About The Program

The Rutgers University Alternative Winter Break and Spring Break programs provide groups of Rutgers University undergraduate students with a semester-long experience centered on community service. Participants learn about a particular community issue within the United States during five weeks of pre-trip meetings and a volunteer break excursion.

On site, students provide necessary services and explore the culture and the history of the area. Students who participate in this program cultivate social responsibility, leadership, and life-long learning; thereby fostering a generation of leaders committed to positive social change. This program is sponsored by Leadership & Experiential Learning, Rutgers University Alternative Breaks, and Rutgers Student Affairs.

Rutgers University Alternative Breaks aims to provide Rutgers University students with an opportunity to:

  • Learn about and critically examine interlinking issues that affect the lives of the residents of the city/area they are completing service in and surrounding communities.
  • Work with the different community partners and organizations to complete service.
  • Listen to and understand community needs, recognize community strengths, and work with the community in reciprocal community relationships.
  • Continue a commitment to community service and social change while building new friendships and alliances.
Apply for an Alternative Break Trip!

Application Process

Applications are now OPEN for the 2019-2020 Alternative Break trips! Here are the deadlines for this year’s trip offerings:

  • Sunday, October 13, 2019 (@11:59PM): Alternative Winter Break Trips
  • Monday, November 11, 2019 (@11:59PM): Alternative Spring & Summer Break Trips (including DC Lead)

RUAB will be holding Information Sessions throughout the Fall 2019 semester for those interested in learning more about what the Alternative Breaks experience entails. Below are the dates, times, and locations of the upcoming sessions so drop on by to meet our team!

  • Wednesday, September 4th | 8PM – 9PM | Room 109, CASC
  • Monday, September 9th | 7PM – 8PM | Coffeehouse, LSC
  • Tuesday, September 24th | 6PM – 7PM | Douglass Lounge, DSC
  • Thursday, October 3rd | 7PM – 8PM | Coffeehouse, LSC
  • Monday, October 7th | 8PM – 9PM | Room 109, CASC
  • Thursday, October 17th | 6:30PM – 7:30PM | Collaborative Learning Center, LSC
  • Monday, November 11th | 7PM – 8PM | Room 109, CASC

Trips Offered

The dates for the 2019-2020 Rutgers University Alternative Break season will be the following:

  • January 5 – 11, 2020: Alternative Winter Break 1
  • January 12 – 18, 2020: Alternative Winter Break 2
  • March 15 – 21, 2020: Alternative Spring Break
  • May 20 – 27, 2020: Alternative Summer Break (International)

Below, you will see a listing of the Alternative Break trips being offered this year! Please note that no locations are disclosed until after you have applied, interviewed, and been accepted onto a trip. We ask that our applications keep service as the primary focus for their considerations.

If you would like to apply, click here: RUAB Applications (2019-2020)

For now, take a look to see what this past year’s trips were focused on. You can also see where all we have served in the past through our ARCGIS Interactive Map!

Winter

Beyond the Border: A Glimpse of Immigrant Life

Beyond the Border: A Glimpse of Immigrant Life
January 5-11, 2020 (Sunday-Saturday)
Flying (Cost: $600.00)
United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal: Reduced Inequalities

Social Issue Focus: Immigration Reform

In order to enact large-scale, political and social change in our nation, we believe that you must first take the time to understand another person’s story. In this Alternative Break, you will engage in conversation with U.S. immigrants and local grassroots leaders to gain multiple perspectives on the factors that affect the lives of immigrants. Additionally, you will work with the local immigrant community to promote and attend to their immediate needs, such as food insecurity. It is our goal that this trip you will leave you feeling empowered, capable, and united as a human race.

For any questions regarding this trip, please reach out by email to shivanijakeruab@gmail.com.

Plant Your Seed: Tackling Environmental Issues and Rebuilding Neighborhoods

Plant Your Seed: Tackling Environmental Issues and Rebuilding Neighborhoods
January 5-11, 2020 (Sunday-Saturday)
Flying (Cost: $600.00)
United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal: 13) Climate Action
Social Issue Focus: Environmental Conservation

From rising sea levels to natural disasters, the effects of climate change are on the rise and harming communities beyond what the eye sees. Our trip will focus on leaving a direct impact by restoring the ecosystem of an area in need and bringing light to the large effect environmental crises have on low-income areas. We will learn about how human behavior threatens the environment, but also how we can be more cognizant at home and help our ecosystems thrive!

For any questions regarding this trip, please reach out by email to sarahandeva.ruab@gmail.com.

