Visually Telling the Story of Immigration and Innovation

Economic Innovation Group / 2023 / Human Rights, Politics & Government

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Graphicacy partnered with the Economic Innovation Group to marry data with creative storytelling to showcase the ways skilled immigration fuels American innovation and economic growth.

Background and Challenge:

Immigration remains a hot-button issue in American politics—and it needs clarity. Enter the Economic Innovation Group (EIG), a bipartisan public policy organization. EIG is committed to creating a more dynamic American economy, – a key ingredient of which is high-skilled immigration.

With their “Immigration Policy Is Innovation Policy” initiative, EIG highlights the impact of immigration using economic data and statistics. And the numbers don’t lie: Immigrants develop innovative technologies and scientific discoveries, create American jobs, and revitalize communities.

While EIG’s statistics were simple enough to understand, they wanted to broaden awareness and excite a diverse audience of users. A more compelling narrative could also help local thought leaders make the case for welcoming more skilled immigrants within their communities.

To achieve their goals, EIG turned to Graphicacy to produce engaging visual storytelling that brings the numbers to life and underscores how skilled immigration contributes to dynamism in the American economy.

Opportunity and Solution:

The Immigration Policy is Innovation Policy project makes the data-driven case for immigration in four sections: Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Revitalizing Communities, and A Bipartisan Way Forward. A full site menu, accessible at key junctures, allows users to jump to these topical chapters throughout the narrative thus facilitating a self-directed journey through the content.

The Entrepreneurship section might surprise even those who believe in immigration as a positive force. For example, 55% of American startups valued over $1 billion were founded by immigrants.

For this and other sections, Graphicacy turned those numbers into dynamic, animated visuals. Visitors are presented key takeaways through a lively mix of scroll-triggered charts, maps, and interwoven photographs and illustrative elements that humanize, and bring historical context to, the scrollytelling experience.

The EIG story then tells how immigrants foster American commercial and scientific innovation. As one of a series of “chapter” openers, Graphicacy conceived a fade-in image of a woman scientist looking through a microscope, with expanding bubbles revealing key numbers: immigrants make up only 14% of the U.S. population but 30% of all American inventors and 38% of all American chemistry, medicine, and physics Nobel Prize winners since 2000.

To help make the point that America’s success has always included immigrants, Graphicacy incorporated clever contextual storytelling cues by, for example, animating a historical image of Tesla’s revolutionary patent.

In their research, EIG found that Americans of all ideological backgrounds support skilled immigration. The EIG team had struggled to convert the data into a clear and compelling visual, however. How could they both contrast the numbers for Democrats, Republicans, and Independents and show unity across all three groups?

Graphicacy’s designers developed a waffle chart showing an overwhelming 71% of all American voters backing skilled immigration. As the user scrolls, three separate dynamic waffle charts appear, each filling up to show each political affiliation’s support. With one quick scroll, Graphicacy turned a complex statistic into digestible data nuggets—and an easily understandable representation of consensus.

A montage of illustrative and collaged visualizations created for the Economic Innovation Group's Immigration Policy is Innovation Policy, scrollytelling project.

"We needed captivating and impactful imagery, and Graphicacy delivered beyond our expectations." "They helped us develop a more human kind of story than many of our other data-oriented projects."

Milica Cosic, EIG’s Chief of Staff & Amelia Sandhovel, EIG's Senior Communications Associate

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