About Alternative Breaks

Thank you for your interest in Alternative Breaks. Due to COVID-19 there are many unknowns that we are navigating, but Alternative Breaks are still happening! We hope to answer your questions as best we can. 

Our various Alternative Breaks for the 2020-2021 academic year and the corresponding Trip Directors are listed here. Trip “locations” are still listed so that you can see what a typical year would look like; however, Alternative Breaks will not be engaging in any in-person service this fall or in any out-of-state travel this entire academic year. 

This year we will be offering 7 Spring Alternative Breaks. All Alternative Breaks will be primarily, if not completely, virtual. There will be more updates to come about the possibility of including some in-person, local service in the Spring if the circumstances allow

Alternative Breaks are immersive service-learning experiences designed to heighten participants’ awareness of critical social issues, enhance their individual growth, and prepare them for lifelong social action. There are 8 components of an Alternative Break: strong service, alcohol and drug-free, diversity and social justice, orientation, education, training, reflection, and reorientation. While we are unable to travel to various communities this year to engage in hands-on, in-person service, there are still many ways that we can work with some of our longstanding Community Partners from afar and foster new relationships with local communities surrounding UConn and in Connecticut. The “strong service” component may take on more of an advocacy lens in our remote setting, but all eight components will still be present virtually. You can think of Alternative Breaks as service learning groups this year. We hope you’ll join us! 

Please note that we are working on making these trips free of cost to all selected participants. The selection process this year will only consist of an application. There will be no interviews. You can find the application listed here and below. Any applications received after November 13th will be accepted on a rolling basis through Thursday, February 4th at NOON. We will do our best to honor preferences when and where we can but given the nature of rolling applications, we may not be able to honor all preferences (which you can indicate on the application).

All future updates will be posted here. If you have any further questions, please email the Staff Coordinator, Kaitlyn Luft at kaitlyn.luft@uconn.edu. If you have specific questions about any particular trip focus, feel free to reach out to the Trip Director listed here.


2020 – 2021 Alternative Break Trips!
Alternative Breaks: FAQs
Interested in being a Team Leader? Click Here!
Apply for Alternative Break Trips
Fall Weekend, Winter Break, & Spring Break Trip Applications Available 9/7/20
Pay for Your Alt Break Here!

What is an Alternative Break?

Alternative Breaks are service-learning experiences designed to heighten participants’ awareness of critical social issues, enhance their individual growth, and prepare them for lifelong social action. Each weekend or weeklong trip integrates service, reflection and education and focuses on topics as varied as poverty, hunger, housing, and healthcare. Please visit the trip listing page for more specific trip descriptions and information.

What makes these trips “alternative”?

Alternative breaks are just that- an alternative to life on campus. The breaks give students an opportunity to meet new people, learn new things and to step away from traditional learning and living. Alternative Breaks trips are entirely drug and alcohol-free, thus providing an “alternative” option to traditional spring break and weekend activities.


Eight Components of a Quality Alternative Break

Community Outreach uses the following components from our national partner organization, Break Away, to create high-quality, consistent, and meaningful experiences for all of our participants:

Strong Direct Service
Programs provide an opportunity for participants to engage in direct or “hands on” projects and activities that address unmet social needs, as determined by the community. Community interaction during service projects and throughout the week is highly encouraged.
Alcohol and Drug-Free
Issues of community impact, legality, liability, personal safety, and group cohesion are of concern when alcohol and other drugs are consumed on an alternative break.
Diversity and Social Justice
Alternative break programs include participants representing the range of students present in the campus community. Trip Directors recruit for, design, implement, and evaluate their program with this end in mind. Strong programs engage participants in dialogue that furthers understanding of how systems of power, privilege, and oppression relate to social issues present within communities. This deepened awareness enables students to do more responsible, sustainable, and impactful service work.
Prior to departure, participants are oriented to the mission and vision of the community, community partner, or organization(s) with which they will be working.
Effective education provides facts and opinions from all perspectives on the issue, including ways that participants’ personal life choices are connected to the social issue.
Participants are provided with adequate training in skills necessary to carry out tasks and projects during the trip. Ideally this training will take place prior to departure, although in some instances it may occur once participants have reached their site.
During the trip, participants are encouraged to reflect upon the experience they are having, synthesizing the direct service, education, and community interaction
components. Time is set aside for this to take place both individually and as a group.
Upon return to campus, participants transfer the lessons learned on break by identifying local organizations for continued education or service, sharing their experience to raise awareness of social issues, and by organizing or joining other small groups to take action on local issues through direct service, advocacy, and/or philanthropy.


Thank you to our sponsors!