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.
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Spring Participant Applications Are Open! More Info Below!

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.

Spring 2022 Trips (March 12 - 20)

Partner Organizations:

  •  Common Ground Relief in New Orleans, Louisiana
    • Participants will work on Hurricane Ida relief.

  • Cloudland Canyon State Park in Rising Fawn, Georgia
    • Participants will work on various environmental projects in the state park.

  • Serve901 in Memphis, Tennessee
    • Participants will engage in different types of service activities across the Memphis metro area and will participate in educational opportunities provided by the cite. Serve901 provides tickets to each participant to attend the National Civil Rights Museum in downtown Memphis.

Fall 2021 Trips (November 19 - 22)

Partner Organizations:

  • One Heartland and Camp Miller in Northern Minnesota
    •  Participants will help the camps with various needs in their offseason as the staff prepare for their summer programming. One Heartland is a camp that provides programming to children who are apart of the LGBTQIA+ community and who face social oppression. Camp Miller is the oldest YMCA camp in Minnesota and the 4th oldest in the United States.

  • Project C.U.R.EFeed My Starving Children, and the Habitat ReStore in Chicago, Illinois
    • Participants will help organize, sort, and ship medical supplies to hospitals and clinics in developing countries. Participants will also help with children's food insecurity.

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:

"Our Site Leaders were extremely focused on the team's needs and interests, they also provided lots of support, compassion and encouragement, setting good examples for us to follow."

"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 2022 Spring Site Leader? APPLY HERE!

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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