Orange Is the New Black is officially on a mission to help incarcerated women on and off screen. On Thursday, Netflix posted a YouTube video announcing the launch of the Poussey Washington Fund, which will support eight non-profit organizations focused on issues and themes relevant to the women throughout the series, including criminal justice reform, ending mass incarceration, and protecting immigrant rights.
The fund is named after Samira Wiley's character, Poussey Washington, a Litchfield inmate who is accidentally suffocated during a prison riot by an untrained corrections officer. Following Poussey's death, her best friend Taystee starts a foundation in her name to help incarcerated women, and the show has since made it a reality. "Through the Poussey Washington Fund, our characters can live on and continue to make an impact after the show has come to an end," show creator Jenji Kohan told The Hollywood Reporter. "Taystee recognized an opportunity to make a difference for her fellow inmates, and we saw no reason why we couldn't launch our own initiative to have an effect in the real world."
In playing Poussey, Wiley has seen the impact that her character's storyline and that of other characters has had on viewers. "We have seen how Orange Is the New Black has impacted you and people all over the world," Wiley said in the video announcing the initiative. "We've been honored to tell these stories of these characters, and we've learned firsthand that the system is failing women, both inside and outside of prison walls."
The eight programs supported by the fund aim to help women from all walks of life who are affected by the prison industrial complex in the United States.
"A number of [the programs] are led by formerly incarcerated women, which is really important to all of us who are associated with the fund," said Piper Kerman, the author of Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison, which inspired the Netflix series. "These are programs, quite frankly, that should be replicated in every state in the country . . . The Poussey Washington Fund has the potential to be really transformative to these organizations, and I believe the fans will absolutely rise to the challenge." In addition to supporting the foundation, Kerman continues to urge lawmakers to pass criminal justice reforms to improve conditions for female inmates.
To donate, visit the Poussey Washington Fund's GoFundMe at crowdrise.com/PWF, and see a full list of the organizations the foundation supports ahead: