Non-profit

Okra Project

Website:

www.theokraproject.com

Location:

ELMHURST, NY

Tax ID:

83-2173068

Budget (2019):

Revenue: $81,212
Expenses: $73,793
Assets: $8,437

Location:

New York, New York

Founded:

2018

Fiscal Sponsor:

Arts Business Collaborative

Executive Director:

Ianne Fields Stewart

The Okra Project is a New York City-based nonprofit that hires Black transgender chefs for Black transgender people who cannot afford food. The organization also provides money for poor Black transgender people to buy groceries. In the aftermath of the COVID-19 outbreak, it shifted focus towards providing mental health services. [1]

It has received financial support from the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation in the amount of “six figures” in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. [2] It has also received support from Uber [3] and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. [4] The organization is fiscally sponsored by the Arts Business Collaborative. [5]

History

 In December 2018, Ianne Fields Stewart was sitting in on a virtual organizing meeting with Nyla Sampson, creator of the Black Trans Solidarity Fund, an organization that raises money for the support of Black transgender people. Stewart came up with the idea of doing something for Black transgender people who did not have a family to go home to on the holidays. They held a meeting with Meliq August of the restaurant Zaddy’s Kitchen and raised $6,000 to launch the project. [6] The name Okra Project was chosen because enslaved West Africans used to hide okra seeds in their hair before being loaded onto slave ships, to plant them in America. [7]

The project began as hiring Black transgender chefs to cook meals in the homes of Black transgender people who are at risk of going hungry. The chefs cook meals that are specific to African diasporic cuisines. [8]

Before the outbreak of COVID-19, the project began working in Philadelphia. [9] The in-home chef service was stopped with the outbreak of COVID-19.

Activities

In addition to cooking meals, the project sponsors the International Grocery Fund, which allows any Black transgender person to receive $40 to buy groceries anywhere in the world. [10] The project has also created the Okra Academy, which teaches Black transgender people how to cook. [11]

The group has also created a variety of health, wellness, and beauty events called #ByOkra. The events are led by the organization’s community coordinator, Nala Simone Toussaint. [12]

After the outbreak of COVID-19, the project shifted its focus from cooking meals to mental health. It established the Nina Pop Mental Health Recovery Fund and the Tony McDade Mental Health Recovery Fund in order to support one-time mental health therapy sessions between Black therapists and Black transgender people. The funds are named after two Black transgender people who were murdered. [13]

Activism

In June 2020, the Okra Project cosponsored a demonstration in New York City to protest the death of Layleen Polanco, a transgender person who died at the Rikers Island jail. The event was cosponsored by the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, For the Gworls, G.L.I.T.S., and Black Trans Femmes in the Arts. An estimated 15,000 people attended the demonstration, largely clad in white. [14]

Finances

According to Forbes, the Okra Project was receiving $10,000 in donations per day before the nationwide Black Lives Matter protests in summer 2020. Since the protests began through mid-June 2020, it received a reported $100,000 in donations per day. [15] The organization originally raised all its money through a Paypal and Patreon accounts. [16]

The organization has received a grant from the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation worth a reported “six figures” in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. [17]

The organization received a $75,000 donation from Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. [18] In the past, the organization has been sponsored by Uber. [19] In June 2020, figure skater Adam Rippon donated $1,000 to the Okra Project. [20]

In June 2020, a group of young tech professionals teased what turned out to be a non-existent app. They suggested that people could jump the line and learn about the app in exchange for a donation to a selected organization in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. The Okra Project was one of those organizations. The stunt raised more than $200,000 with an unknown amount going to the Okra Project. [21]

In June 2020, the organization NYC Friends of Random Acts hosted a virtual watch party of Supernatural to raise money for the Transgender Law Center and the Okra Project. [22]

People

Ianne Fields Stewart is the founder and current executive director. She is an actress and an activist. [23] Stewart announced that she plans to step down sometime in 2021 and the organization has launched a nationwide search for her replacement. She also plans to sit on the board that will be created to oversee the organization. [24]

