• A group of people looking at a mural
  • A group of people hiking
  • A woman holding a knife in her right hand and a celery in her left hand

Alternative Break Trips

Group of students on a mountain

Explore an Alternative Break Trip

Want to do something different on your academic break? Join a UNLV Alternative Break Trip! Often called “alt breaks,” these are student-led, university-sponsored trips that typically last a week. They’re a great way to experience a different community and explore social justice issues through service alongside communities. While you travel, your group will do service, learn, live simply, and get to know your fellow travelers and host community. Administrative or academic faculty members attend to support learning and maintain administrative aspects. These trips are subsidized by the University to be affordable to students, but still have some financial commitment from participants (cost dependent on the trip).

Program Values

Simplicity
Our trips are crafted to be affordable and different from the everyday. This means everything from sleeping in shared spaces, cooking shared meals, sharing in chores and turning your cell phone off.
Community
Our teams should get to know each other, as well as the local community hosting us.
Solidarity
We strive to work alongside communities, finding nonprofit partners that are deeply connected with the community and working in partnership for social change.
Justice
It is important that we do service, but also learn about issues on a deeper level to understand why structural inequity exists and how we can work for social change. This process is often slow and challenging; we try to find hope along the way.
Continuation
After our trips return, we take time to share our experiences with others, continue service and issue education, and plan steps we can take to advocate for social change.

To create an effective and learning and service experience, participants commit to a drug- and alcohol-free experience. We include some (limited) recreation time as a group to experience the local destination, but that looks very different for every trip.

Trip Descriptions

2017-18 Trips

Date: Spring Break, March 25-31
Location: San Diego, CA
Topic: Immigration at the US-Mexico Border
Cost: $100
Description: Spend the week learning about immigration at the US-Mexico border and doing related service projects. Throughout the week participants could serve and learn with nonprofit partners such as: Border Angels, New Americans’ Museum, Mundo Gardens and other nonprofits. Visit Chicano Park to learn about the rich art and the history of the area, and visit San Diego State University to see their campus initiatives.

*Important note: Locations on this trip may include a border checkpoint and identification check.

Date: Spring Break, March 25-31
Location: Kanab, UT
Topic: Animal Rights and Welfare
Cost: $100
Description: Travel to Kanab, Utah to work with the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. This team will do a number of activities around animals and animal welfare-- this could mean mucking stalls, walking dogs, repairing trails or socializing with cats. Learn about the connection between people, animals, and the environment while doing a variety of service projects with the sanctuary.

Date: Spring Break, March 25-31
Location: Los Angeles
Topic: Mass Incarceration and Community Development Programs
Cost:$100
Description: Understand the fundamentals to this country’s justice system and post-incarceration conditions in Los Angeles. Work this week will include volunteering with nonprofits focusing on education development, serving with work-ready programs, learning from policy groups and participating in a dialogue with the Los Angeles Police Department’s Gang and Narcotics Division. Alt Breaks is excited to introduce this trip!

Date: March 25-31
Location: Carson-Tahoe, NV
Topic: Native American History & Culture
Cost: $80
Description: See another part of Nevada and learn about Native American history and culture! Work with the Stewart Indian School where the group could do a number of volunteer projects, including landscaping, cleaning and painting. Learn about the history of the Stewart Indian School and the current and future programs they host now. This trip will also visit Lake Tahoe to learn about the cultural significance of this beautiful place and to enjoy the alpine scenery!

*The high altitude location of this trip may present challenges for certain health conditions.

 

Date: May 13-19
Location: Catalina Island
Topic: Environmental Conservation, Restoration and Recreation
Cost: $100
Description: Work with the Catalina Island Conservancy, 20 minutes of the coast of Los Angeles, to learn about environmental conservation and native ecology to the island. In past years projects have included trail building, painting and landscaping, beach clean-ups, and invasive plant species removal. Discuss restoration, conservation and recreation and how to balance these sometimes-competing needs.

*This trip involves light camping and outdoor living and work.

Date: May 13-19
Location: Los Angeles
Topic: LGBTQIA+ topics
Cost: $80
Description: Explore the history of the LGBTQIA+ rights movement and the changing policies of today that affect the LGBTQIA+ community in Los Angeles. Serve with a variety of organizations doing projects that could include: working at a food bank, helping in a community garden, or connecting with individuals experiencing homelessness. The LGBTQIA+ community has a range of experiences and identities, and this trip will seek to take an intersectional look at the topics this community faces. Join this new trip as it makes its debut!

