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Alternative Break Program

We are very pleased that you are interested in the Alternative Break Program. While the program has been on hold, we are looking to start offering these programs again in the 2022-2023 academic year!


What is an Alternative Break?

During alternative break trips, teams of college students engage in community service typically focused on a particular social issue such as poverty, education reform, or conservation. Some alternative break trips explore other ways, such as role-plays and simulations or think tanks, to work towards the common good.

Trips are usually about one week in duration. Along with performing service, the groups also learn about the culture, customs, and socio-economic conditions of the place—be it a destination abroad or here in the U.S.—where they are volunteering. Last, but definitely not least, participation in alternative breaks contributes to self-discovery, self-growth, and working as a part of a team towards a common goal.

Please review the previous Alternative Spring Break Trips and FAQs to learn more about the program, and participant expectations and responsibilities.

Below you will see an overview of some of the trips we have done in the past. For more information or for speak to someone about the program, please contact the Civic and Community Engagement Center located in SC-213 at (201)-684-7586 or by e-mail

Aranjuez, Costa Rica

Students work with the NATUWA Macaw Sanctuary, a wildlife conservation organization in Aranjuez, Costa Rica to feed, clean, and build enclosures for the animals there which include primarily macaws along with parrots, cockatoos, spider monkeys and marmosets among others. The animals there are not pets, and many of them have been rescued from the black market pet trade. The hope is that one day many of them will return back to their natural habitats.


Asheville, North Carolina

Students and staff will go to Asheville, North Carolina to work with Habitat for Humanity for two days.  The group will build houses for those in need in the area.  They will also paint houses, replace roofing, lay foundation, and perform other tasks to build the house.  They will meet the homeowners they are helping, as well. Students will also work at the Art Space Charter School Community Garden for two days to help combat hunger needs in the area.

Westchester, New York (Commuter trip)

Student and staff will improve and increase shrubland habitat on its Fredrick P. Rose Preserve by installing a deer fence and managing specific plants. Students and staff will explore conservation and environmentalism. Transportation, food, and lodging costs are included. 


Rutland, Massachusetts (First-Year Only Trip)

Students and staff will go to the Heifer Overlook Farm in Rutland, Massachusetts for service learning on a sustainable farm.  Participating in a poverty simulation and attending educational workshops, the students will learn about sustainable living and global hunger issues while caring for animals on the farm. In addition, students will participate in the “global getaway,” learning about hunger and homelessness worldwide.

If you have a question that you don’t see listed below, please contact the Civic and Community Engagement Center located in SC-213 at (201)-684-7586 or by e-mail at

Why are trips alcohol and substance-free?

One reason Alternative breaks were founded was to counter the excesses of “traditional” college spring breaks. Beyond this, alcohol and other substance-free environments promote safety, health, and wellness and offer participants more authentic opportunities for team-building and service to others.

How do I apply for an Alternative Break trip?

The application for all the trips run by the Civic and Community Engagement Center will be available on Archway

How does the selection process work

There will be a selection committee for each trip composed of students, faculty, and/or staff who will review the applications and make selection recommendations to the Director of the Center for Student Involvement, the Assistant Director for Community Service, and the Coordinator for Political and Civic Engagement.

When will I be notified if I am selected?

Applicants selected to become an alternative break participant will be notified before the end of each fall semester.

How many alternative spring break trips are offered and to what destinations?

It has ranged from 2 to 5 trips a year. Previous locations have included Quito, Ecuador; Aranjuez, Costa Rica; Asheville, North Carolina; Perryville, Arkansas and Rutland, Massachusetts.

Are all the trips open to all students?

Most trips are open to all students. Occasionally there are trips that limit applicants to first-year students, commuter students, or other specific populations. Any limitations for applicants will be clearly noted

Are there trip leaders? How are they selected?

Each alternative break trip has at least one student leader and one faculty or staff leader. Those interested in serving in this capacity should contact the Civic and Community Engagement Center for more information. Trip leaders are selected to based on prior experience with alternative break trips or similar travel experiences, overall leadership qualities and abilities, and commitment to work that furthers the common good.

How much do the trips cost?

Each trip will have its own cost. Fees are determined based on transportation, lodging, meals, program and other costs. The Center for Student Involvement subsidizes a percentage of the total cost of each trip.

What about fundraising?

Each trip is encouraged to do fundraising for their respective group. It is also recommended that students fundraise individually to help with cost. The Civic and Community Engagement Center also organizes general fundraising for the program.

Will I receive a refund if I pay for a trip and then can’t go?

Refunds are only issued in rare instances. You must request a refund in writing. For international trips and other trips involving air travel, no refunds will be issued once your plane ticket has been generated. All participants will be provided with a copy of the Refund Policy.

Will I need a passport for the international trips?

Yes! You will need a valid passport to travel internationally. To be considered for either international trip, you must submit a copy of your valid passport to the Civic and Community Engagement Center at the same time as you submit your application on Archway.

As please note that starting 5/3/23, a Real ID or passport is required for domestic flights as well.

Are there health and safety issues to keep in mind?

Yes! You are the primary guardian of your own health and safety. It is important to remember this. It is also important to remember that you will be traveling with a group. Group members look out for each other and help each other to stay safe and healthy. You will be given a liability waiver and medical information form so that trip leaders can be aware of any health conditions or medical concerns. When traveling to unfamiliar destinations it is crucial to observe the highest safety practices. Always travel with the whole group or at least in pairs. Be certain that someone knows where you are at all times. Observe all the health and safety regulations of the host site. Never take unnecessary risks with your own safety or the safety of others. International health insurance is included in the total cost for International Trips

Once I have been selected for a trip, what are my responsibilities?

Each trip will hold at least three (3) pre-trip solidarity meetings. You are responsible for attending each pre-trip meeting. These meetings will cover health and safety, itinerary, work projects, team-building exercises, fundraising and so on. It is critical that you make yourself available for these meetings in order for the group to make the most of their experience. Once you have returned from your alternative break trip, you will be responsible for attending at least one (1) post-trip solidarity meeting and for attending, if at all possible, the celebratory luncheon or reception that usually takes place in April.

How do I get more information?

Visit the CCEC Archway page online and the Civic and Community Engagement Center in room SC213 to stay up to date. Applications should become available each October for March trips.