Changing Worlds began in 1996 at Hibbard Elementary School, a Chicago Public School located in the diverse, predominately immigrant Albany Park neighborhood. Driven by a vision to build bridges across cultures through story and the arts, its founder, Kay Berkson, partnered with the school’s staff and parents to create an oral history and photography exhibit.
Now occupying three corridors of the school, the exhibit highlights fifteen family stories along with photographs, art work and maps. These captivating stories told by students, their parents and grandparents are translated into twelve different languages. They vividly describe diverse journeys to Albany Park from all over the world.
The project led to the development of an activity guide with ongoing family programs and classroom curricula that foster an inclusive school community. In 1999, a traveling version of the exhibit was created to share these family stories with other communities, giving a face to those too often seen through the filters of stereotypes. Building upon the enthusiasm and success at Hibbard, the Changing Worlds project became an independent 501(c)3 nonprofit organization in 2000.
In 2011, the Shanti Foundation for Peace became a part of Changing Worlds. The Shanti Foundation for Peace adds over 15 years of experience implementing arts-based peace and non-violence programs in Evanston and Chicago. As a result of the merger, Changing Worlds expanded its programs, geographic reach and enhanced its core values to include peace building and non-violence methodologies.