Alternative Breaks

Serve. Learn. Discover.


Come learn about the GW Alternative Breaks Program! The program features 12 domestic and international community service and service-learning trips that provide students the opportunity to become active citizen leaders, while building lasting connections with people from various communities. Applications for Winter and Spring trips will open in early September! 

Winter Trip Application due Wednesday, September 26th, 2018.
Spring Trip Application due Monday, October 1st, 2018.

About Alternative Breaks


The mission of the GW Alternative Breaks Program is to empower and challenge students to understand their role as proponents of democratic citizenship in the world through direct and indirect service, service-learning, and reflection, while encouraging personal growth, social awareness, and active citizenship. Alternative Breaks provides the opportunity for students to explore community service in local, national, and international settings, fostering a Serve, Learn, Discover mentality.


GW Alternative Breaks seeks to inspire active citizenship, a curiousness about the world, and to ask critical questions about unequal systems in our society, and how our values can drive us to change them.


Social Justice: building toward a society that values dignity and equality, and that allows all individuals to reach their full potential

Active Citizenship: prioritizing community in values and life choices, and serving in groups to achieve shared goals; continuing advocacy, service, and philanthropy after alternative breaks end to further promote community goals and address social issues

Intentionality: ensuring alignment of mission, vision, and values in all our practices; creating high-quality experiences that develop active citizenship and meet community goals

Inclusion: creating a safe and welcoming community for all; ensuring accessibility to programs for a diversity of participants

Collective Leadership: recognizing and utilizing the unique contributions of each person at all levels of the program; creating conditions to empower all to serve together toward shared goals
Good-naturedness: honoring the humanity of each person through humor and encouragement; incorporating warmth and care for community in all processes
Mutually-Beneficial Partnerships: supporting community-driven social change while students learn and are challenged in community settings; serving in solidarity with community partners and members; developing active citizenship in all those involved
Sustainability: serving toward long-term community partnerships and relationships; retaining and developing student leaders within the program; reducing and offsetting negative environmental impacts; practicing simplicity in budgeting, housing choices, and food, as a way of being in solidarity with
community members
Graphic for Values of Alternative Breaks program
Our program offers 12 community service trips to both domestic and international locations. Each trip has its own unique service area, from sustainability to education to community development. The pre-trip education component allows for GW students to become informed about the community and issue area they will be working with. Most trips feature service activities during the day, and group bonding and cultural activities in the evenings. GW Alternative Breaks offers students the opportunity to be active citizens and leaders while building lasting connections with people from various communities through a mutually-beneficial experience.

Fall Trip: October 6th - 9th

Baltimore, MD: Homelessness & Food Insecurity

AFB Baltimore 2017

Baltimore is currently experiencing unprecedented rates of homelessness. With more than 30,000 individuals who will experience homelessness this year, there is a dire need for both action and understanding of the situation and its causes. In combination with individuals experiencing homelessness, many also suffer from food insecurity. AFB Baltimore seeks to explore the complexities of these social issues through hands-on service with lcoal partner sites that focus on these issue areas. Participants on AFB Baltimore will also explore the cultural aspects of the city, from the inner harbor to Little Italy!

Participant Cost: $100

Number of Participants: 10+

Fundraising Effort: Low

Trip Leaders: Jocelyn Lobos & Kanchan Misra

Questions? Contact us at [email protected]!


Winter Trips: January 5th - 12th

Washington, DC: Domestic Violence & Sexual Health

Participants in Washington D.C. Alternative Breaks trip

Experience DC in a new way! AWB DC presents the unique opportunity to give back to your own community and learn about the issue areas of domestic violence and sexual health while initiating lasting relationships with local organizations. We partner with organizations who provide services and support to a wide range of individuals in the local DC area. The trip also allows participants to engage with the GW community, as they learn more about resources offered on campus and effective ways to spread awareness about sexual assault. In addition to partnering with organizations in the immediate area, we will explore and learn more about the culture of our great city.

Participant Cost: $100

Number of Participants: 12

Fundraising Effort: Low

Trip Leaders: Stevie Shapiro

Questions? Contact us at [email protected]!


El Paso, TX & Ciudad Juarez, Mexico: Immigration & Border Community Rights

AWB El Paso

El Paso, Texas is part of a binational metropolitan area with significant shared heritage between the United States and Mexico. Through a week long border immersion program, our group will be learning firsthand the intricacies of life in both El Paso and Ciudad Juarez, life on the border, and the depth of U.S. immigration issues. We will be working with Cristo Rey, a local ministry, as well as connecting with community members, advocacy groups, and policymakers. The border immersion program includes meeting with members of the Cristo Rey community, experiencing Mexican and Mexican-American culture, planning and facilitating activities for Cristo Rey's After School Program, meeting with border patrol, and more. This trip highlights some of the many diverse facets and complexities of immigration.