Scarlet, White and Blue: Farming With Veterans

Scarlet, White and Blue: Farming With Veterans
January 5-11, 2020 (Sunday-Saturday)
Driving (Cost: $400.00)
United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals: 10) Reduced Inequalities

Social Issue Focus: Addiction Recovery and Homelessness

Many veterans today are actively struggling with the after-effects of addiction and homelessness, and reintegration into society has proven to be extremely difficult. Our trip’s mission is to explore their rehabilitative journeys through storytelling and community service to break the stigma around seeking help.

Email for more info: husain.vohra@rutgers.edu

The Right to Bear Identity: Exploring Transgender & Gender Non-Conforming Rights

The Right to Bear Identity: Exploring Transgender & Gender Non-Conforming Rights
January 5-11, 2020 (Sunday-Saturday)
Driving (Cost: $400.00)
United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals: 5) Gender Equality

Social Issue Focus: Women’s Rights & Empowerment

When it comes to understanding the variety of issues that LGBTQ+ communities face, there is so much progress to be made. On this trip, participants will learn about transgender and gender non-conforming communities and rights through service and the sharing of personal experiences. As a group, we hope to empower ourselves and others to come together and continue developing the changing narrative that surrounds the expansive landscape of gender inequality.

For any questions regarding this trip, please reach out by email to alyssa.brian.ruab@gmail.com.

Humans and Nature: Where to Draw the Line

Humans and Nature: Where to Draw the Lines
January 6-12, 2020 (Sunday-Saturday)
Flying (Cost: $600)
United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals:13) Climate Action, 15) Life on Land

Social Issue Focus: Animal Welfare, Environmental Conservation

The environment is suffering from human encroachment, exploitation, and neglect. On this trip, we will promote ecotourism by removing invasive species, building enclosures, discarding debris, and more to maintain the border between humans and the environment. Participants will see the direct impact of their service and develop an appreciation for our environment. Most importantly, participants will return to Rutgers with a mission to live a more sustainable and greener life.

For any questions regarding this trip, please reach out by email to calebandmaddy4@gmail.com.

Women in Recovery: Shelter, Hope, and Healing

Women in Recovery: Shelter, Hope, and Healing
 January 12-18, 2020 (Sunday-Saturday)
Flying (Cost: $600)
United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals: 3) Good Health & Well-Being

Social Issue Focus: Substance Abuse & Mental Health

Thousands of women around the country suffer from co-occurring substance abuse and mental health issues every year. The organization that we are working with provides transitional housing for women who need a safe place to focus on their treatment, recovery, and healing. Join us as we serve the organization in their mission to help these women to achieve lasting good health and well-being.

For any questions regarding this trip, please reach out by email to jackielancelex@gmail.com.

Spring

A Second Chance at the Circle of Life

A Second Chance at the Circle of Life
March 15-21, 2020 (Sunday-Saturday)
Driving (Cost: $400.00)
Social Issue Focus: Animal Welfare & Environmental Conservation

On this Alternative Break, participants will get hands-on learning experiences in nature at an animal sanctuary. We will be serving over 200 rescued farm animals, animals used in labs, and  exotic species while learning about environmental conservation, sustainability, and animal welfare. Come join us on an immersive journey to reconnect with nature and the world around us!

For any questions regarding this trip, please reach out by email to hdaj2019@gmail.com.

Combat the Stigma: Exploring the Reality of HIV/AIDS

Combat the Stigma: Exploring the Reality of HIV/AIDS
March 15-21, 2020 (Sunday-Saturday)
Driving (Cost: $400.00)
United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals: 3) Good Health and Well-Being; 10) Reduced Inequalities

Social Issue Focus: Healthcare (HIV/AIDs, Public Health)

For years known as “gay cancer,” HIV/AIDS is a condition that is highly stigmatized and misunderstood. The purpose of our service trip is to educate participants on the impact of HIV/AIDS and learn ways to provide support for the LGBTQIA community. Through meetings, projects, and workshops, we will expand our awareness and create a space free of judgement for all individuals.

For any questions regarding this trip, please reach out by email to shannonandrhearuab@gmail.com.

Immigration: Living within a CommUnity

Immigration: Living within a CommUnity
March 15-21, 2020 (Sunday-Saturday)
Flying (Cost: $600)
United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals: 2) Zero Hunger; 10) Reduced Inequalities

Social Issue Focus: Immigration and Refugee Resettlement

Join us on a trip balanced by both education and hands-on experiences, in which we will be living and learning alongside diverse host families. Witness a unified community who are empowering a path for others to learn more about immigration reform, community building, root causes of migration, and agroecology. Through hearing from these new stories, we can learn how we can bridge their narratives to our own and gain new insight into this matter.