2016-17 Trips

Date: Spring Break, April 9-15
Location: San Diego, CA
Topic: Immigration at the US-Mexico border
Cost: $125
Description: Spend the week serving and learning about immigration at the US-Mexico border. We will be doing service with Border Angels, a non-profit that does water drops near the border and brings snacks and water to day laborers, among other projects. We may also visit local parks to learn about the history of the area. While we will spend the majority of our time during the week doing service and learning, we will also explore the city recreationally. Please note: The service projects on this trip may include a border checkpoint and identification check.

Date: Spring Break, April 9-15
Location: Kanab, UT
Topic: Animal welfare
Cost: $125
Description: Work with the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary learning about animal welfare! We’ll be learning about the connection between people, animals, and the environment while doing a variety of service projects with the sanctuary. We’re excited to offer this trip for the first time!

Date: Spring Break, April 9-15
Location: San Francisco, CA
Topic: Housing & food insecurity
Cost: $175
Description: Visit San Francisco while doing service and learning about how housing and food insecurity affects different groups of people. We will be volunteering with Glide Memorial Church, Lava Mae, Project Homeless Connect, and other local agencies, and exploring the intersectionality across different identities. We will also have recreational time to see the city throughout the week, but most of our time will be spent learning and doing service.

Date: May 14-20
Location: Carson-Tahoe, NV
Topic: Native American history & culture
Cost: $120
Description: See another part of Nevada and learn about Native American history and culture! We will be working with the Stewart Indian School, and could be doing a number of volunteer projects, including landscaping and painting. We’ll be learning more about the history of the Stewart Indian School and the programs they run now. We’ll also be visiting Lake Tahoe.

Deposits are nonrefundable once an applicant is offered and accepts a spot on a trip. If a student is declined a spot on a trip, their deposit is refundable (but we will be unable to offer refunds until the week after the trip). Applicants will be notified via email when refunds are available.

We do not want cost to be a barrier for someone to go on a trip, so we offer travel grants. Travel grant applicants can request for their trip deposit to be waived on their travel grant application. We are unable to offer any trips at no cost; the minimum trip cost for a travel grant recipient is $40.

Travel grant recipients are expected to briefly share their experiences with others at the post-trip reorientation event, Java and Justice. Presentations can be very casual (can be oral or visual) and recipients are free to choose how and what they share during the presentation.

Applying for a Trip

To submit a complete application for any trip, there are 2 steps:

  1. Apply online and 
  2. Submit $40 deposit (cash or check) to the Office of Service Learning and Leadership in Student Union 316 Monday-Friday, 9 AM- 5 PM. 
    • Remaining balance should be paid to SU 316 (or before the second pre-trip meeting, if enrolled in a payment plan).
    • Trip costs cover housing, transportation, food and any associated nonprofit partner volunteer fees.

What options are available for financial assistance?

  • Deposit waiver (in online application) - the $40 deposit is waived for applicant
  • Travel grant (in online application) - applicants request an alternate total trip cost that fits their needs (min. $20 total for weekend trips and min. $40 for week-long trips). If submitting a travel grant and accepted to a trip, the grant amount has been approved *unless otherwise outlined in offer email*.
  • Payment plan (email altbreaks@unlv.edu once accepted to a trip to set up a payment plan) - spaces out the payments to an amount different than the suggested payment schedule created for the trips.

Waitlist

You can opt to be placed on a waitlist in case trips are full but we have some folks who need to withdraw and a spot opens up. Participants can be offered a space on a trip starting as soon as 3/5 (spring break) or 4/16 (May trips) or up until one week before the trip. People on the waitlist will be required to join any pre-trip meetings or to schedule one meeting if all other meetings have passed.

Deadlines

Spring Break Trips
  • Applications close February 28.
  • Participants will be notified by the end of the day on Friday 3/2 and need to accept their spot on a trip by Monday, 3/5 at 10 a.m.
  • Waitlist notification from 3/5-3/16 (refunds to waitlisted folks not on a trip will be offered the week following the trip).
May Trips
  • Applications close April 13 by 10 a.m.
  • Participants will be notified by the end of the day on Friday 4/13 and need to accept their spot on a trip by Monday, 4/16 at 10 a.m.
  • Waitlist notification from 4/16-5/4 (refunds to waitlisted folks not on a trip will be offered the week following the trip).

