The Butterfly Lab for Immigrant Narrative Strategy

Funded by Unbound Philanthropy,  Luminate, Oak Foundation, and Open Society Foundations, the Butterfly Lab for Immigrant Strategy is a two-year project to advance pro-immigrant narratives that recognize and honor the humanity of immigrants, and advance freedom and justice for all.

“Although pro-immigration policies have been under fire in recent years, we know that the majority of Americans are pro-immigrant. Changing the narrative is the key to winning,” said Glenn Harris, President of Race Forward.

“At a time of unprecedented readiness for radical change, every word we say, and every story we tell, matters,” said Taryn Higashi, Executive Director, and Adey Fisseha, Senior U.S. Program Officer, of Unbound Philanthropy. “Our words and our narratives can move us forward towards a pluralist society where everyone belongs, or backwards. We are thrilled to support this dynamic, superbly talented group to move us all forward. We are also delighted to partner with the brilliant team at Race Forward to nurture this cohort.”

 Beginning in June 2020, the Lab will bring together a select cohort of 16 leaders working in immigrant narrative to learn and discuss cutting edge narrative strategy and research. The leaders in the cohort are drawn from work in advocacy, the law, organizing, policy, human rights, the arts, and popular culture. 

“This cohort is incredibly diverse – from a Brooklyn-based artist from Trinidad and Tobago to a Maya Mam advocate and former political refugee from the West Highlands of Guatemala, or from a Syrian-American rapper and spoken word artist in Los Angeles to a labor organizer based in the Gulf Coast,” said Ivy Suriyopas, program officer at the Open Society Foundations.  I am excited to see how their richly varied perspectives will come together to advance a narrative that promotes a more inclusive multiracial democracy.”

Butterfly Lab cohort members will develop, test and scale immigration narratives to meet our current political moment by advancing our vision for the world we want to build. “Anti-immigrant narratives in the US have become normalized and even mainstream over the last few years,” said Alissa Black, Director, Luminate. “Luminate is glad to support the Butterfly Lab because its aim to advance accurate narratives about immigrants will better reflect the America we want to live in and will promote everyone’s inherent worth.” 

Tim Parritt, program officer for the Oak Foundation, said, “The co-crafting of culturally resonant narratives by activist leaders immersed in their immigrant communities is critical – they offer the bridge between high theory and practical implementation and are key to fulfilling a vision of a deeply connected and powerful strategic communications field infrastructure.

Cohort individuals will receive a $10,000 stipend and $10,000 for design and implementation of innovative narrative prototype projects. Cohort convenings, webinars, trainings, and strategy sessions will be all-expenses paid. In addition, the cohort prototype projects will be supported with research and impact evaluation. In year 2, a number of the projects will be selected to scale up, and the cohort’s learnings will be broadly disseminated to build capacity, skills, and knowledge within the pro-immigrant movement.

For more information, please visit Race Forward’s Butterfly Lab page.