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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 2017 Trips

The COVE is hosting 3 trips over Spring Break this year. Financial Aid is available for all trips. Applications will open early spring semester.

Habitat for Humanity - Cleveland, Ohio

March 12, 2017 - March 18, 2017

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.

Trip cost is $100. Financial aid is available.

Refugee Resettlement - Clarkston, Georgia

March 12, 2017 - March 18, 2017

Clarkston, GA is a small suburb town located just a few miles east of downtown Atlanta. Proclaimed as the “small town with a big heart”, Clarkston looked like any other small suburb in Georgia until the 1980s when it was hand-picked by refugee resettlement agencies as a location to welcome refugees coming to Georgia. Now, the town is thought to be perhaps the most diverse community in America. This trip focuses on issues surrounding refugee resettlement.

The trip cost is $400. Financial Aid is available.

Leadership Development with Pathfinder Village - Edmeston, New York

March 13, 2017 - March 17, 2017

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.

Winter 2017 Trips

The COVE is hosting 2 trips over winter break this year.  Applications will open on Wednesday, October 12th and are due on Wednesday, October 26th. Financial Aid is available for both trips.  

Hunger and Homeless
Outreach - Washington D.C.

January 15, 2017 - January 21, 2017

Application deadline is October 26th 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.

Participants will also have the opportunity to attend the Presidential Inauguration on the National Mall.

The trip cost is $300. Financial aid is available.

Effects of Gentrification - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

January 15, 2017 - January 20, 2017

Application deadline is October 26th at 4pm.

Partnering with Amizade, this trip dives deeper into targeted marginalized communities that are falling victim to gentrification. Students will partner with organizations in a low income area of the city that is trying to respond to, and resist the gentrification happening. Students will see the astounding lack of access to healthy programs in the community and do volunteer work tag teaming off of that in food security.

The trip cost is $300. Financial aid is available.