References

  1. Sprayregen, Molly. “How The Okra Project Is Fighting Hunger In The Black Transgender Community.” Forbes. June 12, 2020. https://www.forbes.com/sites/mollysprayregen/2020/06/12/how-the-okra-project-is-fighting-hunger-in-the-black-transgender-community/?sh=431ab68573f5. ^
  2. [1] Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation. “BLACK LIVES MATTER 2020 IMPACT REPORT.” 2021. https://blacklivesmatter.com/2020-impact-report/. ^
  3. “Sponsors, Donors & Collabs.” The Okra Project. https://www.theokraproject.com/sponsors-donors-1. ^
  4. Reynolds, Daniel. “The Okra Project Is Doing Essential Work For Black Trans Folks.” Out. June 12, 2020. https://www.out.com/activism/2020/6/12/okra-project-doing-essential-work-black-trans-folks. ^
  5. “Arts Business Collaborative.” Accessed June 28, 2021. https://www.artsbusinesscollaborative.org/fiscal-sponsorship/okra-project. ^
  6. Braithwaite, Patia. “The Founder Of The Okra Project Is On A Mission To Protect Black Trans People.” SELF. June 26, 2020. https://www.self.com/story/supporting-black-trans-people. ^
  7. [1] Kim, Michelle. “The Okra Project Is Feeding Their Black Trans Siblings, One Meal At A Time.” Them. November 27, 2019. https://www.them.us/story/okra-project. ^
  8. Kim, Michelle. “The Okra Project Is Feeding Their Black Trans Siblings, One Meal At A Time.” Them. November 27, 2019. https://www.them.us/story/okra-project. ^
  9. Kim, Michelle. “The Okra Project Is Feeding Their Black Trans Siblings, One Meal At A Time.” Them. November 27, 2019. https://www.them.us/story/okra-project. ^
  10. Kim, Michelle. “The Okra Project Is Feeding Their Black Trans Siblings, One Meal At A Time.” Them. November 27, 2019. https://www.them.us/story/okra-project. ^
  11. Kim, Michelle. “The Okra Project Is Feeding Their Black Trans Siblings, One Meal At A Time.” Them. November 27, 2019. https://www.them.us/story/okra-project. ^
  12. Kim, Michelle. “The Okra Project Is Feeding Their Black Trans Siblings, One Meal At A Time.” Them. November 27, 2019. https://www.them.us/story/okra-project. ^
  13. Sprayregen, Molly. “How The Okra Project Is Fighting Hunger In The Black Transgender Community.” Forbes. June 12, 2020. https://www.forbes.com/sites/mollysprayregen/2020/06/12/how-the-okra-project-is-fighting-hunger-in-the-black-transgender-community/?sh=431ab68573f5. ^
  14. Truong, Kimberly. “An Estimated 15,000 People Marched In Support Of Black Transgender Lives In New York This Weekend.” Yahoo News. June 15, 2020. https://news.yahoo.com/news/estimated-15-000-people-marched-154550717.html.[note] The organizers called for Black transgender people to lead the march and for whites to follow along the perimeter. [note] Truong, Kimberly. “An Estimated 15,000 People Marched In Support Of Black Transgender Lives In New York This Weekend.” Yahoo News. June 15, 2020. https://news.yahoo.com/news/estimated-15-000-people-marched-154550717.html. ^
  15. Sprayregen, Molly. “How The Okra Project Is Fighting Hunger In The Black Transgender Community.” Forbes. June 12, 2020. https://www.forbes.com/sites/mollysprayregen/2020/06/12/how-the-okra-project-is-fighting-hunger-in-the-black-transgender-community/?sh=431ab68573f5. ^
  16. Kim, Michelle. “The Okra Project Is Feeding Their Black Trans Siblings, One Meal At A Time.” Them. November 27, 2019. https://www.them.us/story/okra-project. ^
  17. Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation. “BLACK LIVES MATTER 2020 IMPACT REPORT.” 2021. https://blacklivesmatter.com/2020-impact-report/. ^
  18. Reynolds, Daniel. “The Okra Project Is Doing Essential Work For Black Trans Folks.” Out. June 12, 2020. https://www.out.com/activism/2020/6/12/okra-project-doing-essential-work-black-trans-folks. ^
  19. “Sponsors, Donors & Collabs.” The Okra Project, 2020. https://www.theokraproject.com/sponsors-donors-1. ^
  20. Duffy, Nick. “Homophobic, Racist Russian Olympian Wishes Death On Adam Rippon For Donating To A Black Trans Charity.” Pinknews. June 10, 2020. https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2020/06/10/russia-figure-skater-alexei-yagudin-adam-rippon-black-trans-lives-matter-olympics/. ^
  21. “How Gen Z Punked The Tech Industry 👁👄👁.” 2020. Product Hunt. https://www.producthunt.com/newsletter/5637-how-gen-z-punked-the-tech-industry. ^
  22. “Friends Of Random Acts – NYC To Host Online ‘Supernatural’ Watch Party For Charity!” Nerds And Beyond. June 26, 2020. https://www.nerdsandbeyond.com/2020/06/26/friends-of-random-acts-nyc-to-host-online-supernatural-watch-party-for-charity/. ^
  23. “Team.” The Okra Project. Accessed June 28, 2021. https://www.theokraproject.com/team. ^
  24. “Team.” The Okra Project. Accessed June 28, 2021. https://www.theokraproject.com/team. ^
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: November 1, 2018

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2019 Dec Form 990EZ $81,212 $73,793 $8,437 $1,018 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF

    Okra Project

    PO BOX 800296
    ELMHURST, NY 11380-0296