Alternative Break

The Center for Civic Engagement & Learning hosts and supports community service trips that enable students to get involved in service beyond Cleveland. Rather than engage in typical break activities, students on Alternative Breaks engage in projects with non-profit organizations and community members in different cities and countries. It is a great way to make a difference, learn about a new place, and meet new people!

CCEL offers Alternative Breaks focused on rural community development in Nicaragua, criminal justice reform in the U.S., and environmental conservation on Cumberland Island National Seashore. CCEL is also happy to promote additional break programs coordinated by student service organizations and Case Western Reserve University affiliated departments, including a trip to New Orleans coordinated by Janice Eatman Williams.

CCEL also coordinates a community-based capstone course that involves a week of service activities with the National Park Service on Cumberland Island National Seashore off the coast of Georgia. Visit the capstone page to learn more about that program.

apply to be a 2016 alternative spring break site leader

Help strengthen CCEL's Alternative Break program by applying to be a Site Leader for one of the 2016 Alternative Spring Breaks (ASB). Site Leaders will work either independently or in pairs, depending on the break, alongside a CCEL staff learning partner to enhance the education, service, reflection, and group bonding experience for their respective break. Selected Site Leaders will earn a $200 stipend that will be automatically applied to the cost of their ASB. Review the Site Leader responsibilities and complete the online application by Thursday, November 19.Applicants will be interviewed on a rolling basis.


March 6 to March 13, 2016: Spotlight on Rural Community Development ASB Nica group shot

CCEL directly coordinates an international Alternative Break destination to Nicaragua. Students will travel to a rural, coastal community near the town of Chinandega and work with a nonprofit organization called Waves of Hope. Service projects will include facilitating activities with the local school, helping to improve community infrastructure through basic construction projects, and working on afterschool projects with a local youth group.

The trip will provide students with a unique immersion experience that will allow them to better understand Nicaraguan culture and history, while exploring topics related to rural community development. The cost of the trip will be approximately $1,650 which includes most meals, lodging, in-country transportation, and international airfare. For general information about the Nicaragua trip, check out our FAQ page or visit the Education Abroad website for an online application. The first round application deadline is December 1, 2015, but students will be accepted on a rolling basis until the trip is filled. You can also contact Angela Lowery with any questions you may have. Limited scholarship funding may be available for a student with demonstrated financial need. The deadline for applying online for that funding is Wednesday, November 4, 2015. For highlights from past trips, visit the following page. For any additional questions, contact Angela Lowery.

Beyond Orange is the New Black: Mass Incarceration in the U.S.

March 6 to March 12, 2016: Spotlight on Criminal Justice System Reform in Southeast Michigan

The United States is the world's leading incarcerator. Through participating in education, direct servoitnb logoice, and advocacy, students in CCEL's inaugural Criminal Justice Alternative Spring Break will have the opportunity to delve into the complexities of the U.S. justice system and explore alternative views of justice.

Participants will primarily volunteer in Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor, Michigan with American Friends Service Committee, which advocates on behalf of incarcerated individuals and their loved ones who contact the nonprofit with a variety of concerns related to conditions of confinement, health care access, parole preparation, solitary confinement, and more. Students will tour a local jail and hear from formerly incarcerated individuals and other criminal justice experts about their experiences. Through lodging at the hip, colorful Hostel Detroit, participants will also have the opportunity to explore the rich cultural attractions Detroit has to offer.

The trip runs from March 6-March 12, 2016, and the fee is $385, which includes transportation, lodging, entertainment, and most meals. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until Tuesday, January 19, 2016, or until the trip is filled. Visit the following page for complete details, and contact Adrian Griffin with any additional questions.

Cumberland Island National Seashore

March 5 to March 11, 2016: Spotlight on Environmental Conservation and Restoration group jumping on beach

Students will serve with the National Park Service on America's largest wilderness island, located off the coast of southern Georgia. The group will live on the island and learn about the unique ecosystem while participating in environmental conservation projects, such as trailwork and restoring habitats by removing invasive plant species.

Cumberland Island is beautiful, unique, and accessible only by boat. The island supports a diversity of habitats including salt marshes, sand dunes, the country's largest surviving maritime oak forest, and a 17 mile undeveloped beach. It has a fascinating human history spanning almost five centuries and is home to wild horses, armadillos, alligators, and nesting loggerhead sea turtles.

Trip fee is approximately $325, which covers ferry, park entrance, food, lodging, and ground transportation from Jacksonville. Students are responsible for their own travel to our meeting point (the airport in Jacksonville, Florida). Stay tune for the trip application and additional details. For highlights from past trips, visit the following page. For more information, contact Betsy Banks.