For any questions regarding this trip, please reach out by email to alisonandgilbertruab@gmail.com.

Looking Back to Move Forward: Civil Rights, Truth, and Reconciliation

Looking Back to Move Forward: Civil Rights, Truth, and Reconciliation
March 15-21, 2020 (Sunday-Saturday)
Flying (Cost: $600.00)
United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals: 10) Reduced Inequalities, 16) Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Social Issue Focus: Historic & Cultural Preservation, Race & Racism, Violence Prevention

Our trip’s mission is to explore the civil rights and social justice issues which are so deeply rooted in the fabric of our country by working within one of the most historically rich cities from the civil rights movement. Once on the ground, we will speak with and collect the oral histories of people who were on the front-lines of the fight for civil rights, work on voter registration, community development and other cultural preservation projects. Our host and partner will also be providing us with workshops on nonviolent conflict reconciliation techniques which will enable us to take the lessons we learned from the trip and better facilitate important conversations back home. .

For any questions regarding this trip, please reach out by email to ruabsarmar@gmail.com.

Tough as Nails

Tough as Nails
March 15-21, 2020 (Sunday-Saturday)
Driving (Cost: $400.00)
United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals: 1) No Poverty, 10) Reduced Inequalities

Social Issue Focus: Environmental Conservation, Historic & Cultural Preservation, Housing & Homelessness

Sometimes the most unsuspecting places are the ones with the most to learn from! Tough as nails is all about working alongside this small, but culturally rich community to take a step towards alleviating poverty for these people. We will work on home and school repair while learning about where the people of this amazing town find personal strength in the face of difficult times.

For any questions regarding this trip, please reach out by email to toriandangelaruab@gmail.com.

Havana Knights: Arts, Culture, & Education

Havana Knights: First-Generation Service & Learning
March 15-21, 2020 (Sunday-Saturday)
Flying (Cost: $1,200)
United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals: Goal 3 – Good Health and Well-Being

Social Issue Focus: Historic & Cultural Preservation

Immerse yourself in the Cuban culture as we learn about the arts, agriculture, education, and more! This trip will delve deeper into the geopolitical relationship between our two nations to demystify and debunk many myths and notions about the Cuban people.

*Co-sponsored with Rutgers Future Scholars. Priority for this trip will be granted to first-generation college students.

DC LEAD: Tackling Hunger & Homelessness (First-Year & New Transfer Students Only)

DC LEAD: Tackling Hunger & Homelessness (First-Year & New Transfer Students Only)
March 15-21, 2020
Driving (Cost: $400)
United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals: 1) No Poverty, 2) Zero Hunger, 3) Good Health and Well-Being

Social Issues Focus: Hunger and homelessness, power and privilege

DC Lead’s mission is learning through service. It’s about recognizing the political accents that scatter our service work as well as recognizing one’s own privilege. DC Lead’s mission is to start the rehabilitation of cities while using our political knowledge to navigate what surrounds the  rehabilitation of cities – things such as redlining, gentrification, food deserts, criminalization of an individual and how these (as well as others) effect poverty and homelessness and hunger.

Email for more info: lead@echo.rutgers.edu

Summer (International)

Limitless Abilities

Limitless Abilities
May 20-27, 2020 (Wednesday-Wednesday)
Flying (Cost: $999)
United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals: 4) Quality Education, 10) Reduced Inequalities

Social Issue Focus: Ableism & Disabilities, Education Reform, Youth Development

Our trip focuses on the problems faced by youth with cognitive disabilities. We will be working with a non-profit organization to help improve the fine motor skills of these youth. As well as assisting with the needs of these children, we will learn the different stigmas attached to having a cognitive disability, and specifically what that means in a country outside of the US. Our participants, staff, and site leaders alike will be discovering what can be done to break barriers and erase stigmas surrounding disability.

Email for more info: jazmine.saumya@gmail.com

Frequently Asked Questions

The following is a list of commonly asked questions regarding Rutgers University Alternative Break trips. We’ve done our best to list the most common questions, but if you have a question we haven’t answered below, please feel free to email us at lead@echo.rutgers.edu.

What is the commitment to be a part of Alternative Breaks?

Q: What is the commitment to be a part of Alternative Breaks?

The commitment for Alternative Breaks consists of four weeks of pre-trip meetings, the trip (all trips are approximately 7 days), one post-trip meeting and one post-trip service project. It is expected that all students will actively participate in fundraising events for the trips as well as their own fundraising. In addition, all students are expected to attend all evening activities while on the trip sponsored by the host site and to remain completely drug and alcohol free the entire time while on the trip.

