Our mission

One Common Unity (OCU) breaks cycles of violence and builds compassionate, healthy communities through the transformative power of music, arts and peace education.


High-impact, holistic programming

One Common Unity’s (OCU) high-impact, holistic programming engages youth, families, and educators in the DC area to lead a shift towards peace through in-school and after-school programs, mental health services, citywide campaigns, teacher trainings, family engagement sessions, community concerts, and art showcases. From our award-winning Fly By Light prevention program to the Peace Together crisis intervention solution and mental health services, we offer a holistic approach to violence prevention rooted in artistic expression, nature immersion, and social-emotional literacy.

Get to know all our programs and services.

Fly By Light

Behavioral Health Services

Peace Together

Intention Room

Art & Media

Training & Professional Development


Jake Frelick

Senior Director of Programs

Johneé Wilson

Director of OST and Enrichment

Ashlyn Harty

Director of Community-Based Behavioral Health

This is our story

In 2000, following a string of school shootings in Washington, DC, a group of educators and artists came together to catalyze a community-wide cultural shift towards peace. Since then, we have impacted over 35,500 youth and their families through afterschool programs, nature retreats, community dialogues, and citywide campaigns. We have worked in 52 schools in the DC region, trained 12,000+ educators, produced five full-length musical albums and five documentaries, and hosted 85 concerts and community arts showcases.

2011 – present

One Common Unity is born!

Following a string of school shootings in Washington, DC, a group of educators and artists came together to catalyze a community-wide shift away from violence and poverty.

Revel Youth Shine (RYS)

OCU provided arts education, music therapy, non-violence, and leadership development training in the summer months to over 200 inner-city youth, ages 14 – 18, living in Washington, DC, through our “RYS Above the Violence” summer youth initiative. During the RYS program, we took the youth through an intensive learning process to write, record, and ultimately produce their own music CDs that sang of hope, inspiration and communicated their stories of struggle and success. This process led to the creation of five full-length, original music albums.

Children’s Defense Fund “Freedom Schools” Teacher Training Program

OCU trained approximately 8,400 teachers and community organizers from around the country in social-emotional learning and non-violence in the classroom, recognizing that for many low-income youth and youth of color, school teachers and administrators may be their primary support network.

Young Women’s Drumming Empowerment Project (YWDEP)

Over 60 young women from DC high schools participated in drumming, poetry, dance, theater, and self-esteem workshops. This program also created dozens of performance opportunities, where we showcased our youth’s talents to their communities

A Nu View (Youth Filmmaking Program)

In association with Straight, No Chaser Productions, one Common Unity birthed and facilitated the youth filmmaking program “A Nu View.” This program engaged 38 teenagers in the art of filmmaking (how to run lighting, sound, cameras, and more.), scriptwriting, social justice, and conflict resolution. This program produced two youth-directed documentary films (“A Weigh with Words” and “The MLK Streets Project”) that were used as curriculum in several schools around the nation— spreading messages of hope and resilience throughout their communities.

Fly By Light (FBL)

Through Fly By Light (FBL), we bring together educators, artists, musicians, and community leaders to amplify youth voices and shift the paradigm of violence in our society. Our program is structured around five core pillars: Artistic Expression, Health and Wellness, Environmental Leadership, Social-Emotional Literacy, and Social Justice. We designed these pillars to help students find their inner light—and use that light to fly.

Fly By Light Documentary

Since its premiere, our award-winning documentary film has been featured at 16 film festivals and viewed by tens of thousands of people.

Launched the Fly By Light National Training and certification program

We shared our unique model and 200+ page curriculum with educators and youth workers from around the world.

Mental Health Expansion

OCU partnered with the Department of Behavioral Health and District of Columbia Public Schools as an inaugural recipient of the Comprehensive School-Based Based Mental Health Expansion grant, through which we placed full-time mental health clinicians at multiple DC public and public charter schools.

The Melody Lingers On Documentary

Our latest documentary film was featured at the International Social Change Film Festival and Hamilton Black Film Festival where it won for Best Documentary Short Film.

Addressing Gun Violence

Partnering with DC Office of Neighborhood Safety & Engagement and the Office of Victim Services & Justice Grants, OCU launched a new program to provide rapid-response crisis intervention and mental health support services to DC youth impacted by gun violence. 

We Value


Peace-building requires skillful effort. We show up with our whole selves, honor our commitments, and communicate with honesty and transparency. We seek continuous improvement, address our mistakes, own our limitations, and take responsibility for our actions.


We honor the inherent creativity within each person. We believe that a diversity of perspectives and ways of working strengthens our collective potential. We welcome new ways of thinking and doing, push into areas of discomfort, and hold space for a convergence of ideas to ignite us.


We explicitly practice anti-racism and strive for transformative justice as we work to dismantle systems of oppression both internally at One Common Unity and externally in communities we serve. We believe in the continual process of unlearning and relearning, and centering the voices, experiences, and wisdom of people whose identities these systems of oppression have harmed, such as through white supremacy, ableism, sexism, heterosexism, cissexism, and xenophobia. We channel the words of American civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hammer: "Nobody's free until everybody's free."


We believe healing is both an individual and a collective process. It may not look the same person-to-person or follow a linear path. We seek not to ostracize and punish but to create pathways for restorative and transformative justice through individual and community healing. We commit to practicing forgiveness, self-care, and honoring safe boundaries.


We lead with love, listen to learn, celebrate each other's strengths, and embrace our areas for growth. We invite and call each other in—warmly encouraging each person to come as they are and who they are. We honor the perspectives and experiences of others. Where there is conflict, we strive for mutual understanding, empathy, and completeness.

Join the movement