Social Justice Fellowship

Since 1993, Operation Understanding DC (OUDC) has worked with youth in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia with the goal of empowering a generation of social justice leaders. OUDC’s signature program is the Social Justice Fellowship, a transformational year long program for high school juniors. Following their engagement in OUDC's year long Social Justice Fellowship program, Fellows are able to recognize, confront and challenge racism, anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination and will be prepared to educate others on how to do the same. The year long program applies a progressive, phased approach to building knowledge, skills and abilities related to social justice. The program also aims to help Fellows explore their own identities and shift their attitudes and beliefs related to equity and justice. 

OUDC recognizes the unique opportunity to work with change agents at the beginning of what, for many, becomes a lifelong pursuit of justice. As Fellows explore their role in the movement, OUDC empowers the rising generation of activists to set boundaries, preserve their mental and physical health and sustain their energy to act as leaders for the long-haul. OUDC creates a culture of care that prioritizes wellness and cultivates resilience from the launch of the fellowship through Phase Three by integrating practical skills and tools to promote the concept of “resting for the resistance.” 

Throughout all phases of the Fellowship, OUDC nurtures foundational social and emotional skills as a common thread. The experiential learning approach creates opportunities for the Fellows to deepen self-awareness, improve their relationship skills and heighten their social awareness. As they navigate difficult topics that can touch on deeply personal issues, Fellows also practice self-management and better understand how their decision-making affects others. Communication skills are at the core of advancing social change and, as such, are a central focus in all aspects of the year long program. In Phase One, Fellows work together to develop community guidelines to foster constructive dialogue around difficult topics. In Phase Two, OUDC Fellows build upon the communication skills they’ve established with their peers to take on facilitation roles within the Fellowship and, on a more limited basis, with external partners. In the final Phase of the program, Fellows hone their communication skills through one-on-one coaching and lead multiple community-based conversations about social justice. 

3 Phases of Transformation

OUDC's Social Justice Fellowship

Each year, OUDC facilitates its year long signature program to empower the next generation of social justice leaders.

Understanding History

Self-exploration, dialogue, community-building

Living History

Immersive learning experiences and travel

Making History

Leadership development for the next generation of social justice leaders

Graduating Fellows are able to recognize, confront and challenge all forms of discrimination and educate others on how to do the same.