Ready to serve the nation and the world


Two female students mixing paint in the foreground while a male student paints a cinderblock wall in the background.
JMU students will be serving in 30 destinations around the country and around the world over the next week.

Every year, James Madison University’s award-winning Alternative Break Program reaches its busiest time in early March. This year, nearly 300 students are embarking on 30 different spring break trips around the country and world, each based on a social issue such as homelessness, resettlement, health or community wellness. This year’s ASB trips will take place from March 8 to 15. The students spend the week living simply, focused on service in their destination community but also on teamwork and reflection within their group.

Students who sign up for ASB have been working in teams since early November to organize their trip, choose a faculty or staff learning partner and fundraise. Each trip is placed into one of three categories: driving domestic, flying domestic and flying international trips.  There are also designated trip leaders, usually two per destination. Trip leaders are responsible for educating their group on their trip’s social issue as well as finding opportunities in Harrisonburg for participants to carry on their service when they return. 

In 2010, the JMU Alternative Break Program was the Break Away National Program of the Year. The program earned the same award in 1999 from Break Away, a national nonprofit organization that supports the development of quality alternative break programs at colleges and other nonprofit organizations. The award recognizes JMU’s commitment to active citizenship and a more well-rounded student body.

Related Links:
Alternative Break Program 
Community Service-Learning:

Alternative Spring Break Destinations


Domestic Driving

Vacamas Day Camp, West Milford, N.J., working to maintain the children’s leadership camp as well as working with kids at an after-school program in the Bronx, N.Y.  Focus on youth and education.

Common Ground Relief, New Orleans, La., assisting with restoration and preservation of wetlands following Hurricane Katrina. Focus on environment.

East Coast Migrant Head Start Program, Lakeland, Fla., helping with needs of children inside and outside the classroom.  Focus on resettlement and youth.

Free For Life International, Franklin, Tenn., informing and standing up against the atrocities of human trafficking and exploitation. Focus on community wellness.

LifeSpan, Charlotte, N.C., coordinating service work at the center that provides education, employment and enrichment programs for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Focus on community wellness.

Medici Project, Atlanta, Ga., working with at-risk urban youth in the community, providing social and emotional health support to those who need it.  Focus on health.

Pace Center, Jacksonville, Fla., supporting and counseling young girls in their time of need and assisting girls on making positive lifestyle choices. Focus on youth

Refugee Resettlement, Louisville, Ky., educating and mentoring refugees who are acclimating to school, community and the American culture.  Focus on resettlement.

Dismas House, South Bend, Ind., helping previously incarcerated individuals transition back into society. Focus on resettlement.

Sheffield Place, Kansas City, Mo., assisting at the transitional living facility for women and children who have been forced from their homes.  Focus on homelessness – youth and women.

York Place, York, S.C., serving in classrooms, beautifying the campus and spending time with children in the residential treatment facility for children with significant emotional or behavioral disorders.  Focus on youth and health.

Family Promise of Greater Florida—Hosted by the Center for Multicultural Student Services and Community Service-Learning, Winter Park, Fla., immersing into homelessness as well as helping with meal preparation. Focus on homelessness.

Once Upon a Time—Co-sponsored with University Unions, Maryville, Tenn., working on environmentally focused activities and community-based activities among the Cherokee people and in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cherokee National Forest and Sequoyah Museum.  Focus on resettlement.

Nature’s Conservancy, Bristol, Fla., assisting with restoration and preservation of the natural habitats in the Apalachicola area.  Focus on the environment.

New England Center for Homeless Veterans, Boston, Mass., assisting in the facility dedicated to housing homeless veterans in the Boston area. Focus on homelessness.

Domestic Flying

Cherokee Nation Early Childcare, Tahlequah, Okla., promoting early childhood development with help from the Head Start Program. Focus on resettlement.

Joshua Tree National Park, Calif., camping and participating in environmental, service-based activities in the desert. Focus on environment.

Los Angeles Mission and the Downtown Women’s Center, Los Angeles, Calif., providing help, hope and opportunity to individuals in need in the Los Angeles community. Focus on homelessness.

AIDS Project of Los Angeles and LA’s Best, Los Angeles, Calif., working with those affected by HIV/AIDS by providing a wealth of services as well as providing after-school tutoring, arts and crafts and games for children.  Focus on youth and health.

Redwoods National Park, Redwoods National Forest, Calif., assisting with environmental preservation projects in the park.  Focus on environment.

Springs Rescue Mission, Colorado Springs, Colo., assisting with the Winter Sheltering Program by serving guests in various ways and making them comfortable. Focus on homelessness and health.

International Flying

Shuar Tribe, Arutam, Ecuador, providing assistance to the tribe through a diverse set of projects focused on community wellness. Focus on community wellness.

Casa-Nica, Masaya, Nicaragua, working with local people to find how to utilize land in a more sustainable way as well as assisting at an orphanage and special needs organization. Focus on environment and community wellness.

Committee for the Upliftment of the Mentally Ill (CUMI), Montego Bay, Jamaica, serving and participating in activities with homeless, mentally ill individuals in the community. Focus on health and homelessness.

Paix Bouche Community Council, Paix Bouche, Dominica, conducting ethnographic research, participating in community service projects and exploring the island (part of a three-credit course). Focus on community wellness.

Entremundos, Quetxaltenango, Guatemala, assisting the community by rebuilding household items, educating children, fixing schools, agricultural projects and assisting with a food support program. Focus on community wellness.

The Nicaragua Project, Chacraseca, Nicaragua, helping to build a house for a local family. Focus on community wellness.

Peru 109, Trujillo, Peru, working with low-income children and families to provide literacy support, afterschool sports programs and artistic activities. Focus on youth and community wellness.

Volunteer in Jamaica Opportunity Network (VIJON), Treasure Beach, Jamaica, providing individual attention to the students in a local school. Focus on youth.

Village Mountain Mission, Luperon, Dominican Republic, focusing on building a house for a local family in while interacting and working with local people.  Focus on community wellness.

# # #

March 7, 2014

Published: Friday, March 7, 2014

Last Updated: Friday, March 16, 2018

Back to Top

Related Articles