Philanthropy | For Goodness’ Sake

A nonprofit scheme teaches vital new skills

For its HIV-positive students, this New York scheme offers a lifeline

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A nonprofit scheme teaches vital new skills

October 18 2011
Lindsay Macpherson

“Alpha Workshops represents an opportunity for our students to build their identities around their work rather than their illness.” So says Ken Wampler, founder and executive director of the New York-based not-for-profit, which teaches skills such as Venetian plastering, casting and gilding to around 40 HIV-positive (and previously unemployed) artisans per year.

The programmes are part-funded by Alpha’s in-house design studio – staffed by Alpha graduates – which has undertaken commissions for the likes of The Mandarin-Oriental Hotel Group in Las Vegas, the New York mayor’s headquarters (pictured) and the New York Design Center. It also produces painted wallpapers, hand-cast lamps and bespoke furniture for private clients. In 2010, Alpha teamed up with the US’s oldest wallpaper maker, Thibaut, to release a collection of six designs (from £63 per roll), and is finalising a collection of rugs and carpets with Edward Fields, to be released this month.