About Our Volunteer Experiences

Alternative Break’s community partners focus on a range of social justice issues that impact local, national, and international communities. Some partners have been working with Alternative Breaks volunteers for years, while others are just beginning their relationships with our program. Below, you will find more specific information about each of our community partners organized by the primary social issue they address.

Education

Sites that provide access to education outside the traditional classroom in order to respond to the systemic inequitable distribution of academic resources, particularly in communities that are historically and currently oppressed and underserved.

Experience description

Gaston is a small North Carolina town near the Virginia border with a population of just over 1,100 people. The public schools in Gaston score significantly below the state average on standardized tests, while the students at the KIPP: GCP (Knowledge is Power Program) schools perform well above the state average. We will explore the unique KIPP model by partnering with KIPP: Gaston College Prep middle school. The team will spend each full day in the classrooms, assisting the teachers, and working with 5th-8th grade students who are college bound from an early age. Participants will have the opportunity to engage in dialogue about teacher training and educational policy and explore differences between public, private, charter, rural, urban, and suburban school systems. Connecting with community members, teachers, parents, and administrators will provide multiple perspectives into community life and how the school's setting influences students’ learning.

Who our partner is

KIPP Gaston College Preparatory

Transportation

Transportation will be provided by Alternative Breaks, from UMD campus to the housing site, and to and from service sites. 

Location

Gaston, North Carolina

Cost

$250.00 (Inclusive of lodging, food, transportation, and any additional educational activities.)

Environmental Conservation

Sites that work to protect natural resources for current and future generations.

Experience description

The Chesapeake Bay is the gem of the East Coast: covering 64,000 square miles, the Chesapeake Bay Watershed is the largest estuary in the United States and acts as an ecological oasis to living organisms. The Bay is a sanctuary to thousands of species of plants and animals, and it serves as an economic and recreational hotspot for the region. However, since the 1970s, the Chesapeake Bay’s ecological livelihood has been threatened by pollution, nutrient run-off, invasive species, and mass-production agriculture.

Social issue intersections

Food insecurity, and socioeconomic equity

Who our partner is

On this experience, we will have the opportunity to experience the beauty of the Bay and explore the importance of this natural wonder, along with tackling the issues that put the Chesapeake Bay at risk. Through collaboration with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, we will engage in hands-on field programs to actively combat the negative effects of agricultural, industrial, and human influence on the area. Participants will also be able to learn about the policies and restoration efforts in progress and will gain perspective on how the biodiversity of the Bay has impacts on our everyday lives. 

Transportation

Transportation will be provided by Alternative Breaks, from UMD campus to the housing site, and to and from service sites. 

Location

Annapolis, Maryland

Cost

$250.00 (Inclusive of lodging, food, transportation, and any additional educational activities.)

Leaders

Katie C. and Alex

Experience description

Located in Southwestern Virginia, Hungry Mother State Park is easily one of the most beautiful parks in the state. With it being known for its amazing woodlands and lake, Hungry Mother is one of the original six parks in Virginia and it received its name from the Hungry Mother Creek. In this experience, with 18 miles of gorgeous mountain trails wrapping around the park, participants will be able to improve and restore these hiking trails, while enjoying the peace and quiet of the outdoors.

Who our partner is

Hungry Mother State Park

Transportation

Transportation will be provided by Alternative Breaks, from UMD campus to the housing site, and to and from service sites. 

Location

Marion, Virginia

Cost

$250.00 (Inclusive of lodging, food, transportation, and any additional educational activities.)

Leaders

Akshaya and Elaine

Experience description

Located in Rockbridge County, Virginia Natural Bridge State Park is home to the only natural white marble arch in North America. Created naturally by eroded water and wind, Natural Bridge is home to the only natural white marble arch in North America. With a bridge opening that is 25 feet high by 35 feet wide, there are many volunteer opportunities that are needed to maintain this beauty. Participants would be able to manage trails and create educational content that would teach future students about environmental conservation.

