2021 Innovation Fund Applications Are Now Being Accepted!

by Jeshua John, on June 1, 2021 at 7:25 AM

The Workers Lab is now accepting applications for the 2021 Innovation Fund! We’re seeking innovators with new ideas about how to transform systems and structures to make all workers safe, healthy, secure, and free. All submissions are due by 11:59 PM PT on July 12, 2021. 

Do you have an innovative way to solve problems facing workers? Do you have a new approach to an existing idea? Do you have an idea that helps workers in new geographies, underrepresented industries, or demographics that have been historically excluded? Do you get excited about testing your ideas, sharing them with others, and trying to get them off the ground?

  • If you answered "yes" to any of these questions: You’re an innovator. 
  • If you know someone who would answer "yes" to these questions: You're a connector. And, we need your help sharing this information with them.

Here’s What You Need to Know About The 2021 Innovation Fund

As champions of new ideas for workers, The Workers Lab understands that bringing creative, transformative ideas to fruition requires investment. In other fields, financial resources might come from private equity or venture capital. Those investments aren’t typically available for ideas that are designed to solve problems facing workers. The Workers Lab is changing that. The innovations we invest in address immediate and structural problems that exist because our systems and structures are outdated and weren’t created with all workers in mind.

Since 2014, the Innovation Fund has invested over $5 million in 78 innovators. This year, we will award grants of up to $150,000. In addition to the funding designed to give these new ideas a chance to succeed, awardees will receive mentorship, training, and organizational support where The Workers Lab can add value. 

Applications will be accepted between June 1 and July 12 and recipients will be announced in the fall. Nearly every type of organization or entity is eligible to apply — from nonprofits and for-profits to public sector entities and co-ops. 

Do You Have a New Idea? Here’s How To Get Started.

Step 1: Review the FAQs and application guide

After several cycles of the Innovation Fund, we’re familiar with the questions you might have. We recommend you start with a review of the frequently asked questions (linked here, in the additional resources section under FAQs) and the application guide (linked here).

Step 2: Attend a webinar

We will host two webinars (6/10 and 6/22) for interested applicants. You only need to attend one. If you are unable to attend either one, register anyway and we’ll send you a recording afterward to watch on-demand.

  • Register here for session 1: Thursday, June 10, 12:00-1:00 PM PT / 3:00-4:00 PM ET
  • Register here for session 2: Tuesday, June 22, 10:00-11:00 AM PT / 1:00-2:00 PM ET

Step 3: Visit us during office hours

We will hold weekly office hours, every Friday between June 4 - July 12. These are one-on-one sessions designed to answer questions specific to your organization and project you plan to submit. Please be sure to go through steps one and two before joining your session so that we can focus on the most important open questions. Sessions are limited to one per organization.

  • Register here for a 15-minute session.

Step 4: Apply to the Innovation Fund

Visit the Innovation Fund page to apply through our Award Force platform. You will need to set up an account with Award Force to get started if you don’t already have one. Don’t forget to save your application as you go, so that you can return to your draft at any time before the due date. All submissions are due by 11:59 PM PT on July 12, 2021. 

  • You can also start your application here

About The Workers Lab

The Workers Lab envisions a society where all workers are safe, healthy, secure, and free. Our purpose is to give new ideas for workers a chance to succeed and flourish. We carry out this purpose via three core strategies: 

We invest in new ideas for workers in two ways: 

  • We invest in new ideas others (i.e., innovators) are working on through our Innovation Fund.
  • We invest in new ideas no one else is working on through our Design Sprints.

We learn about how that new idea either fixes, updates, introduces, or transforms systems and structures that make and keeps all workers safe, healthy, secure, or free. This information is available through our Learning Hub. 

We inform leaders who are making decisions that impact work and workers. 

Topics: The Innovation Fund