Alternative Service Experiences/Alternative Break

In the past 20 years the alternative break movement has grown extensively on colleges and universities throughout the state of North Carolina and the nation.  In June 2013, NC Campus Compact hosted an Alternative Service Experiences Institute, convening administrators, faculty, staff, and students, representing 25 campuses in 8 states, for two days to explore topics related to alternative breaks and short-term service experiences. The event was hosted by High Point University. Click here to dowload the Institute program booklet.

As a result of the Institute, participants requested that we create a resource page to provide ongoing support.  This is a work in progress.  Please send any tools/resources to Leslie Garvin for inclusion. 

Tools and Resources

Breakaway the Alternative Break Connection, Inc - is the national nonprofit organization that supports the development of quality alternative break programs by providing training and information primarily to colleges, universities, and nonprofit organizations interested in creating lifelong active citizens through these intensive service-learning programs.

See results of Break Away's national survey of alternative break programs (2014).  

Guide to Planning an Alternative Break Trip (manual) - American University, Office of Campus Life Community Service Center


Building a Better World: The Pedagogy and Practice of Global Service-Learning  blog

"Alternative Break Programs: From Isolated Enthusiasm to Best Practices: The Haiti Compact" by Jill Piacitelli, Molly Barwick, Elizabeth Doerr, Melody Porter, Shoshanna Sumkafrom the May 2013 edition of the Journal of Higher Education Outreach & Engagement (Volume 17(2), May 2013).

"Alternative Break Programs and the Factors that Contribute to Changes in Students' Lives" - 2012 dissertation of Dr. Elizabeth Niehaus.  

The Meaning Students Make as Participants in Short-Term Immersion Programs, by Susan R. Jones, Heather T. Rowan-Kenyon, S. Mei-Yen Ireland, Elizabeth Niehaus, Kristan Cilente Skendall from the Journal of College Student Development, Volume 53, Number 2, (March/April 2012) pp. 201-220 | 10.1353/csd.2012.0026

Presentations from the 3rd Annual Conference on International Service Learning: Advancing Research and Practice in February 2008 sponsored by IUPUI 

"A Chameleon with a Complex: Searching for Transformation in International Service-Learning," by Richard Kiely, from the Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, Volume 10, Issue 2, (Spring 2004)


International Service Learning: Conceptual Frameworks and Research (IUPUI Series on Service Learning Research) [Paperback]  Edited by Robert G. Bringle, Julie A. Hatcher, Steven G. Jones (2010)

Organizations that Facilitate ASB Partnerships and Projects*

Cross-Cultural Solutions

Habitat for Humanity: Collegiate Challenge

Jewish National Fund

Projects Abroad

United Way Alternative Spring Break


*As some of these entities are for-profit, NC Campus Compact is in no way endorsing their services by including them in this list.


Created with flickr slideshow.

Highlights from the ASE Institute, June 18-19,2013

Roundtable Discussions

During the Tuesday night Opening Reception, participants engaged in conversations related to alternative break programming including marketing/recruitment, fundraising, risk & liability, best practices, and challenges.  Download the discussion highlights here.

"Destinations" Exercise

Throughout the two days participants plotted the locations where their campus travelled for alternative service experiences in the 2012-13 academic year. Click here for the summary.  

Special Guests

Dr. Elizabeth Niehauscreator and principal investigator with the National Survey of Alternative Breaks,  shared her current findings in this cutting edge longitudinal study exploring the following questions.

  • To what extent and in what ways do AB experiences influence students’ lives, both immediately after the experience and over the long-term?
  • What specific factors within the AB experience facilitate these influences on students’ lives? What can practitioners do before, during, and (perhaps even more importantly) after the AB experience to encourage this long-term impact?
  • What, if any, differences are there between international and domestic AB experiences?

She also facilitated the workshop "Why do you do what you do? Connecting your Program to your Institutional MIssion through Learning Outcomes and Assessment."  In August Dr. Niehaus will be joining the faculty in the department of Educational Administration at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln as an Assistant Professor.

Shoshanna Sumka, Assistant Director for Global Learning and Leadership at American University, and Melody Porter, Associate Director of the Office of Community Engagement at the College of William and Mary, facilitated sessions on "Developing Domestic Community Partnerships for Mutual Benefit", and "Alternative Breaks:  Working for Social Justice."

Planning Committee

• Selena Hilemon, Appalachian State University, Assistant Director of Community Service, A.C.T.
• Christa  Leimbach, Davidson College, Assistant  Director for Civic Engagement Programs
• Evan Small,  Elon University, Programs Coordinator, Kernodle Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement
• Adam Culley, NC State University, Assistant Director, Center for Student Leadership Ethics and Public Service
• Jessica Lynn, Executive Director, Executive Director, South Carolina Campus Compact
• Jaime Russell,  UNC Wilmington, Assistant Director, Center for Leadership Education and Service
• Jennifer  Cooper, Western Carolina University, Assistant Director, Center for Service Learning

Convener: Leslie Garvin, Associate Director, NC Campus Compact