The Alternative Break program is an immersion experience into different cultural, environmental and socioeconomic communities across the nation. Students provide service in exchange for education about current social and cultural issues facing the host communities. Past trips have focused on such social/cultural issues as hunger, AIDS/HIV, housing, homelessness, issues facing Native American living on reservations, environmental conservation, education, economic sustainability, and women’s issues.
Students are selected to be on a trip team of between 8-15 students. They spend the year learning about the issue area, locally and globally, and about the host location. During spring break, they will participate in direct, educational service-learning with different organizations working as advocates and resources for the issue.
Commitment: October 2017- April 2018. Participants are required to commit to pre-trip meetings with their group. Usually every other Wednesday 5-7pm.
These pre-trip meetings are crucial to the alt break experience as they provide context and group bonding that set the stage for the week-long journey.
Cost: Varies depending on trip. Details can be found on the Alternative Break Descriptions page.
Applications now open. Apply Today!
Alternative Spring Break trips are each co-lead by two rock-star undergraduate students.
Each spring break trip is led by two student leaders. Those selected will work to plan the trip details including: service with agencies, housing, food, budgets, reflections, and entertainment. Site Leaders attend training as a group to help develop their leadership and facilitation skills as they plan pre-trip meetings and spring break experiences. They read and interview prospective participants, select their teams, and center the experience around the group.
Commitment: August 2017-April 2018. Site Leaders commit to weekly, Wednesday meetings (5-7pm) and outside meeting time with their co-site leader to plan the trip.
Requires a dedication to service learning and social justice as well as leadership, time management, and collaborative skills.
Alternative Break Site Leaders responsibilities include but are not limited to:
- Organize and plan all trip logistics
- Plan and facilitate weekly meetings for trip participants
- Ensure positive group dynamics and environment for all
- Manage all trip finances
What is alternative break?
The CSU alternative break program places teams of students in communities to engage in community service and experiential learning. This intensive immersion experience is designed to create active citizens, individuals who make the community a priority when making life choices.
The communities that host break teams may be near or far—CSU offers alternative break programs across the United States and world—but one thing that they will have in common is an environment far different from that of a college campus.
Students leave behind the world of books and laboratories and enter communities that are grappling with issues as varied as hunger, inadequate housing, and environmental degradation. Alternative break is not simply volunteerism—it is an intentionally designed experience that is mutually beneficial to both communities and students. While the communities benefit from tangible work completed, the students gain a broader understanding of the world around them. Students often return gaining a deeper sense of the complexity of social issues and a stronger commitment to resolving root causes of problems. Many students have hailed the experience as fundamentally life-changing and the best week they’ve ever had.
What is Slice's role in all of this?
The Office for Student Leadership, Involvement, and Community Engagement (SLICE) provides the overarching structure for the alternative break program. We provide:
- Training for all of the student site leaders on topics such as: risk management, recruitment and selection, working with community partners, teambuilding, fundraising, reflection and processing, budget, conflict resolution, and facilitation. Faculty leaders are welcome to attend any or all of the trainings.
- Centralized accounting for each alternative break trip. All deposits and financial transactions go through our office. Your department is not responsible for money
- Centralized recruitment and selection process for student participants (we have templates for interview questions, applications, etc).
- Logistics planning such as room reservations, meeting planning, etc.
- Timelines and structure to ensure that leaders can note their progress and make sure that they are on track for a successful trip
- A computer, mailbox, and long distance phone access so leaders can communicate to community partners
- Filing and tracking of all necessary paperwork including participant forms, itineraries, emergency contact information, risk management plans, etc.
- Supplies for trips including first aid kids, money belts, and binders
- Cheerleading and support for student/staff/faculty leaders as well as alternative break participants!
How do I get more information?
Contact the Assistant Director, Community Engagement & Volunteer Programs for more information about alternative breaks. You can also visit the alternative breaks website for up to date information on future trips, deadlines, and more!
If you are accompanying an international trip (or interested in getting involved), it is critical that you work in collaboration with the International Education Office at Colorado State University. We strongly recommend that you visit with a representative from the International Programs Office for copies of all of the forms, timelines, and deadlines required for all international field experiences at CSU.
What does it mean to be an alternative break site leader?
“A site leader is able to put his/her personal agenda aside and always do what is best for the group and the agency. A site leader not only must balance the world’s tightest budget at times but also balance the duties as a leader and a friend to everyone on the trip. A site leader is not above the group but rather is the one that unites everyone within the group.”
“In other words they're Superman/Superwoman”
“A site leader is able to read their group members and support them, individually or as a whole, throughout the week’s process. I'd say their main focus should be keeping the group together and keep them learning (about the issue, themselves, life, etc...) while on the trip.”
“Flexibility is necessary, as well as realizing that everything WILL work out. Expect long hours but a payback that is beyond words.”
“Of course, site leaders need to have a sense of humor ;)”
“A site leader in my perspective is someone who can handle their responsibility and present themselves in a positive way where the participants can feel included!”
“Staying calm in the face of a hurricane.”