Congratulations to the 2023 Innovation Fund Fellows (Part 1)

by Jeshua John, on December 5, 2023 at 8:29 AM

As we prepare to announce this year’s Innovation Fund winners, we want to remind you about this talented pool of fellows.

The Workers Lab is excited to be closing out this year’s Innovation Fund, after a successful four-month fellowship, where we convened six unique innovators who are focused on making our country’s services for workers more modern and inclusive. We started this year’s Innovation Fund back in December 2022, when we invited innovators to submit ideas that could help modernize our country’s worker services while also making them more inclusive. 

We specifically sought ideas from entrepreneurs of color and women who typically receive only a tiny fraction, less than 2 percent, of early investment enjoyed by other entrepreneurs. In total, we received 415 applications from 10 countries, 47 U.S. states, and the District of Columbia. After 12 weeks of intensive review, where applications were read up to five times by different reviewers, we narrowed the pool of applicants down to six fellows, who are now completing the fellowship. You can read more about what they’ve been learning here. Before we announce this year’s winners, we want to remind you about this talented pool of fellows.

We’d like you to meet Just Decisions, Omniscale, and Trunk of My Car Cooperative. Up next, we will share more details about Care Forest, NurseBridge, and Starlight.

Just Decisions is a Black-woman-led platform that organizes ready-to-work talent with previous conviction histories and matches them with employers needing qualified talent. As part of their participation in the fellowship, Just Decisions has gained new perspectives on the future of work, including what it might look like and what the next generation of workers want beyond a fair wage from their working environment. In the coming 18 months, the organization plans to place 250 workers with conviction records in jobs paying a livable, sustainable wage that leads to a career track. Just Decisions seeks 25 corporate partners interested in unlocking a new source of pre-vetted and ready-for-work talent to help them grow their businesses. 

Omniscale is an Asian and Latino-led business that helps underrepresented ecommerce entrepreneurs expand into new revenue channels (wholesale, retail, business-to-business), increase overall profitability, and reduce their reliance on paid marketing. Through the fellowship, Omniscale has launched its first product that helps ecommerce entrepreneurs (who are majority women) expand their businesses across multiple channels beyond their websites. The company's future plans include supporting hundreds of entrepreneurs in their journey beyond direct-to-consumer, with a commitment to reinvesting earnings into further product development focused on comprehensive multichannel expansion.

Trunk of My Car Cooperative is a Black-woman-led cooperative that aims to transform the self-publishing industry into a community-focused model rooted in equitable resource distribution among authors, editors, cover art designers, and small presses, in addition to the readers and workers who support them. The Workers Lab fellowship has helped Trunk of My Car Cooperative move toward launching its self-publishing platform, currently scheduled for February 2024. As part of the program, its founder learned the power of storytelling to pitch the platform and garnered support and hope from fellow participants who are navigating similar challenges.

We’ll follow up with profiles of our three other fellows. In the meantime, we invite you to learn more these amazing organizations and their worker-centered innovations by following the links above to their websites. 

To support our work and the ability to find and resource these amazing innovations, please click here to make a tax-deductible donation to The Workers Lab.

Topics: Learning Hub