Ten years ago, The Workers Lab started as an idea born out of labor organizations, foundations, and individuals in Seattle as an innovation arm that would invest in new ideas for and with workers, opening the door for opportunities to make all workers safe, healthy, and secure. In 2018, The Workers Lab was incorporated as its own entity, continued to scale its Innovation Fund's impact, and began its first Design Sprint for Social Change.
This year and for the years to come, we’re excited to continue to lean into our strength as the national home for worker-centered innovation to realize a nation where the systems and structures that serve all workers are modern and inclusive. To achieve our purpose for and with workers, additional capacity building is needed to scale our innovations with technology, research, evaluation, and learning.
We’re excited to announce that as part of building our technology expertise and capacity to accelerate innovation, The Workers Lab has acquired WorkIt Labs led by Catherine Huang.
WorkIt was conceptualized in 2016 and incubated at United for Respect to explore the application and development of digital tools to expand organizing capacity and support retail workers in a new, more modern way. Their inaugural AI chatbot, WorkIt, was born from a need for organizers to scale the distribution of accurate workplace information and for workers to access their rights at work anywhere, anytime, and get direct workplace support from a cadre of trusted peers.
With early successes in the rapid adoption of and impact of their technology with leaders, organizers, and retail workers, WorkIt has grown to support close to 1 million people working across multiple low-wage sectors through their technology products. Over the last seven years, they have co-built a set of tools that have helped people working in low-wage industries access a more stable, attainable, and equitable economic reality with a network of workers, organizers, and labor organizations.
The addition of a robust tech arm within The Workers Lab will:
- Increase our capacity to conduct more robust due diligence of technological tools before investment.
- Strengthen the suite of technical assistance and support that entrepreneurs will receive through our Innovation Fund Fellowship.
- Expand our ability to develop and scale tech solutions for and with workers through our Design Sprints.
- Lead new efforts around investing in and leveraging emerging technologies, especially generative artificial intelligence (Gen AI), in fully worker-led and worker-informed ways.
We’re firmly committed to our vision for a country where all workers are safe, healthy, secure, and have power. As we continue to grow the depth and breadth of our impact we’re also looking toward expanding our capabilities around research, evaluation, and learning. Stay tuned this year for these and other exciting updates from The Workers Lab - the National Home for Worker-Centered Innovation.