Announcing Our 2021 Innovation Fund Winners!

by Adrian Haro, on November 18, 2021 at 7:22 AM

The Workers Lab is thrilled to announce the six winners of the 2021 Innovation Fund. To help their ideas succeed and flourish, each winner will receive $150,000, have the opportunity to learn from one another, in addition to receiving mentorship, training, and organizational support. 

The winners were selected from a diverse pool of nearly 400 applicants from across the country with ideas at all stages of development and from all types of organizations. A majority of this year’s applications were from organizations led by people of color, and all were led by or fully informed by workers themselves. We want to thank everyone who applied and congratulate this year’s winners for their dedication to centering workers in their innovations. 

Our 2021 Innovation Fund winners include Los Deliveristas Unidos, Let’s Get Set, Reclamo, the Sex Worker Liberation Project, Solidarity Tech, and United for Respect Education Fund's WorkIt Platform.

Los Deliveristas Unidos, is a rapidly expanding collective of app-based food delivery workers in New York that grew out of the organizing efforts of Worker's Justice Project. WJP and LDU 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. Today’s app- and gig-based economy requires new legal, regulatory, policy, and organizing frameworks, and LDU is empowering workers to lead these conversations. In fact, LDU is writing the new rules themselves, fighting to achieve justice on their own terms. Since organizing a march of 3,000 deliveristas in April 2021 from Times Square to Foley Square, LDU has partnered with New York City councilmembers to introduce six bills that improve working conditions and pay equity for deliveristas setting a national example. LDU’s focus is to help these workers gain protections and rights that bring their work within the laws and norms of regular employment.

With support from the Innovation Fund, we are working to create a first-in-the-country infrastructure hub for delivery workers that offers them help with all aspects of their work, including improvements to worker policies, the creation of a hub for them to connect, and the development of a community that can demand a safety net that fights against the abuses these workers experience.” -- Ligia Guallpa

Let's Get Set guides working mothers on paths to financial security and wealth creation with mobile tools tailored to meet their unique financial needs. By building a company that centers the needs of this underserved demographic, Let’s Get Set aims to shift power to them and put pressure on the financial system to better serve working mothers making less than $40,000. The app helps working moms secure and deploy the $8,500 in federal tax credits they are at risk of missing this year through end-to-end tax-time support, including matching with free tax preparation. The app also helps workers identify savings goals, matches them to a savings partner where they can open a fee-free account, and use their tax credits to start saving. Let’s Get Set’s vision is to build a financial platform that offers tailored resources, products, and support for households making less than $40,000 to guide them on pathways to financial stability.

“We’re building a different type of fintech company, one that centers workers’ voices and builds solutions for their unique needs. This grant is essential to solidifying our business model and helping us meet our goal of improving the financial security of the 90 million people making $40,000 or less in our country.” -- Clare Herceg

¡Reclamo! is a tool from the Immigration Advocates Network designed to help workers and organizers easily identify and tackle wage theft by automating the data collection process and facilitating access to legal support. This innovation builds worker power by allowing workers to independently identify their risk of wage theft, initiate the wage recovery process, identify opportunities for organizing, and use data to take on large claims and/or patterns among employers throughout New York state and beyond. Reclamo was developed in partnership with workplace justice advocates from Make the Road New York and is designed to help workers and non-lawyer advocates navigate the complexities of employment law, safely, in plain language, and from any mobile phone.

“As the first nonprofit wage claim filing tool designed for and by workplace justice advocates, our goal is to significantly reduce the prevalence of wage theft in America and use the power of data and organizing to design fairer workplaces. Support from the Innovation Fund will enable us to add and train additional partners and launch a statewide campaign targeting the high-violation construction industry in New York.” -- Rodrigo Camarena

Sex Worker Liberation Project, being led by Black & Pink National, aims to provide for the safety and health needs of Black and Brown LGBTQIA2S+ sex workers nationwide, with a specific focus in the South, through their Sex Worker Liberation Toolkit, access to bail support, business development, and affirming health care. The Sex Worker Liberation Toolkit will include safety resources that will be shared with sex workers nationwide. Their strategic planning and business development supports sex workers in developing business models that foster their autonomy over their labor. The project also aims to inform health care providers of best practices and connect sex workers with providers who offer compassionate, competent, affirming care. The Sex Worker Liberation Project will expand safety and protections for Black and Brown trans and queer sex workers nationwide, and is proud to center the voices, leadership, and experiences of the people who will be served through this project.

"Black & Pink National is excited to be positioned in solidarity with incredible change makers as we activate our Sex Worker Liberation Project. Over the next year, with the support of the Innovation Fund, we will be able to amplify our work and continue to provide foundational needs to our sex-worker members, connect them to critical and affirming resources, and ultimately listen to them about the challenges they face and the support they need so we can continute to grow and scale our work. As a Black Trans Woman - this investment in a vision I've been able to build with my team, means so much. We are excited for 2022!" -- Dominique Morgan

Solidarity Tech is an affordable, all-in-one, deep organizing platform for unions and progressive organizations. There are three parts to Solidarity Tech’s infrastructure: traditional member-facing communications, an organizer app, and an administrative dashboard coupled with a contact relationship management (CRM) system that enables them to organize and connect to their networks faster and more efficiently. Solidarity Tech’s focus is on helping organizers build deep relationships with members and develop member participation and leadership. Ultimately, Solidarity Tech hopes to help organizations build strong, connected virtual communities that are poised and ready to act when called on.

“Support from the Innovation Fund is the first step in our next stage to support our product launch and put affordable high-performance labor organizing software into the hands of thousands of organizers and workers.” -- Solidarity Tech

United for Respect Education Fund's WorkIt Platform is a multiracial national nonprofit organization fighting for big and bold policy change that improves the lives of people who work in retail. The group 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. The technology will surface insights about community members - who is engaging, how they are engaging, who they are engaging with, what actions have they taken, and what additional leadership activities they might want. These user insight tools will allow organizers to connect with users much more effectively, efficiently, and with far less manual oversight and management.

“This grant will empower us to keep pace with the scale of our digital outreach. Our focus will be on identifying and addressing the emerging and real-time challenges workers are facing because we know that with the right approach, the right tools, and the right insight, we can change how people participate in our society, economy and our democracy.” -- Catherine Huang, United for Respect

To support amazing innovations like these, please click here to donate to The Workers Lab.

Topics: The Innovation Fund| Learning Hub