Participant Cost: $600

Number of Participants: 10

Fundraising Effort: High

Trip Leaders: Natalie Lalama & Lucy Rowing

Questions? Contact us at [email protected]!


Immokalee, FL: Migrant Worker Rights & Food Justice

Participants in Immokalee Alternative Breaks trip

The Alternative Break Trip to Immokalee, Florida will focus on the advocacy of migrant workers' rights and food justice. We will be working with community organizations, such as the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, to make meaningful connections with the community as well as learn more about the issues of farm working conditions, unfair wages, and fair food practices. Participants will gain a new perspective on the social injustices that arise for farm workers and what initiatives are being implemeneted in order to address these issues. Additionally, we will get the chance to experience the rich culture in Immokalee. 

Participant Cost: $400

Number of Participants: 10

Fundraising Effort: Medium

Trip Leaders: Teniola Balogun & Esther Park

Questions? Contact us at [email protected]!


Tahlequah, OK: Native American Education & Culture

Participants in Cherokee Nation Alternative Breaks trip

Despite countless hardships and difficult history, Cherokee Nation maintains a strong sense of community and culture and strives for a brighter future. During our trip to Tahlequah, Oklahoma, we will volunteer at Cherokee Nation Head Start, a federally funded program dedicated to promoting school readiness in children, ages 0-5, who may be economically disadvantaged. The program eases the transition from preschool and prepares the children to succeed in elementary school while incorporating Cherokee language culture in the classroom to pass on the Cherokee culture to future generations. Participants will be immersed in the Cherokee culture by visiting the Cherokee Heritage Center and Cherokee history museums, taking part in cultural activities such as weaving baskets, playing stickball, and eating fry bread while learning from Cherokee people of all different backgrounds about their way of life, language, and community within the Nation.

Participant Cost: $400

Number of Participants: 10

Fundraising Effort: Medium

Trip Leaders: Katie Daugherty & Jason Starita

Questions? Contact us at [email protected]!


Las Marias, Puerto Rico: Sustainable Agriculture

Participants Puerto Rico Alternative Breaks trip

AWB Puerto Rico participants will be working on an organic farm, Plenitud Eco-Educational Initiative, to learn about sustainable farming practices, including bio-construction, permaculture, and composting. In addition to participating in local activities and working with the farm team, we hope to see the role of sustainability in food production, resource consumption, and waste management up close and learn ways in which these sustainable techniques can be transferred back to and implemented in our own homes.

Participant Cost: $800

Number of Participants: 15

Fundraising Effort: High

Trip Leaders: Regan McAllister, Jeslyn Zakes & Sam Foreman

Questions? Contact us at [email protected]!


Los Angeles, CA: Youth Empowerment & Mass Incarceration

Participants in LA Alternative Breaks trip

The Alternative Winter Break trip to Los Angeles will focus on exploring the culture of the massive and diverse city of L.A. while learning about issue areas unique to a community with no single ethnic majority. The trip will focus on youth empowerment in Los Angeles, in particular, education and gang-violence through our work with The Garage Boardshop. AWB LA will prompt participants to gain new perspectives on mass incarceration, prison reform, and the dynamic social makeup of LA. AWB LA will also encourage participants to draw connections between the social issues of LA and their academic and personal studies. If you are excited to learn more about some of the systemic issues that have led to mass incarceration, gang involvement, or the education gap, this trip is for you!

Participant Cost: $600

Number of Participants: 10

Fundraising Effort: High

Trip Leaders: Hana Kim

Questions? Contact us at [email protected]!


Spring Trips: March 9th - 16th

Kanab, UT: Animal Advocacy & Environmental Conservation

AWB Utah

During our trip to Kanab, Utah, we will not only discover the beauty of the local national and state parks through hiking but also learn from the rangers themselves as they speak on the difficulties and importance of the conservation of our nation's parks. Participants will also be working with Best Friends Animal Society, the largest animal sanctuary in the United States, as they work to create a world with "No More Homeless Pets." We will interact with the animals and learn about advocating for their rights. If you love animals and nature, or you would like to learn more about either, this is the trip for you!

Participation Cost: $600

Number of Participants: 10

Fundraising Effort: Medium 

Trip Leaders: Marietta DeJulio-Burns & Annalise Morrone

Questions? Contact us at [email protected]!


Los Santos, Costa Rica: Community Development & Sustainable Agriculture

Costa Rica trip participants

This week-long trip will include a number of projects focused on sustainable development with the community-based organization, Green Communities in Los Santos, Costa Rica. Some of the projects may include working on organic coffee farms to remove pesticides from the environment or construction throughout the community with eco-bricks. In addition to service projects, the trip will include a variety of cultural activities, like a soccer match against the local team and a cooking lesson with the women of the community. Together, these service projects and cultural activities provide students with a unique experience that exposes them to local community development and engagement.

