Alternative Breaks

About Alternative Breaksaltbreak1

Alternative Breaks are student-led community engagement programs that promote student leadership, equality, ethical volunteering, and social justice. These programs aim to equip students with the tools, resources, and experience to be effective leaders and allies within their local and global communities.

Student groups partner with local and global initiatives on a variety of social justice issues, from access to medical care to housing inequity. Participants learn from and engage with communities near and far, while building knowledge and skills that will inform their futures.

Our Role

The Brandeis Department of Community Service offers a number of resources for club leaders and student volunteers including pre and post trip trainings and reflections, risk management information session and group teambuilding. Additionally, this webpage has resources that cover all things service-related to help prepare and support you for the variety of experiences and emotions you might encounter in your volunteering. Never hesitate to stop by our office to use these resources or find support!

Club Leader Resources

Alternative Break Handbook
A one stop shop for alternative break leaders! This handbook includes guidelines on topics including university requirements, logistics, planning, reflection, and risk management. It also includes sample participant applications, reflection questions, and more.

Alternative Break Need-Based Financial Assistance Request Form A form for undergraduate trip members to fill out and submit to the Program Coordinator for Service Initiatives to apply for need-based travel support for Alternative Break Trips. Graduate students do not qualify for this need-based trip funding provided by the undergraduate Student Union.

Document Checklist
Keep track of what important documents you need to collect as a coordinator.

Department of Community Service Waiver
Any student who volunteers MUST fill out a Student Waiver and Release of Liability form. Participants who have volunteered before their trip may have already completed this form.

Trip Consent Form 
This form includes a trip-specific agreement to abide by the Student Rights and Community Standards and release of liability. All participants must complete this form.

Community Service and Learning Agreement
Complete this agreement with your community partner, with help from the Department of Community Service. This document clarifies the responsibilities and rights of Brandeis and your community partner.

Pre-Departure Form 
This form should be completed prior to the pre-departure meeting with Department of Community Service staff, at least one month before your departure.

Incident Report
This report will only be necessary in case of an accident or if an unforeseen circumstance arises during your trip. Coordinators should review this form and save it to their shared folders in case it is needed.

Trip Summary Form : Fill out this form at the end of your trip to reflect on and tell others a little bit about your experience!

Break Away Website– email for login information.
This national membership-based organization provides useful information for alternative break coordinators, including sample documents from universities across the country and a domestic housing database.

Student Engagement Resources
Your toolkit for any service activities. Find resources on topics like relationship-building, funding, and professionalism in volunteering.

Recent Alternative Breaks:

FIMRC – Peru

FIMRC (Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children) is an organization that travels world-wide to support and promote children's health. The Brandeis chapter aids these efforts by raising funds, performing community service projects related to health, and traveling to various locales to aid in providing international relief and children's aid.

In the Spring of 2017, they traveled to La Merced in Peru. Their service there focused on first aid education, sex education, maternal health, and health education with children.

“I personally loved the interaction I had with the local community in La Merced and learning about the history and the culture around town. We had a lot of free time outside of shadowing doctors and working on projects with the FIMRC crew during the day, and we did a lot of exploration on our own in town and being exposed to the Peruvian culture. Each project site's mission in FIMRC is specific to that local community, and very much catered to the needs of the local community.” –Candice Jiang (Trip Participant and a 2017-2018 FIRMC coordinator)

Service Without Borders: VINE - Vermont


VINE Sanctuary in Vermont provides a safe haven for animals who have escaped or been rescued from the meat, dairy and egg industries or other abusive circumstances. They are an organization dedicated to advocating for animal and environmental rights. During this trip, Service Without Borders volunteers helped preparing the farm for the winter by cleaning the animals' space and aiding with all the required work at the farm.

Service Without Borders: Camp Sunshine - Maine

altbreak5Camp Sunshine, located in Casco, ME, supports children with life threatening illnesses and their families. Families with a child diagnosed with diseases such as cancer, kidney disease, lupus, solid organ transplants, and other life-threatening illness attend one of the week-long camps. The focus is on alleviating the strain that a life-threatening illness takes not only on the sick child but also on other family members. Families have an opportunity to rebuild their relationships together and meet other families facing similar challenges. During this trip, Service Without Borders participated at Camp Sunshine as group and one-on-one counselors as well as food service volunteers.

Service Without Borders: Iniciativa Comuniataria – Puerto Rico

altbreak6Iniciativa Comunitaria is a non-profit organization that strives to bring compassion and equality for individual suffering social exclusion. Most individuals are low-income and either have a taboo illness (AIDS/HIV), live in underdeveloped neighborhoods with much violence, or are homeless. During this trip, Service Without Borders prepared activities for women in a detox center and aided with the infrastructure of the facilities at Iniciativa Comunitaria.

Upcoming Alternative Breaks: 2018 - 2019
For more information, please email Will Brummett

February Trips - 

Global Medical Brigades: Honduras chapter, Honduras

Global Business Brigades: Honduras chapter, Honduras, 

Service Without Borders, 7elements, Dominican Republic

Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County, Winston-Salem, NC


April Trips (Trips are full) - 

Service Without Borders, Cooperative Metro Ministries, Boston

Habitat for Humanity, Eastern Shore of Virginia Habitat Chapter, Exmore, VA

Summer Trips (TBD)- 

YourStory International, Haiti