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Community Engagement & Service

lead a summer alt brkk

 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.

Recent News

tamil nadu 2016 tamil nadu 2016

Our summer participants who travelled to India, Rwanda, and Texas are back!

Our participants who travelled to Tamil Nadu, India, learned about education, equity, and empowerment by working with the community partner Communities Rising. During their 3 week stay, they helped this NGO put on a summer camp for Dalit children. Thank you so much to Communities Rising for hosting AU students. Learn more about the summer camp program by clicking the link to read the newsletter!

Learn more

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


The preliminary application, a Request for Proposal, is due on June 24th at 11:59 pmfor summer 2017 programs (2016-2017 academic year).

Leader applications are closed for winter/spring 2016-2017 programs.

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

Coming Soon

  1. CBL Fac Institute Reunion

  2. CBL Faculty Brunch

  3. Alt Break Active Citizen Day - Breakouts

Full Calendar