Emerson Collective Immigration Innovation Incubator FAQ
Posted September 2017
Applications for our inaugural Incubator cohort launching September 2018 are now closed. Selected Innovators will be notified this December. Stay tuned!
What is the Incubator?
The Emerson Collective Immigration Innovation Incubator is a new initiative that offers individuals financial, organizational, and professional development support over two years to develop early-stage ideas. By employing technology or other innovation, these ideas will expand protections and access to achieve change for the undocumented and/or low-income immigrant community in the U.S. You propose and work on the project; we provide the support!
We are looking for individuals or small groups who are reimagining solutions to benefit undocumented and/or low-income immigrant communities in the U.S. The proposed project should employ innovation – whether technological, logistical, strategic, or otherwise – that diverges from status quo programs to benefit these immigrant communities. Proposed projects could focus on service delivery, public policy advocacy, litigation, research, or communications.
Projects that benefit a larger population than undocumented and/or low-income immigrants will not be considered. For this Incubator cohort, Emerson Collective has no restrictions or priorities on program focus or geography within the U.S., or subset of the undocumented and/or low-income immigrant population.
Why should I become an Emerson Innovator?
2018 Emerson Innovators will be a part of the inaugural cohort. The Incubator offers you the flexibility to receive support for up to two years turning your great idea into a working program. We provide each innovator with $80,000 a year for two years and a $7,000 stipend for health care benefits. During the two years, we will offer individual project guidance and support, mentors, capacity-building training, and access to a range of experts from our networks to help you implement your idea.
What is expected of an Emerson Innovator?
Innovators will commit to developing their idea over two years. Emerson Collective will support Innovators who are prepared to join the inaugural cohort in September 2018.
The Innovator cohort will have the opportunity to meet regularly both by phone and in person. Emerson Collective will support travel costs to participate in cohort activities.
Innovators will be provided with access to mentors beneficial to their project, who they can remain in contact with over the two years.
How do I apply?
The Application Portal will go live and begin accepting submissions on September 25, 2017. The application questions are also available for download as a PDF, allowing applicants to adequately prepare for submission.
The application portal requires creation of a password-protected user log-in. This will allow you to develop, revise, and save your application over separate sessions. Your final application will only be submitted when you are ready and press “Submit." Instructions for submitting an application are clearly noted.
Applicants are expected to be fully committed to their idea and therefore may only submit one proposal.
When is the application deadline?
The application deadline is October 20, 2017 at 11:59 pm PST.
What is the selection process?
The selection process will include an evaluation of the application and in-person interviews conducted by members of our selection committee throughout November 2017. The committee is comprised of a variety of experts in the fields of immigration, advocacy, and technology. For more information about what we’re looking for, see our case studies section. We will announce our first cohort of Emerson Innovators in December 2017.
How many projects will be selected for incubation?
We anticipate choosing at least three ideas for incubation.
What are the basic eligibility requirements?
Individual applicants and all members of a group applying must be 18 years of age to apply. As stated above, each individual or group applicant must be able to commit to this endeavor for the entire two-year duration of the Incubator. Emerson Collective will not be the employer of the Innovators. Rather, the Innovators will be social entrepreneurs whose projects will receive financial support as seed funding. Therefore, immigration status is not relevant to eligibility. In order to access Emerson Collective’s supports, all Innovators must be living in the U.S. for the duration of their project.
Do I have to be an immigration expert to apply?
No. We will evaluate ideas based on your demonstrated knowledge of the needs of targeted immigrant communities and the best strategies to address those needs. That information may come from personal experience, building core connections and/or partnerships with immigration experts, conducting research in immigrant communities, or other methods that foster true understanding of those benefitting from your project.
Below, we also describe an opportunity for Emerson Collective to match you with other interested parties with complementary assets so you can apply as a team.
Do I need a team to apply?
