The Innovation Fund

Mentorship, training, and up to $200,000 in funding for worker-centered innovation.

Start Your Application Today

Table Of Contents


Innovative, Effective, and Proven.

The Innovation Fund is a five-month virtual fellowship. Since 2014, The Innovation Fund has invested over $6.4 million in 86 innovators.


Asset 2 2 copy

Just Five Months
to Results

Do you need support bringing your ideas to scale? During the five-month fellowship, we will provide coaching, training, and investment to both transform your idea and scale your impact as a leader.



Asset 5 2

Designed and Tested
For and With Workers

Our experience designing and testing solutions for and with workers make us The National Home for Worker-Centered Innovation, the leader in updating our country’s systems and structures to be inclusive of all workers.



What Others Are Saying About The Innovation Fund:



What You Can Expect From The Innovation Fund


Community-based Learning

Better is possible when you have the right people by your side. You’ll join and contribute 12-15 hours per month to a community of entrepreneurs working together to address the most critical issues faced by workers.

Led by Experienced Coaches

Each of our coaches has firsthand experience building and scaling organizations and making a difference. They lead by example and help you unlock new possibilities for success.

Customized Support and Peer Feedback

Receive tailored technical support from our team to bring your ideas to life. Share your work, give and get feedback, and learn from peers on a similar journey.

Investments That Scale Your Impact

During your five-month fellowship, you will receive a monthly stipend. At the end,  Innovation Fund Winners will receive up to $200,000 for their ideas and a full year of mentorship and support

Expand Funding Opportunities

Even if you are not selected as a finalist, you will have the opportunity to get detailed feedback and access a larger network of investors as you advance in the process. Put yourself on the map today. 

Apply Now

The Solutions We Are Investing In For 2024

This year, we are offering fellowship opportunities to innovators working on one of these two main topics:

Asset 4@2x

Climate Justice
is Workers’ Justice

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

We’re interested in climate solutions that:

  • Promote quality work and support a green economy transition for workers.
  • Modernize systems and structures for workers on the frontlines of climate change.
  • Tackle the immediate needs of workers and their communities impacted by climate change.
  • Other worker-centered climate ideas not included in the breakdown above.



Asset 5@2x

Gen AI Solutions

Do you have ideas about harnessing the power of general artificial intelligence (Gen AI) to improve working conditions, opportunities, or create solutions for workers?

We’re interested in AI solutions that:

  • Empower workers.
  • Create equitable access to greater economic stability for workers.
  • Find work or job opportunities for workers.
  • Expand the ethical distribution and adoption of AI tools to workers.
  • Promote worker safety, health, security, and power.
  • Other worker-centered ideas leveraging AI not included in the breakdown above.

Who This Fellowship Is For

  • Individuals, teams, or organizations committed to worker-centered solutions.
  • Entrepreneurs, first-time or otherwise, who need a support system for their ideas.
  • Innovators from backgrounds traditionally underrepresented among those who receive main stream venture capital and startup funding, especially entrepreneurs of color and women.
  • Innovators with lived experience in the issue area they are addressing.
  • Innovators thinking about 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.
  • Innovators, especially those with early-stage ideas centered around making the ways our country serves workers more modern and inclusive.


Application Requirements

Applications must be submitted by Monday, July 15, 2024, at 11:59 PM PT.

A detailed project proposal outlining the innovation, its objectives, and expected outcomes, including:

  • An in-depth description about the idea and time-bound goals for implementation.
  • Information about the team or individual behind the project.
  • Specificity around how the project aligns with being worker-centered.
  • Clarity on pathways for developing and implementing the proposed solution.
  • A statement of impact on workers through Climate Justice or in leveraging Gen AI.

Applications will be meticulously reviewed by a panel of TWL staff, board members, experts in the field, and past winners.
Shortlisted candidates may be asked to provide additional details throughout the process.

Start Your Application Today


TWL IF Timeline

Frequently Asked Questions

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 and educational institutions
  • Unions and government-aligned entities
  • 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 winners 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 our fellowship is to uplift 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?
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 will be self-sustaining or that it will become 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, and submit a final financial report. The Workers Lab provides mentorship, training, and other forms of organizational support where we can add value.

Each year, we invest in new ideas.

Here are a few from past years:


Not ready to apply?

Sign up to receive email updates about the Innovation Fund.

Put me on the list!