Alternative Breaks Program

About Alternative Breaks

Alternative Spring Break (ASB) trips allow students to dive deeper into exploring a social issue of interest to them through a community-oriented lens. While getting to know a community in a week may be difficult, volunteering facilitates building relationships with locals, and students not only learn about a place from those who live there, but also participate in community-led action alongside community members. As outsiders visiting a new place, ASB places emphasis on partnering with organizations with established roots in their communities who center their missions around the voices of community members and supports the organizations’ existing efforts in their community. Beyond their service experience, ASB participants explore a new city or country, become part of a team with whom they travel, share meals, and reflect, and develop lasting skills and connections. 


Alternative Weekend trips: 3-4 days in November (volunteer applications open end of August with a priority deadline of end of October – after priority deadline, applications are accepted on a rolling basis)

Alternative Spring Break trips: entire Spring Break in March (volunteer applications open end of August with a priority deadline of end of October – after priority deadline, applications are accepted on a rolling basis)

Alternative Breaks offers Northeastern students the chance to participate in weekend and weeklong service and learning experiences. Students volunteer with community organizations – in the United States and around the world – that address critical social issues, such as affordable housing, environmental conservation, youth education, and sustainable agriculture. Through meaningful action, reflection, and education, our volunteers explore new places and cultures, work with people from different communities, and build problem-solving and leadership skills for the future.

2024 Alternative Spring Break Trips:

Local TripsCommunity Servings (Boston, Massachusetts) 
Domestic Trips 
Bread for the City (Washington, D.C.) 
Camino Health Center (North Carolina)
Camillus House (Miami, Florida)
Peaceable Kingdom Retreat (Killeen, Texas) 
National Park Service at Saguaro (Tucson, Arizona) 
Lifelong (Seattle, Washington) 
Global Trips 7 Elements (Dominican Republic) 
 Tandana Foundation (Ecuador) 

Alternative Weekends 

Alternative Weekends (AW) trips are centered around a more local community organization and their work. AW teams volunteer regularly with their service partner to learn about the social issues affecting the local community and support the organization’s efforts. AW teams supplement their service experience with educational and recreational activities, such as museum visits, hikes, and community events. AW Team Leaders facilitate daily reflection discussions to create space for their team to share their perspectives on the day’s experiences and find meaning in the service they are contributing to. 

2023 Alternative Weekend Trips: November 10th – 12th 

  • Prescott Farm (Laconia, NH) 
  • Preble Street (Portland, ME) 
  • Woodstock Animal Sanctuary (High Falls, NY) 

Trip Positions

Alternative Breaks trips are typically made up of two student Team Leaders, nine student Trip Volunteers, and one University Representative. While each role has its own responsibilities, all participants are expected to engage fully in the program, including participating in pre-departure training and education sessions, team meetings, and post trip celebrations. Below are the requirements and expectations for each role. 

  • Typically senior leaders who work closely with the Assistant Director throughout the year to facilitate the program, support administration and logistics, manage communications and outreach, and develop training and resources. 
  • There are five Coordinator positions; Communications and Marketing, Education and Development, Alternative Spring Break Administration and Logistics, Alternative Weekends Administration and Logistics, and Program Development (new!) 
  • Participate in both individual and group meetings with the Assistant Director on a weekly basis. 
  • Receive full funding for their trip fees. 
Team Leaders (TLs)
  • Coordinate trip logistics based on timelines set by the Alternative Breaks Coordinators, Community Service and Civic Engagement, and the host site. 
  • Work closely with their Co-Team Leader during the planning process to ensure the success of all aspects of the trip.  
  • Attend monthly training sessions focused on leadership development and trip logistics. 
  • Participate in biweekly office hours with the Alternative Breaks Assistant Director and program coordinators to track progress and seek support during the planning process. 
  • Serve as a liaison between Trip Volunteers, the host organization, and Community Service and Civic Engagement.
  • Plan and facilitate two pre-departure meetings with their team: one educational opportunity based on the trip topic or location and one trip overview meeting. 
  • Lead by example to create the best service experience possible. Your actions, work ethic, and collaboration with host site staff set the tone for the team. 
  • Receive a 50% discount on program fees. 
  • Complete program evaluation at the end of Alternative Breaks.  
Trip Volunteers
  • Are flexible and willing to adapt to shifting priorities based on travel schedules and partner needs. 
  • Are open to new experiences, ideas, and perspectives. 
  • Are respectful to one another, to staff, and to members of their host communities. 
  • Are engaged in all facets—education, service, and reflection—of the Alternative Breaks program. 
  • Understand and are willing to follow the expectations and policies set by Alternative Breaks, the Office of City and Community Engagement, and Northeastern’s Student Code of Conduct. 
  • Are not required to have previous volunteer experience to participate in Alternative Breaks. 
  • Students can take part in Alternative Breaks while on co-op, but should get prior approval from their co-op employer. 
  • Complete program evaluation at the end of their Alternative Break. 
University Representative (UReps)
  • Staff or faculty members of Northeastern University. 
  • Largely participate as regular program participants, allowing the students leaders to lead the trips. 
  • Are available to provide encouragement and support to Team Leaders. 
  • Support the Team Leaders in any emergency situations 
  • Are often asked to be van drivers for domestic trips and handle purchases using a university procurement card 
  • Interested in serving as a URep? Please email Erin Curley at

