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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.

Application Process

Recruitment for our 2018-2019 Alternative Break trips has now begun! You can access the application here: Alternative Break Participant Application (2018-2019)

  • Alternative Winter Break Trips: Applications due by 11:59PM on Sunday, October 7, 2018
  • Alternative Fall Weekend Break Trip: Applications due by 11:59PM on Sunday, October 7, 2018
  • Alternative Spring & Summer Break Trips: Applications due by 11:59PM on Monday, November 12, 2018

RUAB will be holding Information Sessions throughout the Fall 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 5th | 8PM – 9PM | Douglass Lounge, DSC
  • Monday, September 17th | 7PM – 8PM | Red Lion, Cafe, CASC
  • Thursday, September 27th | 5PM – 6PM | The Cove, BSC
  • Monday, October 8th | 8PM – 9PM | Gathering Lounge, LSC
  • Tuesday, October 23rd | 7PM – 8PM | NJC Lounge, DSC
  • Monday, November 12th | 7PM – 8PM | Red Lion Cafe, CASC

Trips Offered

The dates for the 2018-2019 Alternative Break trips will be the following:

  • November 2 – 4, 2018 (Friday – Sunday): Alternative Fall Weekend Break
  • January 6 – 12, 2019: Alternative Winter Break 1
  • January 10 – 16, 2019: Alternative Winter Break 2
  • January 13 – 19, 2019: Alternative Winter Break 3
  • February 2019 (Friday – Sunday): Alternative Spring Weekend Break
  • March 17 – 23, 2019: Alternative Spring Break

Below, you will see brief overviews of each of the 17 trips being offered this year! Please note that no locations are disclosed until after you have been accepted onto a trip. We ask that our applicants keep the service focus as their primary consideration and not locale.

If you would like to see where some of the previous years’ trips have gone, please feel free to check out this ARCGIS Interactive Map!

Weekend Break

Dig It! Urban Farming and Food Sustainability in the US

Dig It! Urban Farming and Food Sustainability in the US
November 2-4, 2018 (Friday-Sunday)
Driving (Cost: $100)
Social Issue Focus: Hunger, Community Development

Come get your hands dirty with us as we explore what is means to cultivate, process and distribute food to feed towns and cities. Our trip offers a hands on experience to see where your everyday foods come from as well as learn more about social and economic factors of food disparity. We will work with organizations that strive to provide affordable and nutritious options to food insecure communities and students will gain a new perspective about one of the most basic needs: food.

Email for more info: jscuruab@gmail.com

Winter

A Right to Wellness: Reclaiming Her Health

A Right to Wellness: Reclaiming Her Health
January 6-12, 2019 (Sunday-Saturday)
Flying (Cost: $575)
Social Issue Focus: Women’s health, Health education and outreach

The specifics in women’s health have been marginalized in society to this day, and on this trip we aim to debunk the stereotype that women’s health is something to be ashamed of. Focusing on women’s health will begin to bridge the gap with between the world and women’s health by making conversations about the topic easier to have in society. Becoming educated on women’s health will encourage women to reach out to their healthcare providers so they can work together to have a healthy fulfilling life they deserve.

Email for more info: Dominique.marina.ruab@gmail.com

Deconstructing Divides: Exploring the Migrant Journey

Deconstructing Divides: Exploring the Migrant Journey
January 6-12, 2019 (Sunday-Saturday)
Flying (Cost: $575)

Social Issue Focus: Immigration Reform, Human welfare

Gain insight into the trials and tribulations of migration into the United States through hands-on service. Support those in the midst of migrating as well as learn from those who have completed the journey. Increase your awareness of immigration reform and broaden your understanding of immigration law in order to gain a new perspective on an extremely important international issue.

Email for more info: kristenannaruab@gmail.com

Getting R Hands Dirty: Living Sustainably

Getting R Hands Dirty: Living Sustainably 
January 6-12, 2019 (Sunday-Saturday)
Driving (Cost: $375)
Social Issue Focus: Environmental sustainability

Are you ready to get your hands muddy and broaden your understanding of the environment and living a healthy lifestyle? Our team will be spending time on a rural farm to learn about sustainable practices through cooking, milking cows, and planting produce while also bonding over some campfires.

