NYU Alternative Breaks
The Alternative Breaks (AB) program provides students with the opportunity to learn about political and social community dynamics while becoming a catalyst for collaborative social change. Through learning and practice, students will explore the theory of integrating service, education, and reflection to create meaningful change in their communities.
In March 2019 over 200 NYU students traveled across the world to spend their winter break or spring break working with various host communities on such issues as poverty alleviation, homelessness, public health, food justice, economic inequality, and the environment.
NYU Alternative Breaks fosters a community of active citizens by challenging participants to engage with social issues through a commitment to social justice education; strong, direct service; and reflection to create meaningful change in their respective communities.
Our vision is to create a community of lifelong active citizens who prioritize the pursuit of social justice: people who value the community as a priority when making life decisions. As part of the Alternative Break experience, participants will become more educated and experienced in all sides of a social issue. Upon return, they will be empowered to make more informed decisions and take meaningful action that supports a greater good. They will become contributing members of society and will weigh in on issues that impact their community.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is an Alternative Break?
Alternative Breaks provide students the opportunity to participate in a year-long experience exploring social, political, and cultural dynamics of a communiy. Through learning and practice, students explore the theory of integrating service, education, and reflection to create meaningful change in their communities.
What trips are being offered for 2022-23?
Morocco: Social Justice & Non-Profit Overview
Costa Rica: Community & Environmental Sustainability
Chicago: Food Insecurity & Urban Sustainability
Florida: Environmental Justice
Boston: Youth Development & Food Insecurity
[Comm*Unity] Atlanta: Refugee Rights
How do I know whether I should apply to become a Site Leader or Participant?
If this is your first experience with Alternative Breaks, co-curricular service learning, or community service, we recommend you apply for a Participant position. However, if you have participated in one of our Alternative Break trips in the past, are familiar with service-learning and possess demonstrated leadership abilities, or have led a community service trip previously, we encourage you to consider applying for a Site Leader position. Site Leader applicants may request to be considered for Participant positions as well.
How do I become a Site Leader or Participant?
Applications to be a participant for the 2022-2023 Academic Year are now open! Applications are due October 30, 2022 at 11:59pm ET.
Site Leaders applications for 2022-2023 closed in late September.
When do the trips happen?
Who will be leading the trip?
Two trained student site leaders lead each trip. International trips have two full-time University administrators attend as well as the two student site leaders. Domestic trips have one full-time University administrator as well as the two student site leaders.
Will I miss days of class?
No. Alternative Breaks are scheduled so that students do not miss class.
How big are the trips?
Trip size varies; on average there are 10 participants and 2 site leaders.
What do the trips cost?
Morocco: Social Justice & Non-Profit Overview | $1500
Costa Rica: Community & Environmental Sustainability | $1600
Chicago: Food Insecurity & Urban Sustainability | Cost $500-$700
Florida: Environmental Justice | Cost $500-$700
Boston: Youth Development & Food Insecurity | Cost $500-$700
[Comm*Unity] Atlanta, GA: Refugee Rights | Cost $500
What immunizations do I need?
You are responsible for talking with your physician and looking on the Center for Disease Control website to make informed choices of which immunizations you will need.
The staff at the NYU Student Health Center Travel Medicine are prepared to provide you with the latest health information and immunization services for your trip. The earlier you prepare for your trip abroad, the better. Please contact Travel Medicine as soon as you know that you are traveling to determine your travel health requirements. We advise you to schedule appointments 4-6 weeks in advance of your trip, if possible. To schedule your Travel Medicine appointment, please call the Student Health Center at 212-443-1188.
Who is eligible to go on an Alternative Break trip?
Only fully matriculated students who are in good standing with the University are able to participate in the Alternative Breaks Program.
Can students with disabilities go on Alternative Breaks?
The Alternative Break program makes every effort to ensure that students with disabilities can participate successfully in Alternative Break programs. Please be aware that we cannot guarantee that facilities or support services will be available at each location in the same range and quality as on the NYU campus. We encourage students with disabilities to meet with staff at the Center for Student Life or the Moses Center for Student Accessibility to discuss accommodation needs and identify appropriate sites.
Why are Alternative Breaks alcohol free?
Alternative Breaks were founded as an alternative to the typical spring break experience. Alcohol affects group dynamics, participant safety, the local community, the University, and the national alternative break student movement. As members of Break Away, we adhere to the 8 Quality Components, including alcohol free breaks.
How do I pay for my Alternative Breaks Experience?
As with any volunteer program, cost is a factor. The Alternative Breaks Program is partially subsidized by the NYU Center for Student Life, but each student accepted into the program must fundraise to help underwrite their experience.
All payments to the Alternative Breaks Program are accepted in cash or check (made out to New York University) at the Service Office in the Center for Student Life. Students may authorize Alternative Breaks to charge their Bursar Account for any amount due.