An incubator for labor

By Suzie Boss, writer, Edutopia

Could digital gaming be used to retrain fast-food workers for better-paying waiter jobs in fancy restaurants? Could an Uber-like “sharing economy” app help freelance workers boost their income?

Today’s napkin sketches might well become tomorrow’s solutions to the challenges faced by the American working class. That’s the hope behind the Workers Lab, a first-of-its-kind incubator launched this past October with $1 million in start-up funding from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). “We’re looking for audacious ideas about how to rebuild the middle class,” says Carmen Rojas, CEO of the Workers Lab. Winning applicants will receive $150,000 over a nine-month period to develop and pilot their ideas. They’ll also get access to mentors and introductions to investors who might provide next-round financing. The first cohort of winners — to be announced early this year—will include up to five projects.

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