Participant Cost: $800

Number of Participants: 10

Fundraising Effort: High

Trip Leaders: Meredith Prescott & Isa Zambrano

Questions? Contact us at [email protected]!


New Orleans, LA: Disaster Relief & Community Building


As GW Alternative Breaks' oldest and largest service trip, ASB New Orleans focuses on the issue areas of disaster relief, community building, and urban restoration all in a week-long trip with 52 members of the GW community. Serve, learn, and discover in this southern city that is still experiencing the effects of Hurricane Katrina over 10 years ago but thrives on its rich and lively culture. NOLA participants will work with community partners from Habitat for Humanity, New Orleans to build houses for future home-owners and with The Green Project to repurpose and recycle reusable building materials. Participants also have the opportunity to experience the culture of nearby communities through visits to the French Quarter, tastes of local restaurants, and a trip to Rock-n-Bowl. Join us for an exciting and service-filled trip this upcoming Spring BREAK!

Participation: $400

Number of Participants: 45

Fundraising Effort: Medium

Trip Leaders: Drew Chang, Gia Mancini, Mitchel Oertel, & Nicolette Santos

Questions? Contact us at [email protected]!


Philadelphia, PA: Public Health

Participants on Philadelphia Alternative Breaks trip

ASB Philadelphia focuses on the issue area of public health as it relates to an urban environment. This service-learning trip to Philadelphia will involve working with community partners who serve local communities with a public health-related mission. Participants will learn about the intersections of topic areas, including how public health affects groups differently and their access to community resources. Not only will participants learn about a broad range of issue areas, but through reflection and the exploration of Philadelphia and its vibrant culture, they will discover ways to better understand communities in which they serve. Join us for an exciting Spring Break service experience!

Participation Cost: $250 

Number of Participants: 10

Fundraising Effort: Medium 

Trip Leaders: Sam Chuan & India-Grace Kellogg

Questions? Contact us at [email protected]!


Atlanta, GA: Refugee Resettlement

ASB Atlanta

Every year, the United States provides safety and new oppurtunities for tens of thousands of refugees. AWB Atlanta will contribute to this effort through participation in various projects aimed at serving the refugee community and aiding their transition to America. Serving in Atlanta will not only benefit the large refugee community there, but it will also give participants a new understanding of the challenges faced by these people who come here to restart their lives.

Participant Cost: $400

Number of Participants: 10

Fundraising Effort: Medium

Trip Leaders: Quinn Brossay & Fatoumata Kaba

Questions? Contact us at [email protected]!


Frequently Asked Questions

Who can participate in GW Alternative Breaks?

GW Alternative Breaks are open to all enrolled George Washington University undergraduate and graduate students. Students going abroad in the Spring are eligible to apply for Winter trips. Students graduating in December are not eligible to participate in our trips. GW faculty and staff members can participate as learning partners.

Do I need community service experience to apply?

No! GW Alternative Breaks is open to all students regardless of community service experience. 

How many trips are there?

There are 12 trips total: 1 Fall trip, 6 Winter trips, and 5 Spring trips.

How many students are on each trip?

Trips vary in size from 10 student participants to 45 student participants. Each trip also has anywhere from 2-4 student leaders and 1-2 faculty/staff members depending on the location. 

What are the dates for this year's trips?

Fall trip: October 6th - 9th

Winter trips: January 5th - 12th

Spring trips: March 9th - 16th

How do I apply for Alternative Breaks?

The application for our Fall break trip is released every August, and the applications for Winter and Spring Break trips are released every September. Winter and Spring Break trip applications are currently live and will close later this month. Check out our Facebook page for the most recent updates.

What is the weekly time commitment required for Alternative Breaks participants?

In addition to the trip itself, participants are required to attend weekly trip meetings and fundraisers. Weekly trip meetings are about an hour long and consist of pre-trip education and logistics. The number of fundraisers varies weekly per trip and is based on the amount of fundraising required. 

How much do Alternative Break trips cost?

Participant costs vary per trip. The participant cost listed for each trip above is the amount trip participants are required to pay out of pocket. This cost covers transportation, accomodation, meals, and cultural activities. The remainder of the trip cost is fundraised. The amount of fundraising required also varies by trip and the amount of effort required is listed on the trip page. Souvenirs and other personal costs are to be covered by the participant and are not included in the participant cost. 

Is financial assistance available?

Yes. The GW Alternative Breaks Program offers a scholarship program to cover part of the participant cost. The scholarship program is offered to the highest scoring applicants on an essay based application that is released in the Fall. 



It is our aim to make Alternative Breaks trip as financially accessible as possible. As a reminder, scholarships will cover half of the participant fee, regardless of trip destination. 

Please answer all essay questions as thoughtful and honestly as possible- both authenticy of answers and expressed financial need will be considered when reviewing applications. 

If you have any questions, or need clarification on this process, please feel free to email us at [email protected]


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