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Penn State Alternative Breaks

The Penn State Alternative Breaks (PSAB) program provides a variety of opportunities for students to learn more about themselves, others, and the world around them, through service. Our program includes trips three different times a year and they take place over university breaks: Fall Alternative Breaks (FAB), Alternative Winter Breaks (AWB) and Alternative Spring Breaks (ASB). Each program is designed to encourage personal growth, promote civic engagement, and enrich the lives of participants by immersing them in a new community around issues of social justice.

Our Mission

Penn State Alternative Breaks, as a function of the Office of Student Activities, promotes active citizenship through education, direct community engagement, and reflection.


With the support of the Office of Student Activities and the Student Initiated Fee we are able to make trips affordable to students at only $75.00 for FAB and $100.00 for AWB and ASB. This fee covers the cost of food, housing, transportation, and registration for our community partner organizations. If funding is barrier for you to participate, please contact Kelli Dowd for a possible fee waiver.

2017 -2018 Trips

  • FAB - 5 trips - November 17th - 21st 2017
  • AWB - 1 trip - December 15th - 22nd 2017
  • ASB -9 trips - March 3rd - 10th 2018
Fall Alternative Break (FAB)

Applications are now CLOSED. Please check out our Spring trips!

Community Development & the Environment – Center for Environmental Transformation – Camden, NJ
Want to see how a community comes together to fight environmental issues in their neighborhood? Join us as we volunteer with the Center for Environmental Transformation in Camden, New Jersey and work on service projects such as, community gardening, serving meals in a homeless shelter, helping at a local food bank, and spending time with kids who go to the school next to the organization. Lots of community interaction here and they even raise their own Bees!

Women, LGBTQ Populations, & Urban Poverty – God’s Love We Deliver & Women In Need – New York, NY
Join us as we work with organizations serving both Women and Children and the LGBTQ populations who are under-resourced in New York City. God’s Love we Deliver, focuses on delivering healthy meals to men, women, and children living with HIV/AIDS, Cancer, or other serious illnesses and Women in Need focuses on providing safe housing for women and children experiencing homelessness in NYC.

Youth Development – Junior Achievement – New York, NY
Head over to NYC with us this fall as we join the nation’s largest organization dedicated to giving young people the knowledge they need to own their future successes.  During our time with Junior Achievement we will be actively engaging and inspiring NYC youth by delivering 5-7 lessons a day and leading interactive activities and discussions.  No teaching skills, no worries; we will be participating in a training prior to serving that will provide you with all the skills you need.

Peace Education & Refugees – Little Friends for Peace – just outside Washington D.C. 
Through this experience, participants will partake in peace dialogues and workshops as well as service projects working with local refugee populations. Little Friends for Peace is an organization who does a variety of projects around Peace Education – working with youth development and refugee and immigrant populations.

Disaster Relief  Friends of Rockaway – New York, NY
Were you or someone you know affected by Hurricane Sandy or do you just want to help rebuild homes affected by this devastating storm? Join us this fall as we head to Far Rockaway, Queens to volunteer with Friends of Rockaway, a community-based non-profit organization striving to rebuild homes for Sandy survivors.  Upon arrival, you will be trained for equipment use and safety procedures so don’t worry if you have never done manual work before.

Cost: $75 per person.

Includes food, housing, transportation, and educational experiences. Fee Waivers are available on a case by case basis for those experiencing financial hardship. All you need money for is snacks or any souvenirs you want!

Dates: November 17th – 21st, 2017

This trip is during Penn State’s Thanksgiving Break, but you will be home in time for that homemade stuffing with your family!

Alternative Winter Break (AWB)

Alternative Winter Break will be sending students to the Selma Center for Nonviolence, Truth, and Reconciliation in Selma, Alabama. The social justice focus for the trip with be Race Relations and Community Development. Service experiences and activities will include environmental health projects, collecting oral stories of foot soldiers, nonviolence training, voter registration, and trips to historic civil rights sites. Only 9 spots available so apply today!

Cost: $100 per person.

Includes food, housing, transportation, and educational experiences. Fee Waivers are available on a case by case basis for those experiencing financial hardship. All you need money for is snacks or any souvenirs you want.

Dates: December 15th – 22nd 2017

AWB is during PSU Winter Break, but you will be home in time for the holidays.

Applications are now CLOSED. Please check out our Spring trips!

**You may be required to sign a waiver in order to participate.

Alternative Spring Break (ASB)

For ASB 2018 we will be having 8 different trips covering a variety of social justice topics! When you apply you will be asked to rank your trips and we will do our best to pair students with one of their top 3 choices.

Cost: $100 for food, housing, and transportation. All you need money for is snacks or any souvenirs you want!