Who our partner is

Natural Bridge State Park

Transportation

Transportation will be provided by Alternative Breaks, from UMD campus to the housing site, and to and from service sites. 

Location

Natural Bridge, Virginia

Cost

$250.00 (Inclusive of lodging, food, transportation, and any additional educational activities.)

Leaders

Desai and Katie G.

Food Justice & Hunger

Sites that provide food resources to communities impacted by structural barriers to the human right of access to healthy food.

Experience description

Participants will contribute to a healthy environment and lifestyles by learning about sustainable, community-based agriculture. At Claggett Farms in Upper Marlboro, participants will serve with staff and community members at a tree nursery and harvest vegetables to distribute at no cost to low-income families in the area.

Who our partner is

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), established in 1967, works to preserve the natural beauty of the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem, through education, advocacy, litigation, and restoration in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia. You can learn more about CBF here.

Transportation

Transportation will be provided by Alternative Breaks, from UMD campus to the housing site, and to and from service sites. 

Location

Annapolis, MD

Cost

$250.00 (Inclusive of lodging, food, transportation, and any additional educational activities.)

Leaders

Alicia and Jawayria

Health and Wellness

Sites that provide access to health resources that some lack due to the systemic inequitable distribution of healthcare resources in our society.

Experience description

 Pennsylvania, home of the first baseball stadium, first computer and home to Philadelphia, which was once the capital city of the United States. With so much to do in Pennsylvania including visiting Hershey Gardens, and the Botanical Garden, it is hard not to get too excited!

Project C.U.R.E provides the highest quality donated medical supplies and equipment possible to resource-limited communities across the globe, including efficient and accurate inventory systems, supply chain management, expert management of logistics and strong in-country relationships. Since its inception, this organization has served people in over 130 countries.

Who our partner is

Project C.U.R.E.

Transportation

Transportation will be provided by Alternative Breaks, from UMD campus to the housing site, and to and from service sites. 

Location

West Grove, Pennsylvania

Cost

$300.00 (Inclusive of lodging, food, transportation, and any additional educational activities.)

Leaders

Alexa and Miranda 

Socioeconomic Inequity

Sites that provide access to resources that some lack due to the systemic inequitable distribution of wealth in our society.

Experience description

There are 16,000 vacant buildings and 14,000 vacant lots in Baltimore and approximately 30,000 people in the city experience homelessness over the course of a year. Access to employment, healthcare, food, and education are all affected by a lack of permanent residence. During this AB experience, participants will serve with local community organizations and learn from citizen and government driven initiatives that are bridging the gaps of affordability and accessibility for some of the city's most vulnerable residents.
 
Dive into the social construct of race and its impact on communities such as Baltimore. Hear from and serve alongside neighborhood leaders who are challenging misconceptions of this city, fostering understanding across division, and engaging in effective advocacy

Who our partner is

Paul’s Place

Transportation

Transportation will be provided by Alternative Breaks, from UMD campus to the housing site, and to and from service sites. 

Location

Baltimore, Maryland

Cost

$300.00 (Inclusive of lodging, food, transportation, and any additional educational activities.)

Leaders

Eleanore and Megha  

Experience description

Baltimore, Maryland, once nicknamed “Charm City” and the “Greatest City in America” was not only the home of major historical figures, but the communities located here have always created a pathway for change. 

Break a Difference is nothing short of its name as this nonprofit organization started nine years ago with the purpose of giving students a chance at accessible volunteer opportunities and community service. Since its establishment, Break a Difference has created many connections in the Baltimore, Maryland community with one goal in mind: making a difference that will impact communities for generations to come. With this organization, students will be able to dedicate their time working to solve socio economic inequities with other nonprofits

Who our partner is

Break A Difference in Baltimore

Transportation

Transportation will be provided by Alternative Breaks, from UMD campus to the housing site, and to and from service sites. 

Location

Baltimore, Maryland

Cost

$250.00 (Inclusive of lodging, food, transportation, and any additional educational activities.)

Leaders

Eden and Menna

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