Alternative Breaks


No matter what your interest is, there is an Alternative Break opportunity for you.

Alternative Breaks allow students to spend time doing service work while traveling outside the community. This may involve providing childcare in a homeless shelter or being involved in disaster relief efforts. Whatever you’re doing, you’ll have fun while reflecting on what is important to you in life.

What is Alternative Break like?

Most service teams include 8 to 12 people, except when partnering with agencies that provide bus transportation and encourage larger groups of volunteers. Each team has a staff advisor and student leaders. Prior to departure, the entire team meets regularly to better understand what to expect on the trip.

Not surprisingly, Alternative Break opportunities have been well received by Alma College students and staff. The program has grown from a single trip of 20 participants in 2003 to over 100 participants each academic year.

In addition to learning about social issues, Alternative Break participants experience the local culture at their destination. Each service opportunity includes time to sight see, enjoy a local restaurant, or relax with friends. Alternative Breaks encourages full engagement through living and eating simply, limiting technology and being alcohol- and drug-free. Curious about what Alternative Break is like? Ask one of the student leaders listed below.

Multiple Alternative Break opportunities are offered to students during academic breaks. With a significant subsidy from the Responsible Leadership Institute (RLI), these service experiences are available at affordable costs for travel, room and board.

What are the potential social issues and community partners for the 2019/20 year? (this is a work in progress!)

Alternative Fall Break - Keeping It In The Mitten - October 12-15

Register for Alternative Fall Break by October 6 here.

Note that applications will be assessed in the order received and some sites may reach capacity before the deadline. Make the most of your break by signing up for one, two, or three days of service, depending on your availability and interests.

  • Forest Hill Nature Preserve, Gratiot County, Saturday October 12, 12:30 - 3:30pm
    • The Forest Hill Nature Area is land that has been set aside for the preservation and appreciation of the natural world. The nature area has walking trails through 90 acres and provides outdoor education field trips for many students in Gratiot, Isabella and Montcalm counties. Possible service projects include adding wood chips to trails, removing invasive plants, staining bridges, or collecting walnuts.

  • William and Janet Strickler Nonprofit Center, Mount Pleasant, Monday October 14, 9:00 am - 12:00 pm.
    • The Center fosters strong collaboration among key social service agencies in a shared physical space to reduce poverty levels in Isabella County over time. Partner agencies include The Care Store, Clothing INC, and the Community Compassion Network. Possible service projects include sorting donations, stocking shelves, and assisting in the food pantry and infant needs pantry.
  • Wilcox Nonprofit Center and RISE Advocacy, Alma, MI, Tuesday October 15, 9:00 am - 12:00 pm.
    • Serve your community right here in Alma in cooperation with the Wilcox Nonprofit Center and RISE Advocacy Inc. RISE provides free advocacy, counseling, and support services to survivors of domestic abuse and human trafficking, as well as children, family, and friends of survivors. The Wilcox Nonprofit Center is home to a variety of community agencies. Possible service projects include sorting donations.


Alternative Holiday Break: December 15-22 (travel days will vary)

Online applications available soon

  • Immigration and the Migrant Experience, El Paso, TX
  • Additional sites pending


Alternative Spring Break: To Be Determined

If you have questions, contact Carla Jensen at (989) 463-7421 or visit her office located in the Center for Student Opportunity.