Are you passionate about creating change while making new friends?

Travel with a student-led group of Dukes to work alongside community leaders to address pressing social issues.

ASB registration deadlines are early December for flying breaks and early February for driving breaks. 

JMU Alternative Break Program (ABP) brings students together during fall and spring breaks.

Each Break:

  • Is led by trained student leaders
  • Includes other service-minded students as well as a faculty or staff Learning Partner
  • Travels to a domestic or international location
  • Volunteers with a non-profit organization
  • Explores the host community
  • Learns more about pressing social issues
  • Interacts with amazing people who are making change in their own community

“This experience opened my eyes to so much and made me realize that I should be doing something that I love and not something that someone else thinks I should do.”

-Bronwyn Neal, Alternative Spring Break

Upcoming Breaks

Frequently Asked Questions


Any JMU student can participate—you don't even have to be full-time! You don’t have to have any prior volunteer experience or even figure out transportation or housing. What more could you ask for?

  1. Because you want to volunteer 
  2. Because you want to learn about and explore other communities
  3. Because you want to meet new people while making an impact

All breaks provide students with unique experiences they cannot find on campus. Breakers have volunteered in soup kitchens; planted trees; repaired trails; constructed playgrounds; gutted and repaired homes; assisted in elementary school classrooms; painted murals; built bridges; learned first-hand about the prison pipeline, human trafficking, and immigration reform; and most importantly, built relationships within those communities.

We offer breaks in October and March and one just for incoming first-years and new transfer students in September. 

You can register for a break online via BeInvolved. The link will also be posted at the top of this page when registration is live. You may want to follow us on Facebook or Instagram to get the latest updates.

Fall Break's (AFB) online registration link goes live early September. 

Spring Break's (ASB) online registration link goes live early November. 

To complete your registration and secure your spot on the break, you MUST either make your initial payment or submit a scholarship application at the end of the online registration.

Yes. It is a first-come, first-served process. You register online and it will add you to the waitlist directly from there if the break has filled. You will be contacted if a spot becomes available.

Yes! If you are interested in proposing an Alternative Fall or Spring Break to work in a new destination or with a new community partner, please contact our office at or 540-568-6366.

We strive to make our breaks accessible and invite you to discuss your needs and potential accommodations with our office as soon as possible so that we can take the information into account when finalizing our plans for service, meals, transportation, and other activities.

We are committed to diversity and social justice and strives to be accessible to and inclusive of students of all abilities. If you have a documented disability (or think you may have a disability) and as a result may need reasonable accommodations to participate in DMAD, please contact the Office of Disability Services (ODS) as soon as possible. To receive accommodations, you must be appropriately registered with ODS. The ODS works confidentially in partnership with students, faculty, and other University departments to ensure equal access through Universal Design and reasonable accommodations. The office is located in the Student Success Center, Suite 1202. You may contact them by phone at 540-568-6705 or through email at


Break costs vary by type and location. Specific prices and details will be listed on the individual break’s description, so always check there before registering.

Almost everything: housing, community partner fees, travel, volunteer supplies, most meals, leadership, education, tons of fun, and a t-shirt!

The exceptions are food during travel days (i.e. grabbing lunch at the airport or while you’re driving to/from the community where you’ll volunteer), any souvenirs you find on the community day, and sometimes food during the community day.

The first payment secures your spot on the break. The initial payment is due at the time of registration. When registering, you'll have the option to either pay or submit a scholarship application.

We accept all major credit and debit cards. If you need to discuss alternate payment options, please contact our office at 540-568-6366 or

We never want to turn someone away due to finances. For that reason, need-based scholarships are available.

The first step in the scholarship process is submitting a scholarship application when you register. 

For Alternative Spring Breaks, your team will also participate in fundraising efforts that our office coordinates. We believe it’s about putting in the effort—as long as you do that, you can get an equal share of the funds raised.

The total amount of money available differs by break type. With limited funds available, this becomes a very competitive process; not all applicants will receive awards. Typically, the amount of individual awards vary from one-quarter to one-half the total break cost.

We distribute financial awards taking into account:

  1. Financial need of the applicant. We obtain the financial ranking of each applicant from the office of Financial Aid. Categories are high, medium, and low, based on an applicant’s financial package
  2. Total amount of award money available
  3. Distribution of scholarship money across the breaks
  4. Total number of applicants

JMU reserves the right to cancel a break due to lack of participation, unexpected events and/or for security and safety considerations. In such circumstance, the university will endeavor to refund fees advanced by participants where those fees are uncommitted and recoverable.

If an unavoidable circumstance occurs, you must IMMEDIATELY notify the Alternative Break staff to request consideration for a refund. All requests must be submitted via email to and include your name, break, and documentation of the unavoidable circumstances. Refund requests will NOT be considered without documentation. Refunds will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Unavoidable circumstances do not include decisions that you made to pursue other activities. There will be no refunds for any student dismissed from the program for reasons of misconduct or failure to comply with James Madison University (JMU) and/or Alternative Break Program (ABP) policies, procedures, and regulations.

All donations can be made online at the JMU Foundation website.

