Timeline & Judging

We’re calling on innovators, educators, policymakers, and employers to share ideas to significantly increase wages as part of the $1 Billion Wage Gain Challenge. The goal is to raise the annual wages of 100,000 low- or middle-income US workers by $10,000 by 2021.


  • September 24, 2018: Application opens
  • January 13, 2019: Application closes
  • February 2019: Select finalists
  • 2019: Pitch event and national recognition

JFFLabs will accept submissions from September 24 at 12:00 a.m. ET to January 13 at 11:59 p.m. ET. We encourage applicants to share their ideas with others before making their final submissions to solicit potential partnerships and resources, as appropriate, and gather feedback. The platform allows applicants to submit attachments, which applicants should use to build the body of evidence for why their idea will work to increase wages.

Each submission will be judged by a diverse panel of reviewers. From this process, up to 10 finalists will be selected to receive “catalyst coaching” in early 2019.  Winners will be selected at the final event and will receive special recognition.

Who are the reviewers and judges?

Since we are seeking a wide variety of ideas and applicants, we have assembled a prominent, diverse set of reviewers and judges. They come from different regions and fields of expertise, including workforce development, funding and investor communities, academia and research, social innovation, technology, and beyond. In general, we have focused on balancing the reviewers and judges across three types: philanthropic funders, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs, and subject matter experts and thought leaders.

How will ideas be judged?

The reviewers and final event judges will review submissions using the following categories as a frame:

  1. Impact: Is this a big enough idea to achieve the goal? Does the proposed idea demonstrate a high likelihood of raising the wages of 100,000 US low- and/ or middle-income workers by $10,000 each, for a total of $1 billion in wage gains by the end of 2021?
  2. Feasibility: Has the team developed this idea fully enough to know whether or not it's possible? Does this idea have all the necessary ingredients to make it work; for example, a solid business plan, the right team, the right partners, a progress and success measurement plan, etc.?
  3. Innovation: Is this idea a novel or creative approach to achieving wage gains for significant numbers of low- and/ or middle-income workers?
  4. Equity and inclusion: Does this idea result in inclusive wage gains across diverse worker populations? Was this idea informed by actual workers in the target populations?
  5. Sustainability: Will wage gains be sustained? Does this idea seem likely to be an enduring solution that lasts beyond the time period of this Challenge, i.e., beyond 2021?

How many winners will be selected?

Judges will select up to 10 finalists in early 2019.  Later, JFFLabs will host a final pitch event with funders and investors to select winners.

Does each idea submitted have to propose how it will achieve the total 100,000 workers and $1 billion in wage gains?

Yes, each idea submitted should propose how it will achieve the goal totals of 100,000 workers and $1 billion in wage gains for low- and middle-income workers. Single big ideas may be submitted or coalitions of organizations may come together around a set of ideas that add up to the 100,000 workers and $1 billion in wage gains.