Dates to Know

Spring Break Trip

  • Application Opens: Thursday 1/4/18
  • Deadlines to Apply: Wednesday 2/28/18
  • Notification: Friday 3/2/18
  • Confirmation: Monday 3/5/18
  • Waitlist Notification: Tuesday 3/6/18
  • Pre-Trip Meetings: 3/8,15,& 22;
    • 5-6:30, locations TBA
  • Trip Dates: 3/25-31
  • Java & Justice Reunion event: Tuesday 4/10

May Trip

  • Application Opens: 1/4/18
  • Deadline to Apply: 4/13/18
  • Notification: 3/2/18
  • Confirmation: 3/5/18
  • Waitlist Notification: 3/6/18
  • Pre-Trip Meetings: 4/19 & 26;
    • 5-6:30, locations TBA
  • Trip Dates: 5/13-19
  • Java & Justice Reunion event: 5/23

Wait List

Wait List Placement

Alternative Break applicants can be placed on the wait list by answering “yes” to the wait list question on the trip application. They will be placed on a wait list for all trips. Here is important information about the waitlist:

  • If a spot opens on any trip, all applicants on the wait list will be notified by email. The applicants that respond first, to be determined by the time stamp on their email reply, will be selected to attend the trip. Applicants on the wait list may be notified up to 2 days before the trip departure date.

  • Participants selected from the waitlist must pay the remaining trip cost by the regular payment deadline (by the second pre-trip meeting). If the participant is selected for the trip after the deadline has passed, they must make the payment as soon as possible. Other arrangements may be made with Alternative Break program staff if necessary.
  • Once selected from the waitlist, participants must attend all regularly scheduled pre-trip meetings or all remaining scheduled pre-trip meetings. (If the participant is selected for the trip after the pre-trip meetings have passed, it is their responsibility to contact Alternative Break program staff to set up an alternate meeting.)
    • If an applicant indicates on their application they would like to be placed on the wait list, their initial deposit will not be refunded until after the trip, and only if they do not attend the trip. If they are selected to go on the trip, their deposit will go to their trip balance, and they will be responsible for paying the remaining trip cost on the regular payment deadline. If the participant is added to the trip roster after the payment deadline has passed, they are expected to complete the payment as soon as possible.

Staff/Faculty Site Leaders

Join Alternative Break Trips this year as a staff site leader! This is a unique opportunity to support student site leaders as they lead service and social justice trips across the southwest. Alternative Break Trips (Alt Breaks) are part of the national movement of co-curricular experiences where students take a week to explore service-learning through related volunteer work, presentations from local nonprofits, and nightly reflections.

Staff and faculty are important partners to support the student site leaders and participants, helping manage trip logistics, supporting risk management, and sometimes co-facilitating reflection. Some specific responsibilities as a staff site leader include attending spring Site Leader Trainings, setting up at least one meeting with student site leaders, serving as primary driver on our breaks, and attending the post reunion event. Since staff traveling with an Alt Break are traveling in a working capacity, all trip costs associated with the University trip are covered (except for items purchased during free time or discretionary spending).

Past topics have included immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border in San Diego, animal welfare in Kanab and ecology on Catalina Island. Join us for informal info sessions in the Student Union 316 conference room on:

  • Wednesday (12/13), 9-10 a.m.
  • Tuesday (12/19), 4-5 p.m.
  • Thursday (1/4) 4:30-5:30 p.m.

Applications are due by January 17, 2018.

*To get specific responses to questions, e-mail us at altbreaks@unlv.edu.

Apply to be an Alternative Break Site Leader!

Want to gain transferable skills, have your trip cost covered, be part of a national movement, and make awesome friends and connections at UNLV? Apply to be an Alternative Breaks Site Leader!

Check out additional information by downloading these documents:

If you have any questions, email altbreaks@unlv.edu.

Applications are due by September 30, 2018 by 11:59 p.m.

Apply

Contact

UNLV Alternative Breaks

altbreaks@unlv.edu

Stine Odegard; Asst. Director for Alternative Breaks and Service-Learning

stine.odegard@unlv.edu