Dates: March 3rd – 10th, 2018 (during PSU Spring Break)

Applications Due December 15th by 11:59pm 

Apply NOW at

Trip 1: Community Development & Urban Renewal – Cleveland Leadership Center – Cleveland, Ohio
Want to see how a community has come together to revive their neighborhoods? Join us as we hear from a variety of nonprofit leaders and take part in hands-on volunteer projects to learn more about the challenges the city of Cleveland has faced and how they are working to combat those challenges and bring Cleveland back Past projects with Cleveland Leadership Center have included packaging books from a book drive, working in a men’s shelter, teaching refugees, and serving meals in a soup kitchen.

Trip 2: Food & Home Insecurity in Wilmington – Vigilant Hope- Wilmington, North Carolina
This trip will be focused on connecting with local residents of Wilmington who are facing food insecurity or may be experiencing homelessness. Some projects may include volunteering at local food banks and churches serving meals to local residents and working with Vigilant Hope’s mobile Shower Trailer. Learn how Vigilant Hope has dedicated themselves to bringing dignity to the lives of those facing poverty in their community.

Trip 3: Race, Poverty & Access to Education – Pimlico School – Baltimore, Maryland
Join us as we spend a week at Pimlico School in the Baltimore City School District. Throughout the week you will work to support teachers in the classroom and create after-school activities for the chilren to enage with. You will learn about the Baltimore City school system and barriers that may be a factor in students’ success. This trip will also focus on the intersections of race, poverty, and access to quality education in other communities in the United States and globally.

Trip 4: Refugee Resettlement in America – International Rescue Committee – Atlanta, Georgia
Are you interested in learning more about the journey refugees take once they make it to the United States? Are you curious about what it takes to move to a new country and becoming a citizen? Join us as we work with the International Rescue Committee to help refugees get settled into a new country and community. Service may include teaching computer skills, financial literacy, or English, working to get furniture to a family, or after-school programming for local refugee youth, and if weather permits there is a community garden.

Trip 5: Rural Poverty in Appalachia – Appalachia Service Project – Jonesville, Virginia
Join us as we return to rural Appalachia for the 11th year in a row, to work with the Appalachia Service Project. Throughout the week you will be working to repair homes for local community members who are unable to fix it on their own either because of financial barriers or for aging and disabled populations. Service may include painting, repairing roofs, walls, floors, and helping to make homes energy efficient or up to code for local laws.

Trip 6: Urban Revival in Metro-Detroit  – Motown Mission & Growing Hope – Metro-Detroit, Michigan
Join us as we engage with multiple nonprofits surrounding issues of food security and urban poverty in the Metro-Detroit area. Learn about how the auto-industry fail impacted residents in and out of Detroit and what communities are doing to support their most vulnerable communities. Service projects may include working in urban gardens, food banks, and pantries. Through this experience you will also get to learn more about Detroit’s history, Ypsilanti’s efforts to develop healthy food access and economic stability to their community, and gentrification and its affects on marginalized communities.

Trip 7: It IS Easy Being Green – Ashville GreenWorks – Ashville, North Carolina
Join us in Ashville, North Carolina as we work with Asville GreenWorks and learn about all the ways they are working to push communities to be more environmentally conscious and sustainable. Projects that Ashville GreenWorks does include tree plantings, urban agriculture, anti-litter and waste reduction education, environmental clean-ups, creating green spaces, and preservation of rivers and trees.

Trip 8: Intersections of Race, Sexuality, and Teen Outreach – Valley Youth House – Allentown, Pennsylvania Join us as we work with the Valley Youth House to provide wrap-around services to local youth who may be home insecure or facing homelessness. Learn how Valley Youth House works to support teens by creating a foundation for success through programming focused on LGBTQ pride and support, substance abuse counseling, emergency shelter, developing independent living skills, transitional housing, in-school programs, and prevention strategies.

**You may be required to sign a waiver in order to participate.

***If you need special accommodations to participate please reach out to us!

PSAB Disaster Relief Commitment

Recognizing the amount of work that is needed after disasters have occurred, Penn State Alternative Breaks will be coming together with five other Commonwealth Campuses (Penn State Behrend, Worthington-Scranton, Greater Allegheny, York, and Harrisburg) to take 100 Penn State students to Texas to do Disaster Relief during spring break 2018.

We will be working with Community Collaborations International in the Beaumont and Port Arthur communities of Texas to provide relief to local residents who have experienced devastation and loss after Hurricane Harvey. As the spotlight fades on those communities affected by disasters we recognize the continued need for help rebuilding. Our hope is to make a commitment to these communities and continue to serve in Texas and other disaster affected areas for years to come.

Cost: $100 to cover food, transportation, and lodging

Apply Now till December 1st 2018 at

Any questions please reach out to Kelli Dowd – Advisor –

**You may be required to sign a waiver to participate