Skip to main content

Community Engagement & Service

alt break lead photo

 Alternative Breaks are student-led service-learning immersion programs that promote student leadership, equality, ethical volunteering, and social justice by cultivating a society of active citizens with the tools, resources, and experience to be effective leaders and allies within their local and global communities.

Student groups partner with community initiatives on a variety of social justice issues, from immigration rights to environmental protection and defense of freedom and human rights to race/gender/identity issues. Direct engagement occurs in locations across the globe and students have an opportunity to learn from community leaders ranging from India and Guatemala to San Francisco and Baltimore. 

While orientation, reorientation, and activism activities occur year-round, the direct engagement component of the programs takes place during the winter, spring, and summer breaks. Student leaders facilitate the experience from beginning to end under the guidance of a staff or faculty adviser, making Alternative Breaks unique opportunities for students in a world classroom.

If you're interested in engaging your local and global communities through service, activism, academic inquiry, and leadership, then feel free to explore these pages, contact us with questions, and apply by the posted deadlines. We look forward to you joining us in learning about social justice issues and critically reflecting on our role in the world community.

Attend a future leader workshop!

If you're interested in applying to lead an Alternative Break for the 2016-2017 year, attendance is mandatory at one of these future leader workshops. While past participation on an Alternative Break is encouraged, it is not required; we will also consider potential leaders who have had comparable service, travel, and social justice experience. 

The future leader workshop will take place:

Wednesday, March 23rd, with two sessions (7 to 8 pm, or 8 to 9 pm) in Butler Conference Room. 


We look forward to seeing you there! If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to Kim at

Travel Grants

 If you need assistance to pay for a program, you can apply for a travel grant.

Travel grant applications are reviewed for financial need level and quality of essay response. You will be notified if you receive a grant before you have to make the first payment installment to hold your spot on the program. The grant will reduce the final amount of the program - it is not applicable to the first payment.

$100 to $500 per person available!  Applications open January 12 for summer programs, and are due February 4th (the same day as participant applications). 

Some students, depending on their individual aid packages, may be able to use their Financial Aid to pay for the program if they do the one credit option (SIS 386: Selected Topics in Global Social Justice).

Contact the Alternative Break program for details. 

Apply now for a travel grant

Contact Us

 For more information, please contact:

Christine Gettings

Assistant Director, Global Learning and Leadership

Center for Community Engagement and Service

273 Mary Graydon Center

Ph: 202.885.2684

Contact Christine


Applications are now open for students who are interested in being Alt Break Student Leaders for the 2016-2017 academic year.

The preliminary application, a Request for Proposal, is due April 15 (5 pm) for winter/spring programs and June 24 (11:59 pm) for summer 2017 programs. The application is available on EngageNet via your AU Student Portal.

Additional dates and deadlines are available on the Leader Resources page.

Apply to lead now!

Learn more


We offer over a dozen programs focused on social justice issues as diverse as immigration reform to race relations, queer homelessness, voting rights, post-conflict recovery, and more.

Alternative Breaks are year-long commitments. Orientation, reorientation, and a activism projects take place during the school year while direct engagement takes place over spring, summer, or winter breaks in a variety of locations from Vietnam, Brazil, DC, Baltimore, and more. 

Explore our programs

Make an e-payment!

The payment schedule for 2016 is as follows:


Final payments due January 25


First payment due February 22

Second payment due March 18

Third payment due April 22

Click here

Connect with us!

Important Information: Read Before Traveling

Alternative Breaks are challenging! Please read the following information to learn more about challenges for all trips and those specifically for international trips.

Read Travel Info

Events Calendar RSS

Full Calendar