Social entrepreneurs, co-ops and other organizations often struggle to secure funding. Traditional startup funds often favor ideas that can be sold for a profit, and grants may be limited to nonprofits or academics.
Even with COVID-19 causing global economic fear, there are places giving money away. There is still money available - now - to encourage innovators to try new ideas.
That’s why The Workers Lab created The Innovation Fund. We support ideas with the potential to transform the lives of workers - regardless of their stage of development. We want to see these ideas succeed and flourish and we welcome innovations that are early stage, poised to scale, or somewhere in between.
The Innovation Fund award recipients receive $150,000 and 12 months to test their solution and its potential for growth. Our goal is to build worker power and create an economy that works for everyone.
Fund Your Idea to Build Support For Workers
We believe workers should play an outsized role in transforming the systems and institutions that shape their lives. Unfortunately, many workers don’t have the time or resources to take action because they’re trying so hard to make ends meet.
COVID-19 has exposed how critical just-in-time support can be, but it has also exposed the importance of having a vision for how those supports can become the norm and last beyond this moment of national crisis.
At The Workers Lab, we envision a world where workers drive society, the economy, and our democracy. We’re committed to making this vision real, but we need your help to do it.
For the Spring 2020 cycle of The Innovation Fund, we encourage applicants to submit solutions that help workers build stability in their lives and create space for them to lead and drive change. Below are a few challenge areas to consider.
- Transportation or transit access to work
- Physical or mental health and well-being
- Communication between workers on a single worksite or across sites
- Protection against wage theft and exploitative conditions
- Streamlined access to safety net supports and protections in the case of hardship or retirement
- Access to training, education, and transition services
- Work stability and quality
Today more than ever, we must listen to workers’ most urgent concerns and find practical ways to alleviate their burdens and remove barriers that keep them from being powerful. Through The Innovation Fund, we work to accomplish these goals. If you, or your organization, has an idea with the potential to support workers, read on. The Innovation Fund might just be the grant program for you.
Now Accepting Grant Applications for Spring 2020
Unlike other social enterprise grants, anyone can apply for The Innovation Fund. We welcome new ideas from co-operatives, nonprofits, individuals, public and private organizations.
That said, we highly value solutions from social entrepreneurs with a direct connection to workers. In our experience, social impact funding is most effective when workers participate in the design process. Every project we fund is an experiment, so we choose innovations with the greatest likelihood of success. Download our application tips PDF.
If you have an idea that could change the lives of workers, we want to hear from you. Apply now for The Innovation Fund. With your ideas and our support, we can create a better society.
Spring 2020 Application Dates and Deadlines
In light of the COVID-19 global emergency, we have pushed out our timelines for the Spring 2020 funding cycle. The application period is now open until Wednesday, April 22nd at 11:59 pm PDT. The application deadline is final, and we do not offer extensions. The system will automatically prevent submissions after the application period closes.
Previous applicants are welcome to apply, however, Fall 2019 winners of The Innovation Fund are ineligible.
Semi-finalists will be notified Monday, May 4th. Please note: if you are selected as a semi-finalist, additional documentation will be requested including:
- Project financials
- A logo (if available)
- A headshot
- Other support materials TBD
Finalists will be announced Thursday, May 28th. Our finalist showcase will take place, virtually, from June 8 - 17th. Applicants should block out these dates as finalists are required to participate. Winners will be announced by the end of June 2020.
About The Workers Lab Innovation Fund
Since its inception, The Workers Lab has invested more than $2,235,000 in 38 bold, new ideas through our signature program, The Innovation Fund. Each cycle, we invite entrepreneurs, nonprofits, and public and private sector leaders to submit innovative ideas to improve worker power.