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Each year, James Madison University offers student-led service breaks to locations across the United States and abroad. Each service team typically consists of seven-nine student participants, two student co-leaders and a faculty or staff learning partner. We send Alternative Breaks out over both fall and spring break.


As a part of Community Service-Learning, ABP cultivates mutually beneficial partnerships between students, faculty, and community organizations that address community-identified priorities and contribute to student learning.

Alternative Break Philosophy

Each of JMU's Alternative Breaks adheres to the national Break Away philosophy and methodology, including the 8 Components of a Quality Alternative Break:

Strong Direct Service

Alternative Breakers help to meet real needs that have been identified by members of our host communities..

Full Engagement

Alternative Breakers strive to align actions and values and to remain present throughout the ABP experience.

  • We limit technology during the break so that we can focus on building relationships with one another and our community partners
  • We prepare and eat meals together and have limited budgets for both food and housing
  • Every Alternative Break is strictly alcohol-, cannabis-, and other-drug-free
  • Breakers practice ethical photography and ensure that the stories we tell in person and online enhance the dignity of those we served and help to advance the missions of our community partners.

Diversity and Social Justice

Alternative Breakers celebrate difference, strive for accessibility, and talk about how systems of power, privilege, and oppression relate to social issues and service work.


Alternative Breakers take time before each trip to learn about the non-profit or government organizations we'll be working with and the communities that will host us.


Alternative Breakers take time before each trip to learn about the social issues addressed by our community partners, and we apply that learning to better understand the root causes of the social issues we encounter.


Alternative Breakers develop skills to carry out the tasks and activities related to each service project. We try to find opportunities to use these new skills after we return from the break.


Alternative Breakers set aside time each day to discuss service, to make meaning of the day's events, and to identify additional actions we can take when we return to campus.


Alternative Breakers carry our experiences forward after returning home by participating in continued education, service, advocacy, and/or philanthropy related to our Alternative Break experiences.

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