Student Engagement

Alternative Breaks

ISU Alternative Breaks Mission: To provide direct service opportunities for students to experience diverse perspectives, learn about social issues, and grow as life-long active citizens.
For more information, contact us at

What is Alternative Breaks?

The Alternative Breaks program began in 2008 at Iowa State. The Iowa State University Alternative Breaks program places teams of students in communities across the United States to engage in community service during Fall and Spring Break. Students perform short-term projects for community agencies and learn about various social issues.

To go on a trip, interested students must submit an application during the Fall semester to attend a Fall or Spring Break trip. Based on applications, students will be selected to interview and indicate interest in a trip they want to attend. Students chosen to go on trips will be expected to attend pre-trip meetings to become familiar with the social issue of their trip and become acquainted with their team.

Information about trip fees can be found HERE. Interested in going on a fall or spring break trip? Fill out the Participant Application below!

Participant Application

  • Fall Trip Application Deadline: Sunday, Oct. 16

  • Spring Trip Application Deadline: Sunday, Nov. 27

Fall 2022 Trips (November 18 - 21)

Trip Destinations and Partner Organizations

Spring 2023 Trips (March 11 - 18)

Destinations and Partner Organizations

  • New Orleans, Louisiana - Common Ground Relief
    • Participants will work on hurricane relief and various coastal restoration projects while learning about the impacts that hurricanes, flooding, and other natural disasters have on the local community.

  • Rising Fawn, Georgia - Cloudland Canyon State Park
    • Participants will work on various environmental and conservation projects in the state park while working alongside, and learning from, the Friends of Cloudland Canyon volunteer organization.

  • Memphis, Tennessee - Serve901
    • Participants will engage in a variety of service activities with several non-profit agencies across the Memphis metro area and will participate in educational opportunities provided by the site. Serve901 provides tickets to each participant to attend the National Civil Rights Museum in downtown Memphis.

  • Moab, Utah - Arches National Park
    • Participants will work with various environmental and conservation projects within the park, and learn about the. 

  • Jonesville, Virginia - Appalachia Service Project
    • Participants will assist in making homes warmer, safer, and drier for families throughout central Appalachia.

Trip Fee

  • Fall Break Trips: $120

  • Spring Break Trips: $250

The costs will include transportation, lodging, meals once on-site, and a t-shirt (for spring trips only). Each student is expected to pay for their own food while traveling. A group may decide to participate in additional excursion/sightseeing opportunities and these costs would be separate from the trip fee. Participant fees are non-refundable. If there are any concerns about the cost of a trip, please contact

Site Leaders

Student Engagement is seeking applicants to serve as Spring 2023 site leaders!

Site Leaders are presented with the unique opportunity to both attend and lead undergraduate students through hands-on service outside the Iowa State environment. On Alternative Breaks, students will learn about various social issues while exploring community agencies. Trips typically take place over the first half of Fall Break and throughout the entire duration of Spring Break.  

Site Leader Responsibilities:

  • Attend weekly trainings leading up to the trips with the Alternative Breaks team

  • Coordinate and facilitate group meetings to prepare participants for their trip

  • Lead participants through reflection curriculum while participating in service work on the trip

Site Leader Testimonials:

"Personally, [serving as a site leader] allowed me to gain new friendships and connections with different students while also giving me the confidence to lead them. Professionally, I was given the opportunity to lead a group through something that I am very passionate about and gain the experience of being a site leader."

"[Serving as a site leader] furthered my personal goals and how I view myself as a leader."

"Our site leaders were amazing who didn't lead from the front. They were right next to everyone else doing just as much work. It was cool to see that they cared just as much, if not more, about being there and volunteering their time."

Interested in serving as a Spring Break Site Leader? APPLY HERE!
Applications for Grad Students are due October 30th, 2022!

Interested in Volunteering

We are looking for enthusiastic students who are committed to volunteerism and service, and looking for a way to give back to the community during their Fall and Spring break. Our selection process will be competitive, based on application and interview. 

If you are excited about devoting a week of your college life to service, having a great time and forming lasting memories, you are the perfect person to go on an Alternative Breaks trip. Here is what students are saying about their Alternative Breaks experience:

"My Alternative Breaks experience was one of the highlights of my year. Overall, the trip was unforgettable, but among my favorite memories are getting to know the other great students that got to share this experience with me."

"All of it will be an experience I’ll remember for the rest of my life. Not only did I get to experience every aspect of the organization, but I got to see how passionate everyone was with what they were doing. Just being around them and taking in their energy inspired me to want to help them make a difference."

"It was an amazing trip filled with so much laughter and joy. We had unforgettable experiences no matter what we did. This trip was very eye opening as well as enjoyable. I learned a lot as well as a lot about myself as an individual. I was so glad I was able to go and help these men, and I will remember the entire trip forever, especially the conversations I had and the men I got to know."

Participant Responsibilities

  • Attend group meetings and functions.

  • Sign all required policy forms.

  • Adhere to the standards set by their Site and the Alternative Breaks Program during, before, and after the trip.

*Trips are subject to change without notice

For more information, contact us at!


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