“AS A U-Rep, ASB gave me a chance to connect with Northeastern students who I otherwise would not have met and explore other parts of the country. I learned so much about how service and connection with a community can take so many different forms, I am so glad I got to participate in ASB with an amazing team” – Alternative Spring Break 2023 U-Rep

Application Process

Northeastern members can find Alt. Breaks applications in the linktree on our Instagram when they open, or in the Weekly Volunteer Campaign!

Application Deadlines

Application Deadlines: 

  • Coordinators: Applications will be accepted until May 1st, 2023.
  • Team Leaders: Applications will be accepted until August 1st, 2023.
  • Apply here!

Trip Volunteers: 

Alternative Weekend Trips 

Priority Application Deadline is October 20th, 2023. After that date, applications will be accepted on a rolling basis. 

Apply for an Alternative Weekend here:

Alternative Spring Break Trips 

Priority Application Deadline is October 20th, 2023. After that date, applications will be accepted on a rolling basis. 

Apply for an Alternative Spring Break here:

Payment Information

Payment Deadlines 

Alternative Breaks requires a non-refundable deposit equal to half the total program fee to secure a spot on a trip.

Payment Options 

We accept checks or money orders payable to Northeastern University, with the volunteer’s name in the memo line.  

Deliver payments to our office at 271 Huntington Avenue or mail them to: 

Erin Curley  

Northeastern University 
420 Huntington Avenue 
Boston, MA 02115 

We also accept credit or debit card payments through Northeastern’s CashNet system:

Non-Refundable Payments 

Participating in Alternative Breaks requires commitment and investments of money and time. Historically, Alternative Breaks has had a no-refund policy. However, in light of COVID-19, adjustments to our ability to recover costs will likely change. CSCE will be working to update our reimbursement policy based on the refund policies of our host sites, accommodations, and airlines. 

Scholarships and Discounts
  • Team Leaders receive a 50% discount on program fees. Student Drivers on domestic trips are given a credit of $100 toward the cost of their trip. We also offer scholarships to Team Leaders and Trip Volunteers. To be considered, select “yes” on the scholarship portion of the volunteer application. We choose scholarship recipients based on financial need and in collaboration with the Office of Student Financial Services.
  • To support our program, consider donating to our Community Service and Civic Engagement Gift Fund:

  • Zero-Tolerance Policy 
    Alternative Breaks participants are not permitted to consume alcohol or drugs at any time on trips regardless of the laws in the host state or country. This includes purchasing or obtaining alcohol or drugs. Any participant that violates this zero-tolerance policy will be asked to leave the trip at their own expense.  
  • Safety and Emergency Response 
    We carefully vet our host sites to verify that they do meaningful work and can provide a safe environment for Alternative Breaks teams. We work closely with Northeastern’s risk management and legal departments to ensure host sites are in compliance with university policies. We also monitor travel advisories from the State Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ensure volunteer safety. In the event of a medical, security, political, or other emergency, Alternative Breaks participants will immediately notify Northeastern’s Office of Community Service and Civic Engagement. Northeastern employs GardaWorld Travel Security as a travel assistance and response provider. In an emergency scenario, every reasonable accommodation will be made to ensure the safety of participants and get them back to Boston quickly. Unfortunately, we cannot offer a refund of trip fees. Learn more about GardaWorld Travel Security
Travel and Accommodations

For Alternative Breaks trips outside Boston, volunteers will fly to their destinations via Logan International Airport. Volunteers for local and regional trips will drive to the host site. Teams always travel together on trips. 

Once on-site, ground transportation will be provided. Some vehicles will be driven by staff and students older than 21 who have been certified by Northeastern. For global trips, the host organization will coordinate transportation. 

Contact Us

Erin Curley, MSW

Assistant Director, Community Service Programs & Events

Phone: +1 617 373 8606

Follow our Instagram below for live updates and opportunities!