Email for more info: arshi.jodi18@gmail.com

The TREEmendous Alternative Break

The TREEmendous Alternative Break
January 6-12, 2019 (Sunday-Saturday)
Flying (Cost: $575)
Social Issue Focus: Climate change, Environmental conservation

On The TREEmendous Alternative Break, students will learn about the effects of climate change and the importance of conservation while gaining hands on experience in a citizen science project to study the effects of climate change on the local flora and work to maintain the land. This type of work has a strong learning component, as students would be working alongside a team of specialists and technicians, learning about how climate and environmental change is impacting local species. At a time when climate change is affecting the entire world and continues to threaten all people, arming ourselves with the proper information and adding to scientific evidence is vital in keeping our planet safe for all.

Email for more info: mattandemilyruab@gmail.com

Rise Up: Rebuilding Communities, Raising Resilience, and Rising Above Inequalities

Rise Up: Rebuilding Communities, Raising Resilience, and Rising Above Inequalities
January 10-16, 2019 (Thursday-Wednesday)
Flying (Cost: $575)
Social Issue Focus: Natural Disaster Relief, Community Development, Recovery, Resiliency

Natural disasters can devastate communities and deteriorate existing inequalities. How we respond, rebuild, and promote resilience to future events can make all the difference. Students will serve ongoing efforts to support emotional and physical recovery at orphanages in a disaster-stricken community.

Email for more info: chriskatRUAB@gmail.com

Fighting Against Stigma: Exploring the Realities of HIV/AIDS

Fighting Against Stigma: Exploring the Realities of HIV/AIDS
January 13-19, 2019 (Sunday-Saturday)
Driving (Cost: $375)
Social Issue Focus: HIV/AIDS Care, LGBTQIA Community Support

Our service trip aims to educate participants about the impact of HIV/AIDs as well as providing support for the LGBTQIA community. Through workshops, screenings and discussions, we will be able to broaden our awareness and create a judgement free space for all individuals. We hope to bring back a greater understanding of the LGBTQIA community and develop awareness about the stigmas attached to sexually transmitted diseases in our society.

Email for more info: mugdha.lovedeepruab@gmail.com

Stop the Traffic: Justice, Advocacy and Service

Stop the Traffic: Justice, Advocacy and Service
 January 6-12, 2019 (Sunday-Saturday)
Flying (Cost: $575)
Social Issue Focus: Human Trafficking, Advocacy

During Stop the Traffic: Justice, Advocacy, and Service participants will become exposed to human trafficking as a national issue as well as provide support both directly and indirectly to victims both past and present. Our primary goal of this trip is to encourage difficult conversations and motivate participants to take action towards social issues relevant and important to them.

Email for more info: jlettman.artorres@gmail.com

Erase the Stigma: Exploring Issues of Substance Abuse, Mental Health, and Homelessness

Erase the Stigma: Exploring Issues of Substance Abuse, Mental Health, and Homelessness
January 13-19, 2019 (Sunday-Saturday)
Flying (Cost: $575)
Social Issue Focus: Mental health, Homelessness, Addiction recovery

The purpose of our trip is to immerse students in an engaging environment and allow them to explore the highly stigmatized issues of addiction, mental health, and homelessness. Throughout the trip, we will explore how some of these issues are connected and hear firsthand experiences from individuals in recovery. In a world where addiction, mental health, and homelessness are prominent but not discussed as frequently as they should be, we hope to equip students with enough knowledge to discuss these issues back on campus, doing their part to erase the stigma.

Email for more info: erasethestigmarutgers@gmail.com

Spring

Into the Woods: A Tale of Environmental Conservation

Into the Woods: A Tale of Environmental Conservation
March 17-23, 2019 (Sunday-Saturday)
Driving (Cost: $375)
Social Issue Focus: Sustainability, Conservation

Experience the beauty of nature through our trip centered around environmental awareness and sustainability. Examine how invasive species have threatened our environment and caused ecosystems to collapse. Engage in interactive experiences ranging from park beautification to trail development to help restore our environment to its former glory!