Under Special gift instructions, please enter the name of the Alternative Break you are supporting.

JMU employees: If you wish to make gifts via payroll deductions you can set up one-time or recurring payments via the link above. Please be sure to note that your gift will support "other" and write-in "CEVC." If you would like your donation applied to a specific break, please note the break name in the box as well.

Break Roles

Each Spring Break consists of two student co-leaders, one faculty-staff learning partner and 7-9 participants. Some of our Fall and New Dukes trips are for larger groups of up to 60 Dukes. With large group breaks, everyone stays at the same housing, travels in caravans or sometimes even a larger charter bus, and usually focuses on a similar social concern. However, they still break into a smaller group of 8-10 to do the volunteer work. Those smaller teams of 8-10 still typically have two student co-leaders, one learning partner and 5-7 participants.

Alternative Fall Breaks (AFB) are led by CEVC’s student employees. Alternative Spring Break (ASB) leader applications are accepted in mid-to-late October. ASB leaders participate in a training retreat over MLK Weekend and in weekly 90-minute workshops throughout the spring semester. It’s a lot of work, a serious responsibility, and one of the best things you’ll ever do! Keep an eye on our website for the application to go live, or follow us on Instagram (@jmucevc) or Facebook (JMU Community Engagement & Volunteer Center), and we’ll be sure to notify you when that option is available.

  • Spearhead a service project with a community organization.
  • Facilitate learning about critical social challenges and interact with local leaders.
  • Join forces with a crew of fellow change-makers who are as passionate as you are about making the world a better place. 
  • Plan and prepare your break with a co-leader.
  • Attend 90-minute workshops each week
  • Be a part of a Community Meeting, a Community Celebration, and two pre-break meetings.
  • Plan and implement a post-break reorientation activity. 

FALL 2023

  • October 31, ASB Leader App deadline 
  • November 28, 7-8:30pm ASB Leader Speed-dating 
  • December 5, 7-8:30pm ASB Co-Leader and Community Partner Reveal 


  • January 14-15, ASB Leader Retreat - this year learn and serve on MLK Day
  • Tuesdays, 8-9:30pm ASB Leader Workshops,  
  • February 3, 1-6pm ASB Community Meeting and Letter Writing Party
  • March 9-16, Alternative Spring Break
  • March 25, 8-10pm ASB Community Celebration

All breaks have at least one faculty or staff member as part of the team. They participate fully, contributing to group discussions and decisions, like everyone else. Learning Partners (LPs) add a unique perspective based on their life experience and/or academic discipline. In emergency situations, they serve as an additional resource to break leaders.

If you have any professors, coaches, advisors, or supervisors that you think would be a great addition, please email us and we will see if they’d like to join a team in the future.

If you’re passionate about making a positive contribution to a host community and to JMU students, then you should be an LP! Depending on the break type, learning partners are either assigned by our office or selected directly by student leaders. Email us to learn more about upcoming information sessions and LP opportunities.



Our driving breaks use JMU 12-passenger vans. This way, you can get to know others while traveling, lessen pollution from multiple vehicles, make sure everyone arrives at the same time, and ensure you don’t miss out on epic music playlists. If you are over 19 with a good driving record, you may be asked to drive, but it is not mandatory.

If there are any accommodations those vans don’t provide, please let us know ( and we will investigate other options as well.

If your team will be flying, the leaders may reach out to see if team members could help carpool to the airport with their own car (usually getting reimbursed for gas and parking—ask your leaders about those details).


We purchase group tickets for the entire team, so one less set of logistics for you! This way if there are layovers and/or delays the whole team still travels together.

Most lodging accommodations are either provided by the host site or determined by the break leaders. Past Breaks have stayed in tents, a church, a cabin, or in the actual service organization center. Many times, it’s in a sleeping bag on the floor, but sometimes there are air mattresses or beds as well.

Sometimes there are separate sleeping areas for students who identify as men and women, but not always. Sometimes it is a requirement.

If any sleeping scenario does not feel comfortable to you, please let your leaders know as soon as possible so they can look into possible alternatives.

Food is determined by each Break. Most teams buy and prepare all of their meals. As part of the communal experience, we challenge teams to closely mirror SNAP accommodations by budgeting $7/person/day for food. It’s fun to meal prep and cook for the whole group creatively while learning more about some of our Alternative Break values. Some community partners and/or housing partners provide meals as part of their role in the break.

Leaders will have information about food allergies and preferences so the team and/or partners can accommodate those.

Drug and alcohol policy: Every Alternative Break is strictly alcohol-, cannabis-, and other-drug-free.

Ethical photography: Breakers also practice ethical photography and ensure that the stories we tell in person and online enhance the dignity of those we serve and help to advance the missions of our community partners.

Building community: Before your break, expect a required program-wide community meeting and at least one pre-break meeting with just your service group. Preparation and community-building before we leave help to ensure that we have the greatest possible impact and the best possible time during the Alternative Break itself. After you come back, you can look forward to the Community Celebration. All the teams get together to share accomplishments, a little bit about what happened on each trip, as well as plans to turn the lessons of the Alternative Break into actions in our local community.

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