On July 20, The Innovation Fund will issue its next call for applications. The topic: Innovation in Service of Health & Safety for Workers. This time, $75K - $150K is available for early stage ideas. Why? Worker health and safety can't wait.
Workers deserve health and safety right now.
Think about who is taking care of us: Black and Latina women are the primary providers of home health care, institutional care, domestic work, and childcare. In these low-wage positions, essential workers face frequent exposure to the coronavirus. They bear the brunt of the risks in caring for us yet reap none of the guarantees and protections afforded to non-essential workers.
We owe essential workers personal protective equipment (PPE) and adequate safety procedures. We owe them health insurance and access to health care. We owe them time off to heal or care for sick family members without fear of losing their jobs or income.
In communities of color, small businesses keep neighbors connected, fed, supplied, and encouraged. But these very same businesses have limited access to the resources they need to keep themselves and their workers safe.
Bus drivers are dying from COVID-19. So are grocery store cashiers and stockers. So are essential workers in meatpacking plants, farms, shipping warehouses, frozen food packaging companies, and call centers.
For workers who have had to leave their homes during this pandemic to make ends meet, and who will be on the frontlines as local economies begin reopening - we owe them all.
We owe them safety and health, financial security, and benefits.
We owe workers a voice.
Why the moment is now to innovate for workers’ health and safety.
Many workers have faced these vulnerabilities for a long time. The progressive changes, benefits, and basic protections gained in the 20th century did not extend to everyone. Certain segments of immigrants, women, people of color, people with disabilities, LGBTQ people, and more have been left out. Many of these are the same workers we call “essential” today.
In this moment, we have an opportunity to redress these wrongs. Now is the time to extend protection, recourse, and safe working conditions to all workers.
Without concerted and clear guidance from the federal government, communities and essential workers nationwide are coming up with their own plans, fighting for their lives and their livelihoods. The fractured public response necessitates innovation.
As regional economies reopen, even more workers across the country will be subjected to a challenge of unprecedented scale. As uncertainty about massive testing looms, essential workers are not only being exposed to risks, but risk the health of their households with no guarantees for care costs or time off.
Essential workers should be at the front of health and safety efforts.
Right now, innovation can mean life or death for many essential workers. Businesses have an obligation to guarantee workers’ safety, because they are on the front lines and their lives are at stake. It is our purpose as an organization to give new ideas about increasing power for workers a chance to succeed, and there’s no better time than right now.
The time is now for 21st century solutions for occupational safety to emerge.
Today is our opportunity to think about occupational safety and public safety, to reimagine worker wellbeing in the context of power, and to envision the safety-net protections we should build into our systems to ensure workers fare better in the next crisis.
The upcoming cycle will offer funding for early stage ideas.
Next week, we’ll start looking for leaders who listen to essential workers and can imagine ways to provide the health and safety resources we owe them. We have funding available for early stage and pilot-ready ideas for supports that guarantee essential, low-wage workers’ health, safety, and economic security.
Ideas can take the shape of:
- Policy experiments
- Programs that build worker agency
- Multi-stakeholder partnerships
- Tools for relaying real-time information on safety rules and regulations
- Technology enabled health and safety solutions
Our goal with this cycle of The Innovation Fund is to seize this opportunity to surface and explore ideas for and from workers. Ideas ready to pilot will be eligible for $150,000. Early stage ideas not yet ready to pilot will be eligible for $75,000.
To learn more about the Summer 2020 funding cycle, visit The Innovation Fund page. There, you'll find the:
- Selection criteria
- Frequently asked questions
To hear when the Summer 2020 funding cycle opens, sign up to receive emails from The Innovation Fund.