The Okra Project
The Okra Project
|Formation||January 1, 2018|
|Purpose||Direct support for Black trans and non-binary people|
|Headquarters||Brooklyn, New York|
|Services||Total health and wellness of Black Trans and non binary people via mutual-aid and resources.|
|Gabrielle Inès Souza|
The Okra Project is an American mutual aid collective that provides support to black trans, non-binary, and gender-nonconforming people. The organization is based in New York City. As of January 2023, Gabrielle Inès Souza serves as the Executive Director of the Okra Project.
The Okra Project was founded in January 2018 to combat food insecurity among Black trans people. The organizations beginning mission focused on hiring and training Black trans people as chefs who then would provide meals for fellow community members in the comfort of their homes. At the time, they collaborated with Chef Meliq August, who runs a trans chef service. The provided meals were of African diasporic cuisines. After its founding, it was stated that the intention was to run the New York-based collective, which operates entirely on individual donations, until its funds were depleted. However, donations and worldwide support continued to grow.
In light of social distancing requirements implemented in New York related to COVID-19, The Okra Project switched to providing groceries to Black trans people and raising money for mental health services. As of June 2020, the organization had provided groceries to thousands of people and provided mental health resources to 200. The organization also expanded its services to Philadelphia and New Jersey due to high demand.
As of January 2023, Gabrielle Inès Souza was announced as the Executive Director of The Okra Project with a vision of continuing the organizations legacy of mutual-aid and support at a more national level through the organizations newly founded pillars of nourishment, safety and wellness. This announcement signals and continues the legacy of such historic moments - a Black Trans Femme led national non profit in the United States.
The Okra Project has nation-wide reach, though most of the organization’s programs are specifically designed to facilitate aid to Black and brown Trans and gender non-conforming individuals across the NYC metro area. Since its founding, The Okra Project has provided nearly $3 million in direct mutual aid, ad hoc programming, and partnerships to nearly 10,000 Black and brown Trans and gender non-conforming individuals across the country.
Legacy programs include rental, utilities, and grocery support; COVID-19 relief funds; and partnerships with companies like UberEats and BetterHelp aimed at providing access to safe transportation, meal and food delivery services, and mental health aid. The Okra Project has several core strategies to achieve its vision of providing comprehensive wellness for Black and brown Trans and gender non-conforming people, with an emphasis on Black Trans femmes. The organization’s primary aim is to provide financial assistance via mutual aid to its most vulnerable community members in order to make tangible and direct impacts on those within the community who need it most.
The organization also prioritizes community building in order to connect individuals and other local organizations, solidify social wellbeing, and foster intra-community solidarity and connectedness.
On February 11, 2021, comedian Nicole Byer won $45,550 for the charity while playing the celebrity edition of Wheel of Fortune.
The organization continues to gain support through both individual and corporate level donations, as well as grant funding.
Currently, The Okra Project is a fiscally sponsored organization.
- ^ "The Okra Project is delivering food to black Trans people in NYC". The FADER. Retrieved 2020-06-15.
- ^ "Can't Go Out and Protest? Here's How to Help From Home". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved 2020-06-15.
- ^ Lampen, Claire (2020-06-14). "How to Support the Struggle Against Police Brutality". The Cut. Retrieved 2020-06-15.
- ^ a b c Sprayregen, Molly. "How The Okra Project Is Fighting Hunger In The Black Transgender Community". Forbes. Retrieved 2020-06-15.
- ^ a b "The Okra Project Is Doing Essential Work For Black Trans Folks". www.out.com. 2020-06-12. Retrieved 2020-06-15.
- ^ a b Michelle Kim. "The Okra Project Is Feeding Their Black Trans Siblings, One Meal at a Time". them. Retrieved 2020-06-15.
- ^ Mims, Paul O. (June 24, 2020). "When Okra Means Hope". Food & Wine Magazine. Retrieved 8 July 2020.
- African-American history in New York City
- Organizations established in 2018
- Organizations based in New York City
- African-American LGBT organizations
- Food- and drink-related organizations
- Transgender organizations in the United States
- LGBT health organizations in the United States
- 2018 establishments in New York City