The Innovation Fund

Your Idea. Our Support.

PUT YOUR IDEAS TO WORK FOR WORKERS

We need to act now: Workers' health and safety can't wait.

Today's workers risk daily exposure to coronavirus while getting their jobs done. It is in this moment of a global pandemic that we see how the gains of the 20th century economy have left behind the very workers who are essential to keeping it afloat.

We must seize this opportunity to redress these wrongs. We must extend protection, recourse, and safe working conditions to all workers.

That's why our Summer 2020 cycle of The Innovation Fund will call for applications specifically about the topic of: Worker Health & Safety.  

For Summer 2020, we’re calling for new ideas for and from workers and leaders who are listening to them. Innovations can be: 

  • 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

Early Stage Ideas Wanted
We will award two types of cash prizes:

  • Pilot-ready solutions - $150,000
  • Emergent/early stage ideas - $75,000

In addition to the cash prize, winners receive technical support over 12 months to test their idea's potential for growth. If you, or someone you know, has an idea to help guarantee workers' health and safety, please sign up to receive alerts for the Summer 2020 call for applications.

Open Call

We are now accepting applications with ideas in service of worker health and safety.

You could receive up to $150,000.

Apply Now

CATALYTIC FUNDING FOR WORKER-INSPIRED SOLUTIONS

CALL FOR APPLICATIONS

Open | July 20
Close | August 17 at 11:59 pm PT

OFFICE HOURS

Sign up for a 15-minute appointment during the following times.
July 31 | 9:00 - 11:00 am PT
August 7 | 9:00 – 11:00 am PT
August 14 | 9:00 – 11:00 am PT
> Self-schedule using this Google calendar

WEBINARS

July 29 | 1:00 - 2:00 pm PT
August 6 | 10:00 - 11:00 PT
> Watch On Demand

WINNERS

Winners Announced | Fall 2020

OPEN CALL

  • This project addresses a critical problem facing workers today.
  • This project proposes an innovative solution that directly addresses the outlined problem.
  • This project has a clear approach improving and/or securing workers' health and safety.
  • This project outlines clear S.M.A.R.T. goals.
  • This project employs effective strategies to achieve the outlined S.M.A.R.T. goals.
  • This project has identified or thoughtfully considered a potential pathway to scale and/or sustainability through new revenue sources and/or by leveraging for-profit, non-profit and/or public sector partners.

FINALS

  • This team has the skills and experience needed to successfully execute this project.
  • This project has thoughtfully considered how to maximize The Innovation Fund dollars and raise new funding sources to advance this project.
  • This project has a strong process for continuous learning and generating real-time insights.
  • The project leader can convey a clear and compelling pitch by video. We're looking for compelling content, not video quality.

ELIGIBILITY & APPLICATION

What types of organizations or entities can apply?

  • Non-profit organizations or fiscally sponsored projects
  • Public sector entities 
  • For-profit and/or social enterprises

Can past applicants apply?
Yes, the Summer 2020 cycle of The Innovation Fund is limited to organizations in the United States.

Are there any geographic restrictions? 
Generally, there are no restrictions and we welcome projects nationally and outside of the United States to apply. While we have primarily funded projects based in the United States, we know there are promising innovations happening outside of the United States that have global implications and can have impact in the United States.

Are there any industry/sector restrictions?
No.

Are there any restrictions on the staff or budget size of a project or organization?
No. 

Can I/we apply with more than one project? 
Yes, but please note we will only select one project per organization. 

REVIEW PROCESS

How will I/we be evaluated?
On the “Selection Criteria” 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 semi-finalists and finalists primarily based on top scores. Is there an expectation that the project is self-sustaining or that it becomes incorporated (as a non-profit, for-profit, etc.) by the end of the grant term? No. That said, we are especially interested in projects that have thoughtfully considered a potential pathway to scale and/or sustainability.

Is there an expectation that the project is self-sustaining or that it becomes incorporated (as a non-profit, for-profit, etc.) by the end of the grant term?
No. That said, we are especially interested in projects that have thoughtfully considered a potential pathway to scale and/or sustainability.

Who are the reviewers? 
Reviewers in each round will include a mix of The Workers Lab staff and Board, funding partners, and previous winners of The Innovation Fund.

WINNERS

If selected as a winner, will I/we receive the cash prize all at once?
Yes. 

If selected as a winner, what can I/we use the funds for? Are there any restrictions?
Funds should be used in support of the proposed project only. Winners will be required to provide interim and final financial reports (in addition to other reporting requirements) as part of our reporting process.

Outside of the cash prize, what can winners expect from The Workers Lab?
At The Workers Lab, we are committed to evaluating progress, learning from successes and challenges, and ensuring that we are regularly leveraging our resources and network to amplify the work of our amazing partners, while minimizing administrative burden. With that in mind, winners are expected to participate in quarterly check-in calls and provide interim and final reports. When possible, we will also bring together winners at least once over the course of 12 months for a tailored cohort convening to workshop challenges, share resources, and connect with peers and advisors.

GENERAL QUESTIONS

How often does The Workers Lab run The Innovation Fund?
Three times a year.

Who can I contact if I have any questions or need more information?
You can contact innovationfund@theworkerslab.com if you have additional questions.


Ready To Get Started?

Apply Now

You can also download the application questions.

Spring 2020 Winners

Congratulations to our most recent innovators.

The Forestry and Fire Recruitment Program: Winner of Spring 2020

The Forestry and Fire Recruitment Program

California has a wildfire labor shortage. To fill the gap, the state relies on an incarcerated labor force obtained through "Fire Camps." Using winnings from The Investment Fund, The Forestry and Fire Recruitment Program will scale a workforce development model that trains and connects former fire camp workers to viable careers.

FreeFrom: Winner of Spring 2020

FreeFrom

FreeFrom believes you shouldn't have to take vacation time to seek refuge from domestic abuse. Using $150,000 won during The Innovation Fund's Spring 2020 cycle, FreeFrom will pilot a paid leave and workplace support program tailored to survivor needs for flexibility, privacy, and confidentiality.

Leap Fund: Winner of Spring 2020

Leap Fund

Many low-income workers decide not to take pay raises, increase hours at work, or pursue career advancement because of the “benefits cliff." Leap Fund will use its investment from The Innovation Fund to expand use of a financial product that saves low-income workers’ pay increases until the cliff is cleared.

THE INNOVATION FUND UPDATES