Email for more info: nityash.RUAB@gmail.com

Cultivating Compassion: Getting Down and Dirty with Sustainable Wellness

Cultivating Compassion: Getting Down and Dirty with Sustainable Wellness
March 17-23, 2019 (Sunday-Saturday)
Driving (Cost: $375)
Social Issue Focus: Sustainability, Animal Welfare

Share the abundance and join us on an Alternative Break that’s sure to leave a lasting impact! We will be serving a unique community with values founded on caring for the Earth and the creatures we share it with, while seeking to accelerate global transformation through compassionate living.  Through the lenses of sustainability and animal welfare, we will honor the sanctity of all life and explore ways to achieve wellness both personally and environmentally.

Email for more info: hbsk.ruab@gmail.com

On the Fence of Immigration

On the Fence of Immigration
March 17-23, 2019 (Sunday-Saturday)
Driving (Cost: $375)
Social Issue Focus: Immigration reform

Join us on a thought provoking expedition to explore the unique problems of modern day immigrants and refugees. This trip gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the myriad of hardships faced by those searching for a better life in America.

Email for more info: saracolleenlex@gmail.com

WIC: Combatting Hunger, Homelessness, & Financial Insecurity

WIC: Combatting Hunger, Homelessness, & Financial Insecurity
March 17-23, 2019 (Sunday-Saturday)
Flying (Cost: $575)
Social Issue Focus: Hunger, Homelessness, Poverty

Each day millions of women and children suffer from hunger, homelessness, and financial insecurities. Through an immersive hands-on experience students will be working directly with individuals and families combatting these challenges. In addition, students will learn about the plethora of issues posed by their communities, and the organizations collaborating to effectively combat these issues.

Email for more info: sld200@scarletmail.rutgers.edu

Ending the Cycle of Crime: From Child to Criminal

Ending the Cycle of Crime: From Child to Criminal
March 17-23, 2019 (Sunday-Saturday)
Flying (Cost: $575)
Social Issue Focus: Juvenile Delinquency, youth development

In the eyes of the public, juvenile delinquents are often deemed criminals, but only a few people get the opportunity to truly understand how the juvenile justice system works and how the juveniles’ situations transpired the way that they did. By serving on this trip, students will gain a greater understanding of our juvenile justice system and will have the opportunity to mentor and develop their leadership skills by acting as positive social role models.

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

Knights Go Sky High: Home Repair & Community Service

Knights Go Sky High: Home Repair & Community Service
March 17-23, 2019 (Sunday-Saturday)
Driving (Cost: $375)
Social Issue Focus: Community Development, Poverty

On our alternative break, we are staying with an organization whose primary focus is to serve its community. We will be repairing homes for low income families, who are facing hard times, and assisting non-profit and grassroots organizations. We will be immersing ourselves in the culture and heritage of this region, through education and service.

Email for more info: colinandhusainruab@gmail.com

Disappearing Wetlands: An Ecological Crisis

Disappearing Wetlands: An Ecological Crisis
March 17-23, 2019 (Sunday-Saturday)
Flying (Cost: $575)
Social Issue Focus: Environmental, Natural Disaster Relief

As a result of natural disasters, vital wetlands have been receding, negatively affecting local wildlife and plant specifies. Our trips goal is to combat this by engaging in ecological restoration, such as planting trees and removing invasive species. Come join us on our journey to preserve habitats!

Email for more info: GiannaTylerRUAB@gmail.com

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

DC LEAD: Tackling Hunger & Homelessness (First-Year & New Transfer Students Only)
March 17-23, 2019
Driving (Cost: $400)
Social Issues Focus: Hunger and homelessness, power and privilege

D.C. Lead is an immersive and community building experience that confronts the irony of a high hunger and homelessness rate in our nation’s capital. The cause and effect relationship of poverty and food insecurity with hunger and homelessness is unavoidable. This 45-person, first-year student exclusive trip focuses on empowering students with the leadership skills and social understanding to create positive changes around this pervasive issue. Through intentional activities centered on power and privilege, and service ventures, we imbue participants with the tools necessary to leave a lasting impact within the D.C. and Rutgers communities.

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

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.

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