In 1900, a group of Birmingham citizens established a workshop for the rehabilitation of people with disabilities, especially those with vision impairments. Initially our clients created products for sale, including broom and mops. In the first half of the 20th century, in addition to making brooms and mops, Workshops, Inc. operated sewing rooms in which pajamas and sheets were made for hospitals and tuberculosis sanitariums. In each of the World Wars, we flourished with government contracts, and from the 1950's through the 1970's, Workshops, Inc. established wood-working, upholstery, and general craft work capabilities. At one point, Workshops, Inc. even had a band – The Alley Cats – who played for President Nixon!
In recent decades, Workshops, Inc. focused on training people with disabilities and other barriers to employment in production areas that provide outsourcing solutions for local businesses - including assembly, mailing, fulfillment and handwork solutions. Our goal is for everyone we serve to reach their highest level of employment.
Just as our business services have changed over the years, so too has our clientele. While we continue to focus on serving people with disabilities, we also serve people with other barriers to employment. This allows us to serve more people, and also to integrate our workplace to include people of all abilities working side-by-side. Having an integrated workforce and paying all workers equal wages regardless of ability has allowed Workshops, Inc. to become the first internationally accredited Affirmative Business Enterprise in Alabama.
To better align our work with our identity and to reflect changes in best practices in our field, in early 2021 Workshops, Inc. became Workshops Empowerment Inc. or WE Inc. As recipients of the 2020 Fire in the Belly grant from Cayenne Creative, this generous and talented group guided us through this rebranding.
WE Inc. is located in the Avondale neighborhood of Birmingham.