The Edward Ginsberg Center for Community Service and Learning

Students posing in front of Alternative Spring Break table at Festifall

An alternative break is an experience where a group of college students (usually 10-12 per trip) engage in an immersive community service experience.  Alternative breaks occur during students’ fall, winter, weekend, or summer school breaks, and are drug and alcohol-free experiences, with a heavy emphasis on group and individual reflection. University of Michigan students been traveling locally, nationally and internationally, engaging in community service efforts that contribute to meaningful social change since 1989.

Alternative break experiences can challenge students to critically think about and address important social issues. After having an Alternative Break experiences, participants often seek to continue their activism on campus, in their own communities, and in partnership with other communities. The University of Michigan actively promotes Break Away's Active Citizens Continuum, hoping that students, as a result of their Alternative Break experience, will move to being an active citizen, a person who values and prioritizes community.

Alternative Breaks can be a great vehicle for service-learning and civic engagement for students, and can be utilized by student organizations and part of academic courses. To meet with the Alternative Breaks coordinator, click here

Is your organization going on an alternative break in the spring, summer, fall or winter?  Let us know by telling us about your trip and gaining access to resources!

Currently at the University of Michigan, there are 4 ways to get involved with an alternative break: 

University of Michigan Alternative Spring Break

The University of Michigan's Alternative Spring Break is a SERVE-sponsored program that offers a community service-learning experience during the traditional Spring Break of the academic calendar. Students spend the year learning about the culture and history of a particular area, community, and issue. During spring break, groups travel by road to a selected site to engage in meaningful action towards a greater understanding of root causes of relevant issues. Students participate in critical reflection and analysis of social justice issues they experience first-hand.

Past and present ASB sites have included delivering meals to AIDS patients in New York City, repairing homes damaged in natural disasters, engaging with youth in Chicago, working with the Sioux nation in South Dakota, learning about sustainable agriculture in Texas, and a community non-violence program in Detroit.

Student organizations and learning communities can apply for a collaborative site with UM Alternative Spring Break. Applications are live every spring, and you can find more information here.

Click here to visit the University of Michigan Alternative Spring Break website.


University of Michigan Alternative Summer Break

Alternative Summer Break, ASuB, is a student-run organization sponsored by the SERVE Office in the Ginsberg Center for Community Service and Learning. Ginsberg Center's mission is to foster, through community service and social action, a student movement at the University of Michigan that thoughtfully addresses the challenges we face as a society. ASuB is directed by a leadership team responsible for site development, education & training, finance & fundraising, and public relations. ASuB's leadership team is responsible for contacting and selecting sites, creating a budget, planning fundraising activities, and recruitment of participants. Each year, ASuB typically sends approximately 40 University of Michigan student volunteers to 4-5 different sites across the continent.

Click here to visit the University of Michigan Alternative Summer Break website.


Creating an alternative break for your student organization or group

The SERVE Office in the Ginsberg Center has an Alternative Breaks coordinator who advises, leads trainings, and provides resources for groups interested in facilitating their own alternative break trip. If you’re the volunteer/service chair of your student group, or if you’re looking to create an immersive, fun, service-learning experience for your group, set up a meeting with the Alternative Breaks coordinator here. The coordinator can assist you in finding a community organization that is tied to your organization’s or group’s mission, funding your alternative break, and coordinating a purposeful learning experience for your members. The Ginsberg Center also offers grants for student groups looking to create an alternative break. Learn more about the Alternative Break Grants here


Planning a short-term service experience for yourself during a University break
Are you interested in engaging in service as an individual during a University break, but you’re not sure how to get started? Set up an advising session with the alternative breaks coordinator for a time to learn more about how, where, and when you’d like to engage in service.