC facilitation or workshop?
OUDC empowers students to combat discrimination and promote respect through their actions and by engaging our community in open, honest dialogue. By facilitating diversity workshops, our students provide their peers, younger students and adults with the opportunity to discuss their fears, ask questions and share their experiences by using age- and group-appropriate exercises. Students are trained to maintain a neutral position on discussion content; to engage all participants in the conversation; and to handle racist and offensive remarks.
Is Operation Understanding a national organization?
No, OUDC is not part of an umbrella organization. However, it is not the only Operation Understanding program in the country, such as the one in Philadelphia, PA. Our organizations strive to strengthen the relationship between the Black and Jewish communities through our young leaders, though we individually determine program curriculum, class size and admissions standards. In addition, each group has our own Board of Directors and is responsible for our own budget.
Operation Understanding DC is a service mark and trademark owned by a District of Columbia non-profit organization of that name operating exclusively in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Operation Understanding DC is not to be confused with the service mark and trade name Operation Understanding owned by a non-profit Pennsylvania organization of that name with a similar mission which operates throughout the United States and elsewhere, with the exception of the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.