Butterfly Lab For Immigrant Narrative Strategy

Race Forward’s Butterfly Lab was launched in 2020 to build power for effective narratives that honor the humanity of migrants, refugees, and immigrants, and advance freedom and justice for all. The Lab closed its wings and sunsetted in February 2023.

Our Report and Toolkit

Why The Lab?

Anti-immigrant forces have been winning the narrative battle. They have characterized migrants, immigrants, and refugees as exploitable, expendable, criminal, and unworthy of equal treatment. These narratives have fostered policies that terrorize migrants, immigrants, and refugees emotionally, economically, and physically. They protect a harmful status quo.

But we know a majority of Americans support immigrants. And we believe that by advancing narratives that connect Americans back to their core beliefs and values, we can compel them to act and confront attacks on migrants, refugees, and immigrants, support humane and transformative action, and join us in building an enduring pro-immigrant majority.

Our Work

The work within the Butterfly Lab consists of 2 Phases.

In Phase 1, we brought together a cohort of 16 immigrant narrative leaders who developed, tested, and scaled immigration narratives that met our political moment and advanced the vision for the world we want to build.

In Phase 2, we shared our learnings and provided training and webinars in narrative strategy and design. We built a community of thousands of narrative practitioners and convened movement leaders to carry on pro-immigrant narrative work into the future.

In June 2022, we launched the Chrysalis Lab, the Butterfly Lab’s grant program. Through the Chrysalis Lab, four grantees received $80,000 each to test pro-immigrant narratives at scale, supported by coaching and technical assistance.

In partnership with The Opportunity Agenda and Worthy Strategy Group, we commissioned research to uncover narrative opportunities to significantly expand public support and investment in a pro-immigrant future. We then created dozens of pieces of content and tested them using randomized control trials to understand which concepts, themes or storytelling approaches would successfully move audiences toward a pro-immigrant mindset.