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Alpha Workshops

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Arts Services, Education, Federated Giving Programs, Job Training, Philanthropy, Vocational & Technical Schools, Vocational Rehabilitation

Mission: (1) To draw on the powerful healing potential of useful work and creative self-expression.(2) To provide training and employment in a flexible, compassionate workplace where the special needs of its employees can be met.(3) To compete in the marketplace successfully at the highest level of craftsmanship and artistry.(4) To provide a new model of economic development for people living with HIV/AIDS or other disabilities.

Results: To date, Alpha has enrolled 283 HIV-positive individuals into Basic Training. 226 have completed the course (80%). Since our six-month Advanced Training Program was introduced in 2003, 60% of Basic Training graduates have enrolled with 77% graduating. Alpha has employed a total of 97 HIV-positive staff artists in our 14 years. In the last year our Outplacement Program has assisted 40% of graduates in finding employment and 25% in enrolling in further education. Our largest job, the restoration of the ballroom at Manhattan’s Prince George Hotel, was completed in spring 2005 after nine months of work and was awarded a 2006 New York Landmarks Conservancy Preservation Project Award. We also worked on the renovation of historic Gracie Mansion in 2002. Other examples of our large-scale restoration and painting work can be seen at various public spaces and private residences in the city including the corporate offices of Benjamin Moore & Co., Lifetime Television and WebMD.

Direct beneficiaries per year: 50

Geographic areas served: New York City

Programs: Alpha's unique approach to education and employment gives people living with a chronic illness a pathway to increased independence by providing a practical education and teaching marketable skills in a supportive environment designed to meet the unique medical, emotional, and socioeconomic needs of our trainees.The Basic Training Program is the foundation of our efforts, the vital first training step for applicants. Offered quarterly, the ten-week training provides 40 students a year with an overview in the most marketable techniques of decorative painting. Traditionally at least 50% of graduates progress to our 26-week Advanced Training Program where they become apprentices and have the opportunity to fine-tune their technical skills while gradually becoming reacquainted with a professional working environment through on-the-job training. To date, 90% of graduating advanced apprentices have become permanent employees in our non-profit design studio, reassured that our Supportive Employment Initiative provides them with the flexible scheduling, and paid sick time they need to manage their illness in a work environment. We offer permanent job security and, as necessary, alter job duties to accommodate physical limitations, including providing work that people can perform sitting down or from home.Our new Outplacement Initiative will help place graduates in jobs at other employers within the design industry. This will allow us to continue accepting increased numbers of trainees while ensuring that they have a broad range of opportunities and options available to them upon graduation.

Community Stories

3 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters


Client Served

Rating: 5

Alpha has been an incredible experience for me... When I started the Introduction to Decorative Arts class I had been out of the workforce for years and didn't know how I was going to my way back. It's 1.5 years later and I'm not only employed in the decorative arts field but count several of my classmates as dear friends. Changed my life!

1 Hung

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I would like to give big thanks and many praises to Alpha Workshops, especially the administration and education staffs for giving me a wonderful education and a great sense of purpose in life. Since I was diagnosed with HIV, I was hospitalized twice for suicidal attempts because I didn't see any point of go on living. The administration staff at Alpha Workshops was exceptionally helpful when it came to getting me enroll into the program despite my history. Even when I was giving up an applying due to personal perplex conflict with NYS inquiries, Alpha staff wasn't. I am still grateful for the day I got a call from Alpha Workshops informing that I was sponsored by a scholarship and can immediately start my training the following week. Once started, I've been enjoying all lessons and helps received from the friendly trainers. Henceforth I truly appreciated what Alpha Workshop does and the generous donations made to Alpha Workshops. Both has been making great impact and wonderful in my life. Thank you very much.

Board Member

Rating: 1

As a former board member at The Alpha Workshops I felt a great responsibility to the segment of society we were supposed to be supporting. Negative reports filed by individuals, design professionals, and New York state fund contributors have been a thorn in the side of this ambitious entity. The legality of some of its financial undertakings are questionable and several personnel abuses inflicted on vulnerable staffers make this an unfortunate situation for all those concerned. More information may be obtained via NYS inquiries.