Operation Understanding DC

For over twenty years, Operation Understanding DC has worked to bring together African American and Jewish teens for a year-long leadership development program to learn about each other's culture and has built a generation of African-American and Jewish community leaders who promote cultural respect and understanding in the community. Each year, OUDC brings together 24 high school students from around the DC region to participate in bi-monthly weekend retreats that break down barriers and enable the young people to know each other on a meaningful level.   In addition, students learn about different cultures, religions, history and the struggle for civil rights in the United States. The culmination is a Summer Journey conducted every July over nine states and nineteen cities in New York and across the south, where participants speak with civil rights leaders, follow the historic Freedom Rides of the 1960s, and visit landmarks in the civil rights movement. 

In June, Program Director Avi Edelman and two program alumni students conducted a presentation at the COPS Office to provide information about OUDC and lead participants in exercises about perception and cultural understanding. Edelman explained that the same cognitive processes individuals use to organize and filter information can also lead to misperception and misunderstanding between community members and groups of people. To counter unconscious bias, Edelman and the alumni students initiated dialogues about privilege awareness, perception, and prejudice-reduction, helping COPS staff to lean into discomfort and explore the lenses through which all of us view our worlds.

During the last two decades, more than 500 students and their families have directly participated in OUDC’s award-winning program, and through their outreach efforts over 65,000 students and adults have participated in workshops, speeches, and information sessions about bias, discrimination and respect for other cultures. Operation Understanding DC alumni live across the country and can provide resources for law enforcement agencies and community groups interested in learning how to overcome bias and increase respect for all community members. Program Director Avi Edelman welcomes calls (202-234-6832) or emails (aedelman@oudc.org) about the OUDC program, and more information is available at the OUDC website.

Back to top

COPS Office Photo Contest – July Winner | Public Agencies Head Online to Poll Residents, Gather Input | When Serving Meets Surviving – Officer Mindset Matters | Operation Understanding DC