No. You do not need a team to apply—you may apply individually or as part of a team. Teams are limited to three applicants. If you are applying as part of a team, you must fill out basic individual information for each team member as part of the application. Only one application should be submitted per team. Note that all team members must meet individual eligibility requirements. Each member of a team will receive the same financial and project support as an individual.
Can I apply if I'm a student?
Yes. You may apply if you are still studying; however, you must be able to commit on a full-time basis to the development of the project starting in September of 2018. We encourage students who are graduating in Winter 2017, Spring 2018, and Summer 2018 to apply.
Is this a post-graduate Incubator? Must I currently be a student to apply?
No. While we anticipate that this opportunity may appeal to upcoming and recent graduates, you may be well into your career or between careers with a new idea to propose.
What is the timeline for the Incubator?
All applicants must be able to fully commit to the development of their project as part of the Incubator cohort beginning in September 2018. Emerson Collective will begin programming for the cohort in September 2018. However, Emerson Collective will on a case-by-case basis consider start dates beginning no earlier than April 2018 for individual Innovators selected to the cohort.
Can I/we apply with a project if I currently work for an organization that is already funded by Emerson Collective (EC)?
Maybe. If your project idea is separate and will not be housed at an organization currently receiving EC funding, you may apply for the Incubator. If your project idea would likely be housed at your current employer, you should consult with your organization’s EC point of contact about your innovative new idea to benefit immigrants.
Can I apply if I intend for my project to be housed within an existing organization?
Maybe. You may apply to the incubator if the project will be housed at an existing organization only if the individual applying has complete authority over the work and sustainability of the project. This means that the individual receiving support from the Incubator will have complete discretion over the project, its development, direction and sustainability. If you are an organization receiving funding from Emerson Collective, see previous question.
If my idea is not early-stage or I would not retain complete authority over my project, can I still seek funding from Emerson Collective?
Maybe. Please submit a maximum two-page description of your project to Incubator@emersoncollective.com. Because of the anticipated volume, we will not be able to respond individually to each submission. For projects that align with the strategic priorities of the Emerson Collective immigration portfolio, someone from our team may respond to seek further information.
Must my proposed idea be supported by an existing organization, and if so, what are the requirements for the organization?
No. An applicant need not have a formal nonprofit or for profit structure yet. If an organization is already incorporated, the organization may be a 501(c)(3), (c)(4), or for-profit entity.
Does this project have to be a new project or can it be already in progress?
The project must be a new project or in a startup phase. You are free to self-assess whether your project would be considered startup. Remember that you are applying to be a part of a cohort that will receive supports designed for startup organizations. We do not ask for a budget in the application because many projects are still in the idea phase without a budget.
Are there geographical parameters to the project I propose?
Applicants must reside and execute their projects from within the U.S. during the two-year participation in the Incubator. Beyond that, we have no geographic priorities or limitations.
What will happen to my work after the two-year Incubator period?
Over the two years, EC will offer support to help you think about the sustainability and future of your project with the goal of making the project independent and operational by the end of the two years. We are committed to supporting Innovators throughout the two years and providing access to the tools needed to help sustain your great idea to and through the implementation stage. Innovators are welcome to seek additional financial support from other entities during the Incubator period.
Innovators are also welcome to use the $80,000 at their discretion. Though the $80,000 is intended to provide financial support to Innovators while they dedicate themselves full time to project development, if they have additional financial supports, an Innovator may apply some of the $80,000 to other project costs.
What will I be responsible for delivering at the end of the two years?
At the beginning of the two years, you will define goals and metrics that help guide your project and deliverables. Mentors and EC Incubator staff will offer support to help you reach these goals. You may be expected to present on your progress to the Incubator staff and broader EC team.
Who will I be working with?
You will have the opportunity to leverage the EC Incubator staff team during the entire term. They will provide individual project guidance and connect you with mentors appropriate to your project. In effort to provide Innovators with ongoing support and networks, all 2018 Innovators will be a part of a cohort, providing support and insight to each other.