The Innovation Fund

Your Idea. Our Investment.

Since 2014, the Innovation Fund has invested $6.4 million in 86 innovators.


This year’s application cycle opens on Monday, April 22, 2024, and closes on Monday, July 15, 2024, at 11:59 PM PT. Create an account to start your application HERE.

TWL is offering fellowship opportunities on two topics:

  • Climate Justice
  •  Generative Artificial Intelligence (Gen AI) 

Which could result in an additional year of funding and support for innovators. 

Workers across the country are being dramatically impacted by climate change and the emergence of AI. We are looking for innovators who are tackling these challenges in ways that help ensure more workers are safe, healthy, secure, and have power.

During the 5-month fellowship, you will:
  • Receive training to scale your ideas and maximize your impact on workers
  • Access mentorship and guidance from experienced professionals in the field
  • Bring your ideas to life and set yourself up for larger investments
  • Connect with a vibrant community of fellow entrepreneurs who support you
  • Receive a monthly stipend 
  • Participate in programming for 12 - 15 hours per month. 

At the end of the five-month fellowship, at least three final Innovation Fund winners will be selected to receive a larger investment of up to $200,000 in their idea, as well as another full year of mentorship and support.

Do you have questions about the 2024 Innovation Fund?

Register Now for Our Innovation Fund Informational Webinar April 17, 10 - 11 AM PT / 1 - 2 PM ET

Here’s What We’re Looking for on Climate Justice

Are you working on innovative projects that address climate change or environmental justice while prioritizing the needs and rights of workers?

We’re interested in: 

  • Climate solutions that promote quality work and support a green economy transition in modern and inclusive ways for all workers.
  • Environmental justice initiatives that tackle the immediate needs of workers and their communities impacted by climate change.
  • Other worker-centered climate ideas that are not included in the breakdown above.
What We’re Looking for on Gen AI

Do you have ideas about harnessing the power of artificial intelligence to enhance the working conditions and opportunities for workers?

We’re interested in: 

  • AI solutions that empower workers and create equitable access to greater economic stability and opportunity, including ethical distribution and adoption.
  • Leveraging AI to promote worker safety, health, security, and power. 
  • Other worker-centered ideas leveraging AI that are not included in the breakdown above.

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 all workers are safe, healthy, secure, and have power.

Interested in learning more? 

  1. Review the resources below, including our timeline, selection criteria, and FAQ.
  2. Use the form to the right to start receiving updates on the Innovation Fund.
  3. Check out these videos profiling the 2021 and 2202/2023 Innovation Fund winners!

Send Me Alerts About The Innovation Fund

Recent Innovation Fund Winners

Congratulations to our 2021 innovators!

Los Deliveristas Unidos

Los Deliveristas Unidos

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.

WorkIt Platform

United for Respect Education Fund's WorkIt Platform

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. 

Let_s Get Set

Let's Get Set

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. 


  • Applications accepted | April 22, 2024 - July 15, 2024
  • Fellows announced | September 2024
  • Five-month fellowship program | October 2024 - March 2025
  • In-person showcase and final winners announced | April 2025
  • Winners receive continued support and mentorship | Through May 2026

The following are considered as applications are evaluated:

  • Innovators from backgrounds traditionally underrepresented among those who receive venture capital and startup funding, especially entrepreneurs who identify as women of color.
  • Innovators with lived experience in the issue area they are addressing. 
  • Innovators, especially those with early-stage ideas (idea, solution, pre-pilot) centered around making the ways our country serves workers more modern and inclusive are encouraged to apply. 
    • Idea - You’ve identified a critical problem facing workers and are now researching whether solutions exist.
    • Solution - You’ve begun honing in on the potential solution you want to develop (product, program, service, tool, strategy, etc.) and are scoping a prototype.
    • Pre-Pilot - You have a solution that you’ve conceptualized/designed a prototype for. Now, you’re seeking partners and seed funding for a future pilot.
    • Pilot - You’re pilot-ready or have already begun experimenting with a set of workers and are collating proof points that validate the project’s impact.
    • Implementation - You've seen initial evidence of success and are ready to expand to a larger group of workers beyond the pilot; the model is undergoing improvements based on learnings from the pilot phase.
    • Scale - You’re confident in the model and ready to apply it in a new context to reach more or different workers (broadening geographies, actualizing cross-sector applications, expanding with new partners, replicating the model, or translating the model into national or federal-level applications).
  • Innovators with plans for diversified future revenue streams that support long-term sustainability.
  • Innovators who need startup capital and technical support, and have ambition for their ideas to be brought to scale.


How often does The Workers Lab run the Innovation Fund?
In 2024, we are running one cycle of the Innovation Fund covering two topics. 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 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:

  • For-profit companies
  • Social enterprises (public-benefit corporations - B-Corps, etc.)
  • Individual Entrepreneurs
  • Co-operatives or other worker-led entities
  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Projects that have established a relationship with a fiscal sponsor but are not independent organizations themselves

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.


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