Our purpose at The Workers Lab is to give new ideas for and with workers a chance to succeed. Our Innovation Fund is one of the ways we achieve this purpose. It’s how we invest in innovators and entrepreneurs who are serving workers and addressing the challenges faced by workers.
Since 2014, the Innovation Fund has invested $5.7 million in 77 innovators.
We understand that bringing transformative ideas for and with workers to fruition requires investment. Far too many worker-led ideas, especially those by entrepreneurs of color and women, never see the light of day since they historically receive only a tiny fraction of the early investment enjoyed by others. The Workers Lab is changing that. The ideas we invest in are collectively making the ways our country serves workers more modern and inclusive to ensure that every worker is safe, healthy, secure, and has power.
The application cycle for our 2022/2023 Innovation Fund has closed.
Please use the form on the right to start receiving updates on future cycles.
Here are a few details about this cycle:
Congratulations to our 2021 innovators!
a rapidly expanding collective of app-based food delivery workers in New York who are organizing for better working conditions, livable wages, healthy and safe work environments, and pay transparency, while building pathways for worker representation in the app-based delivery industry.
is working to catalyze leadership development through technology. The new set of technology tools will help organizers listen and learn from their members, activate users into worker leaders, and spotlight opportunities for deeper engagement.
is a project that guides working mothers on paths to financial security and wealth creation with mobile tools, such as tax preparation and savings support, and coaching tailored to meet their unique financial needs.
The following are considered as applications are evaluated:
Additionally, we’ve identified the following areas of interest and encourage applicants who are serving workers in:
How often does The Workers Lab run the Innovation Fund?
In 2022/2023, we are running one cycle of the Innovation Fund. In the past, we have run up to three cycles in one year.
Who can I contact if I have any questions or need more information?
You can contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have additional questions.
What types of organizations or entities can apply?
Nearly any type of organization or entity is eligible to apply, including:
Can past applicants apply?
Yes, we encourage past applicants to apply unless they have already received an award for the project from The Workers Lab, or were a winner in the most recent cycle of the Innovation Fund.
Are there any geographic restrictions?
Yes, awards from the Innovation Fund are limited to organizations that have a United States Tax ID or social security number.
Are there any industry/sector restrictions?
Are there any restrictions on the staff or budget size of a project or organization?
No. However, the goal of this fellowship is to invest in early-stage ideas.
Can I/we apply with more than one project?
Yes, but please note that we will only select one project per individual/organization.
How will I/we be evaluated?
On the “Selection Considerations” tab, you will find more information about the criteria and questions we use to evaluate applicants in each round. Applicants will receive an average score based on reviewer responses and reviewers will decide on fellows primarily based on top scores.
Is there an expectation that the project is self-sustaining or that it becomes incorporated (as a nonprofit, for-profit, etc.) by the end of the grant term?
No. That said, we are especially interested in projects that have thoughtfully considered long-term possibilities for the project, including pathways for independent revenue generation.
Who are the reviewers?
Reviewers in each round will include a mix of The Workers Lab staff and Board of Directors, subject matter experts, funding partners, worker-leaders, and previous winners of the Innovation Fund.
If selected as a winner, what can I/we use the funds for? Are there any restrictions?
Grant dollars are generally flexible, as long as they are used in support of the proposed project. Winners will be required to provide a final financial report as part of our reporting process. The Workers Lab allows indirect cost rates of up to 15% for any grant recipients.
Outside of the cash prize, what can winners expect from participation in the Innovation Fund?
At The Workers Lab, we are committed to evaluating progress, learning from successes and challenges, and ensuring that we are regularly leveraging our network to amplify the work of our amazing partners while minimizing administrative burden. With that in mind, winners are expected to participate in interim and final check-in calls, support learning outputs, as well as submit a final financial report. The Workers Lab provides mentorship, training, and other forms of organizational support where we can add value.