About The Program

The Rutgers University Alternative 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.
Applications for Spring 2021 Alternative Breaks are Now Open!

Application Process

Applications are open for our 2020-2021  Alternative Spring Break trips!

Apply at bit.ly/RUAB2020  by November 30th, 2020. 

Please note: Applicants must currently reside within New Jersey to apply. 

 

Submitted applications will be reviewed by the RUAB team and participant placement updates will be shared December 2020.

 

Trips Offered

In lieu of our traditional service trip programs, RUAB will primarily offer localized service experiences within New Jersey and the tri-state area. We hope it further empowers us to connect with, and take meaningful action in, our own communities to make it a better place for us all. 

RUAB is continuously monitoring the NJ travel advisory list and  will follow all recommendations and guidelines in accordance with university, state and federal regulations as it relates to COVID-19, travel and safety protocols. Any changes to the university’s operating status or added university or state travel restrictions may impact how and where our trips may serve.  

Given the uncertainty of the Spring 2021 semester and COVID-19, we thank you for your flexibility and willingness to remain open minded. Should there be any operational changes that impact any of the trips listed, RUAB will communicate all updates or changes out to the community. 

 

You can see where all we have served in the past through our ARCGIS Interactive Map!

Spring 2021

Serving R Home

Serving R Home

  • March 14-20, 2021
  • Cost: $100.00
  • Location: Throughout NJ

Description: The RUAB team is providing a variety of NJ based localized experiences that combine service, advocacy, education and reflection focused on “Serving R Home” right here in our state. Participants will be led by site leader teams who have fostered community partnerships throughout the area and will explore a variety of social issues. Local based service trips may include in-person service, virtual service or a hybrid model. Participants will be responsible for transportation to and from any in-person local based service site, if applicable.

Social Issue Focuses: We will be focusing on a broad range of social issues, which will be dependent on which area of NJ you’ll be serving in!

You & The Youth of Philadelphia

You & The Youth of Philadelphia

  • March 14-20, 2021
  • Location: Philadelphia, PA
  • Cost: $350.00

Description: Now more than ever, disadvantaged youths lack resources to successfully transition to adulthood. This Alternative Breaks trip explores the factors that cause this disparity including, poor community funding, unstable households, poverty and more. Participants will also learn about the juvenile justice system and its disproportionate impact on African American youth. The goal of the trip is to educate ourselves and serve the underserved youth.

Social Issue(s) Focus: Youth development & juvenile justice reform

UN Sustainable Goal(s) Targeted: Reduced Inequalities (Goal 10),  Peace, justice and strong institutions (Goal 16)

PAwsitevly Aware of Animal Welfare

PAwsitevly Aware of Animal Welfare

  • Dates: March 14-20, 2021
  • Cost: $350.00
  • Location: Avondale, PA

Description: At a time when compassion and healing are needed most, this Alternative Break trip will provide participants with an opportunity to reconnect with nature and our environment. With hands-on learning experiences at an animal sanctuary, we will be serving over 200 farm and exotic animals rescued from abuse, neglect, and slaughter at factory farms and lab experiments. Come join us on an immersive experience and appreciate these animal’s second chance at life.

Social Issues Focus: Animal Welfare and Environmental Conservation
UN Sustainable Development Goal(s) Targeted: Life On Land (Goal 15)

From the Banks to the Bay

From the Banks to the Bay

  • Dates: March 14-20, 2021
  • Cost: $350.00
  • Location: Edgewater and Annapolis, MD (Chesapeake Bay)

Description: As students of a large urban university, we tend to take for granted our community and the wildlife that surrounds us. We’ve planned an immersive experience to take students from the banks of the Raritan to the tranquil landscape of the Chesapeake Bay. This trip will help to harness a deep understanding of Maryland’s indigenous marine wildlife and natural treasures. Participants will serve as effective advocates for finding a science-based solution to the pressing climate crisis that surrounds us all. We will develop a commitment to CBF’s “Save the Bay!” motto, and will carry its core values back to the Raritan!

Social Issue(s) Focus: Environmental Sustainability and Climate Change
UN Sustainable Developments Goal(s) Targeted: Climate Action (13), Life Below Water (14), Life On Land (15)

Reducing the Margin: Serving Starts with Understanding

Reducing the Margin: Serving Starts with Understanding

  • Dates: March 14-20, 2021
  • Cost: $100
  • Location: Central NJ

Description: Given the current pandemic, it is now more important than ever to understand what is needed from marginalized communities as they are the people most negatively impacted by the coronavirus and its aftershocks. In this hybrid virtual/socially distanced in-person service opportunity we will engage in interactive workshops to learn about the LGBTQ+ community within the Indigenous people of Guatemala as well as their views on what world development means. We will then bring our learnings back home in the US to understand what can be done in our communities to serve marginalized people.

Social Issue(s) Focus: LGBTQ+ Rights w/in the Indigenous Guatemalan community, Indigenous Rights
UN Sustainable Goal Focus: Reduced Inequalities (10) & Sustainable Cities and Communities (11)

*Note – Trip is open only to first-generation students enrolled at Rutgers University

Lead,Serve,Inspire NJ (LSINJ): Tackling Hunger & Homelessness in Our Own Backyard

Lead,Serve,Inspire NJ (LSINJ): Tackling Hunger & Homelessness in Our Own Backyard

  • Dates: March 14-20, 2021
  • Cost: $100
  • Location: Central NJ

Description: LSINJ’s mission is to integrate service and learning as we explore what it means to be an engaged citizen and recognize the ways in which we can be catalysts for positive social change through civic engagement and meaningful action. Through educational curriculum, reflection sessions, and connections to community partners, we will learn more about the complex nature of social issues like food and housing insecurity and understand the importance of making sustainable and ethical choices and how to integrate them into our daily lives. Take the next step and join us in serving our New Jersey community and help amplify public concern and build community at Rutgers and beyond.

Social Issue(s) Focus: Poverty, Food Insecurity, Housing & Homelessness
UN Sustainable Development Goal(s) Targeted: No Poverty (Goal 1); Zero Hunger (Goal 2)
*Note – Trip is open only to first-year or new Rutgers students (transfers included)

Summer 2021 (TBD)

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. You can see where all we have served in the past through our ARCGIS Interactive Map!

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.