Alternative Breaks

Our Mission

Alma College Alternative Breaks provide transformative opportunities through direct, hands-on service, education, and reflection that seeks to meet the needs of our local, national, and global community.

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.

Applications for Winter 2020 Breaks are now closed.

Applications are accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis. 

Alternative Winter Break, November 21 - 22 

  • Environmental Stewardship in Midland, Michigan
    • Students will be spending their weekend volunteering with Midland Recyclers, an organization that focuses on environmental protection and education. Tasks will vary over the weekend but may include activities such as sorting or garbage pick-up. All PPE excluding masks will be provided on site. Food and transportation will be organized and provided by the Alternative Breaks program.
  • Environmental Stewardship in Forest Hill, Michigan
    • Students will volunteer at Forest Hill Nature Center by helping with various tasks such as mulching trails, clearing paths, cutting autumn olive, cleaning docks, and seeding. Work boots and gloves are recommended but not required. Food will be provided by the Alternative Breaks program, and transportation will be arranged by Site Leaders.
  • Animal Welfare at the Gratiot County Animal Shelter in Ithaca, Michigan
    • Students will assist the Gratiot County Animal Shelter with general maintenance and potentially dog walking and cat kennel cleaning. Students are required to bring their own masks along with clothes that can get dirty! Food will be provided by the Alternative Breaks program, and transportation will be arranged by Site Leaders.
  • Local Engagement in Alma, Michigan
    • Students will stay on campus and partner with City Commissioners to do outdoor work for local residents. Students may also work together to make care packages for students staying on campus during Winter Break or local projects.

If you have questions, contact Maddie Wentworth at or visit her office located in the Center for Student Opportunity.