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Max A. Shacknai COVE Alternative Breaks

Learning at Colgate does not stop when students go on break. Make the most of your time by volunteering for an alternative break, traveling domestically and internationally to engage in community service!
Alternative breaks foster teamwork and friendships while you work to benefit a community in need.

About Alternative Breaks

Our Alternative Break Program gives you the opportunity to embark on trips to domestic and international destinations to engage in community service and deepen your understanding of pertinent social issues through interaction, collaboration, and experiential learning. We will also train you as a leader and advocate for social change. We encourage you to take an active role in initiating and planning trips, and we expect you to actively reflect on your experiences.

Alternative break trips are not discrete one-week experiences. In addition to committing to a work-intensive week, you will be attend 3-4 pre-departure meetings to prepare you for the experience you are about to undertake. Once you return to campus, the goal is to bring awareness of the pertinent issues back to Colgate.

Our vision is a society of community-minded citizens. As part of the Alternative Break experience, participants will become more educated and experienced in all sides of a social issue. Upon return, they will be empowered to make more informed decisions and take meaningful action that supports a greater good. They will become contributing members of society and will weigh in on issues that impact their community.


Alternative breaks take our students all over the country and world. Often our destinations are determined by world events such as natural disasters, as we try to provide assistance in areas of need. Past alternative breaks have been to locations such as New Orleans, in response to Hurricane Katrina; Mexico City, Mexico; and Neyba, Dominican Republic.

Spring 2016 Trips

The COVE is hosting 4 trips over Spring Break this year. Financial Aid is available for all trips.

Habitat for Humanity - Wilmington, DE

March 14, 2016 - March 19, 2016
Application deadline is Tuesday, February 2nd at 4pm

Volunteers will be working on new construction of 9 townhouses in Wilmington, DE. Habitat for Humanity houses are simple, decent, and affordable to low-income families. Whenever possible, Habitat builds energy-efficient, sustainable housing. Habitat lends no-profit, no-interest, mortgage loans to its beneficiary families. The goal of Habitat for Humanity is to help solve the global housing crisis and help the 48.5 million people living in poverty.

Apply Now

Civil Rights with the Freedom Foundation - Selma, Alabama

March 13, 2016 - March 18, 2016
Application deadline is Tuesday, February 2nd at 4pm

The Freedom Foundation has hosted thousands of college students from across the country for the last five years as part of a unique Alternative Break program, which focuses on service and education related to the Civil Rights movement both then (in the 60s) and today.

As a place of significance both in the Civil Rights Movement and the Civil War, Selma is very much in touch with its past. Few places can match Selma as a living textbook on the Civil Rights Movement and present-day race relations. Participants will be involved in a variety of activities including working with Selma students in grades K-12 and Leadership and Non-Violence Training. The Freedom Foundation acknowledges that seeing racism, inequality, and poverty is uncomfortable and it can challenge the perceptions and perspectives of the students in the program.  This break will be challenging and students should leave their experience feeling inspired and empowered about how they can impact the world. The trip cost is $400.

Apply Now

Leadership Development with Pathfinder Village - Edmeston, New York

March 14, 2016 - March 18, 2016
Application deadline is Tuesday, February 2nd at 4pm

Pathfinder Village is a caring community offering independence to people living with Down Syndrome and developmental disabilities.

 Volunteers will take part in a five-day inclusive team building program designed to build shared learning, mentoring, and coaching relationships between Pathfinder Village secondary students and college age peers. Student volunteers will be paired one on one with a resident for the duration of the week and each team will work together on a variety of challenges. Activities will include a ropes course, hike, outdoor cookout, and planning a St. Patrick's Day event for other residents. The goals of this trip are to build relationships with Pathfinder staff and residents while providing the organization with valuable service that will impact the lives of participants for years to come. Trip cost is $50.

Apply Now

Medical Brigade with Global Brigades - Panama

March 12, 2016 - March 18, 2016
The application for this trip is now closed. 

This one week Medical Brigade to Panama, through Global Brigades (, provides volunteers with the opportunity to make a tangible impact on communities while gaining real life experience in the field of international medicine.

Once in Panama, the team will visit one partner community to administer daylong clinics and conduct health workshops. The mobile clinic has five stations: intake, triage, consultations, pharmacy and education. Evenings are spent debriefing, reflecting, learning from local doctors about health needs of the specific communities, organizing medicine and delegating duties for the next day. The trip cost is $1,500. This includes airfare, in-country transportation, lodging and three meals a day.

Winter 2016 Trips

The COVE is hosting 2 trips over Winter Break this year. Both trips will leave on Sunday, January 10th and return Friday, January 15th. Applications will open on Wednesday, October 14th and are due on Wednesday, October 28th. Financial Aid is available for all trips. 

Disaster Response - New Orleans, Louisiana

January 10, 2016 - January 15, 2016

Application deadline is October 28th at 4pm.

With the 10 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina just behind us, there is a lot of work left to do in New Orleans. Students participating in this trip will be working with, a nonprofit organization that helps rebuild homes, facilitates access to social services, works with the youth, and experiments with models of sustainable economic development in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans.

The Lower Ninth Ward was one of the hardest-hit neighborhoods in the New Orleans area and rebuilding the Ward has been delayed due to poverty, the scale of devastation and local, state, and federal inaction Participants will rebuild houses and work with community members on various projects. The trip cost is $400.

Hunger and Homeless
Outreach - Washington D.C.

January 10, 2016 - January 15, 2016

Application deadline is October 28th at 4pm.

America is one of the world's wealthiest nations, especially when it comes to our agricultural production, yet enough food goes to waste each day to feed every hungry adult and child living in the nation. Each night some five million children go to bed hungry. As many as 3.5 million people each year have no bed to call their own, as they experience homelessness.

Participants will have an opportunity to explore the root causes and efforts to improve the hunger and homelessness situation in American through a series of site visits, guest speakers and discussions. Participants will be volunteering at soup kitchens and with various organizations that specialize in assisting and empowering the homeless population. The trip cost is $300.