What are pre-trip meetings?

What are pre-trip meetings?

Pre-trip meetings are very important in the Alternative Break process. These meetings give students the opportunity to get to know each other and bond prior to the trip. Students learn about the history and culture of the area in pre-trip meetings as well as about the social issue they will be dealing with while volunteering.

Who participates in the trips?

Who participates in the trips?

Rutgers undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, and staff participate in trips. Each trip has 10 student participants, 2 student site leaders and 1 professional staff member who serves as a Staff Partner for the trip.

We also run several specialty trips including our first-year leadership alternative break that brings 45 participants, 8 site leaders, and 2 staff partners to Washington, DC during Spring Break. To inquire about our first-year specific trip, email lead@echo.rutgers.edu.

Do I have to have prior volunteer experience in order to attend a trip?

Do I have to have prior volunteer experience in order to attend a trip?

Although prior volunteer experience is great, it is not necessary.

How much are the trips?

How much are the trips?

Costs vary depending on the trip. However, trips where the group is flying usually cost approximately $550-600.00. Trips where the group is driving usually cost approximately $375-400.00.  International trips cost approximately $850-950.00.  Students attending trips are fully expected to participate in all Alternative Break fundraising events and to fundraise individually as well.

Are the sites new every year or do you repeat programs?

Are the sites new every year or do you repeat programs?

Trips are based on a variety of different criteria. New trips are added each year and we try to offer a diverse set of trips that tackle various social and environmental issues.

Will I miss class by participating on a trip?

Will I miss class by participating on a trip?

Alternative Break trips are not scheduled while regular classes are meeting. However, they may conflict with some winter session classes.

What is a group travel experience?

What is a group travel experience?

Group travel experience means that decisions will be made in the best interest of the group as whole. In other words, individuals might not get to see all the sights and/or eat at all the places where they would like to. Group travel requires people to cooperate and compromise with others, however the experience is very rewarding for all involved.

Can I bring my laptop on my Alternative Breaks trip?

Can I bring my laptop on my Alternative Breaks trip?

The Alternative Breaks program advises all participants not to bring any valuables with them on their trips, for multiple reasons. One, is that there is a risk that valuables will get lost and/or stolen. And second, laptops serve as a distraction and hinder group dynamics.

How many Alternative Break trips can I participate in a year?

Q: How many Alternative Break trips can I participate in a year?

Due to the popularity of the program, students may only participate in one Alternative Break trip per year.

Am I guaranteed a spot on at least one trip?

Q: Am I guaranteed a spot on at least one trip?

The AB program receives more applications than spots we have available on trips, therefore we cannot guarantee placement on a trip. Students are offered at least one trip, although it may not be a top choice. The more trips that you are willing to participate in, the higher your chances of getting placed on a trip.

I am studying abroad. Can I still apply?

Q: I am studying abroad. Can I still apply?

Due to application and interview deadlines, students who are participating in study abroad are unable at this time to apply for an AB trip.

How can I become a Site Leader?

Q: How can I become a Site Leader?

Students who have attended at least one AB trip are eligible to apply to be trip leaders by filling out an AB Site Leader Application. Following the application students are required to schedule an interview with the AB team. After all interviews are conducted a selection committee meets to place leaders. Student leaders are usually chosen for their peer leadership abilities and qualities, and not necessarily for their knowledge about a certain location or issue. The AB team attempts to match pairs of leaders with complementing leadership qualities (i.e. an introvert with an extrovert, or a details person with a big picture person).

How does payment work and what happens if I have to cancel last-minute?

Q: How does payment work and what happens if I have to cancel last-minute?

Once accepted into the program, the student must bring their $100.00 non-refundable deposit that is credited towards the total trip fee to SABO. The deadline to withdraw from an AB trip is 50 days prior to your trip departure date. If you do not provide written notice to the leadership department of your withdrawal before this deadline you will be charged any costs incurred to RUAB (including transportation, room and board, site fees, etc.) Any exceptions to these rules are made on a case by case basis.  Students will be provided with final payment deadlines upon acceptance into the program.

Are the Alternative Break trips safe?

Q: Are the Alternative Break trips safe?

Yes. Every year the safety of each trip is considered. Nevertheless, there are always risks in domestic and international travel.

Who may I contact if I have more specific questions?

Q: Who may I contact if I have more specific questions?

For any additional information please contact us at lead@echo.rutgers.edu.