Alternative Spring Breaks

The Volunteer Center has offered USC students the opportunity to explore numerous issues and problems across the U.S. since 1992, when we began to take students to the Navajo Nation in Utah. Since then, we have built long-lasting partnerships with governmental, non-profit and community organizations throughout the country.

We also offer opportunities for international service.  During Spring 2016, we volunteered with organizations addressing issues of homelessness, environmental conservation, health care disparities, cultural preservation, and juvenile justice reform. Please read the descriptions below for our trips for 2016-2017.

For general questions about the Alternative Spring Break Program, email us at asb@usc.edu or check out our info session dates in the Fall!


Interested in planning an Alternative Break trip?
Apply for a position at the Volunteer Center by April 12, 2017!




Costa Rica

Trip Title: “Working with Children and the Environment: A Dual Approach in Helping the Costa Rican Community”
To Apply Click Here: CLOSED
Deadline: CLOSED
Trip Dates: March 11, 2017-March 18, 2017

Journey to the expanses of deep rainforest and jungle, towering volcanoes, and stretches of beaches that embody la costa rica. Renown for its incredible biodiversity, Costa Rica’s jungles hold a remarkable 500,000 species including a wide variety of birds, monkeys, frogs, sloths, big cats, and reptile species including the world’s fastest running lizard, the spiny-tailed iguana. Travel to this part of the Central American isthmus and experience its natural beauty and diverse wildlife.

ASB Costa Rica participants will stay in the town of Pejibaye, meet the local community and explore the food and culture. Volunteering will be split between two locales, a local elementary school and the Biological Reserve. In the local elementary school, volunteering will consist of helping with painting, tree-planting, and working with the children. In the reserve, it will consist of trail reconstruction and habitat restoration. These volunteer services will allow us to contribute to Costa Rica’s commitment to environmental preservation as well as give back to the local community that graciously houses us.

ASB Participants will also explore the cultural remains from the oldest known settlements in the Turrialba Valley, once home to the original hunter-gathers of Costa Rica. Then, we will enter Calle Chirraca, our canyoning destination, where we will rappel down waterfalls, zip line across canopies, and walk across a hanging bridge as we explore the deepest reaches of the valley. Next, we travel to a stop on the edge of the Pacuare River, mentioned by National Geographic as one of the top five rafting destinations in the world. Experience white water rafting on the rapids and then fall asleep surrounded by rainforests, with the sights and sounds of wildlife echoing in the canyons around us. Finish the trip with a scenic hike through the rainforest and a tour of an indigenous family farm.

Live la pura vida, the pure life, and volunteer with us as we fight to preserve the culture and natural environment of Costa Rica.

Approximate Cost: $1,615 USD* per participant

Alternative Spring Break Costa Rica, Guatemala & Utah Info Sessions:

  • Fri., Oct. 21 @ 12 pm
  • TBA
  • unless otherwise indicated the location for info sessions is SKS410

If you have more questions about ASB Costa Rica or would like to RSVP for an information session send an email to costaricaASB@gmail.com.




Trip Title: “Building a Foundation for Growth: Opportunities Based on Educational Infrastructure in Rural Guatemala”
To Apply Click Here: Alternative Spring Break Application (CLOSED)
Deadline: CLOSED
Trip Dates: March 11, 2017-March 18, 2017


Guatemala is an exotic and visually inspiring country with huge volcano’s reaching up to 12,000 feet over crystalline lakes and picturesque towns. Once part of the Mayan Empire, Guatemala is a culturally rich and diverse country that is home to over 20 indigenous languages and a population that is comprised of somewhere around 50% Indigenous people who still maintain their style of dress, traditions, language and culture.

However, in spite of its rich environmental resources, Guatemala remains one of the poorest countries in the world in terms of GDP. Many Guatemalans travel far and wide to work for large landowning corporations and make only enough money to put food on the table. Over 50% of Guatemalan children suffer from malnutrition and Guatemala’s educational system is currently ranked second from the worst among Central American and Caribbean countries. Many children drop out after their first year of school, and there is another mass exodus during the middle school years. Many children lack adequate resources and encouragement on their studies, and families can choose to pull their children out of school to work.

Participants of ASB Guatemala will travel to Retalhuleu, a city in southwestern Guatemala, and work with a local school to construct educational facilities for the children of the community. Students will get to spend time with the children in the mornings working on various activities with them and in the afternoon students will transition to assisting with a construction project.

Approximate Cost: $1,500 USD* per participant

Alternative Spring Break Guatemala, Costa Rica & Utah Info Sessions:

  • Fri., Oct. 21 @ 12 pm
  • TBA
  • unless otherwise indicated the location for info sessions is SKS410

If you have more questions about ASB Guatemala an email to USCasbguatemala@gmail.com.




Trip Title: Disaster Relief Efforts in Louisiana
To Apply Click Here: CLOSED
Deadline: CLOSED
Trip Dates: March 11, 2017-March 18, 2017

The worst disaster after the Hurricane Sandy, the Louisiana flooding in mid-August has displaced more than 70,000 residents. There have been at least 13 reported deaths from this catastrophe. Furthermore, tens of thousands of homes are damaged.

In the midst of the presidential campaign and the 2016 Olympics, this disaster received little to no media coverage. However, volunteers from around the nation have answered the call to serve. Now it’s your opportunity to become a servant-leader in Louisiana.

Through ASB Louisiana, students will have the opportunity to aid in the construction of homes for flood victims and provide relief to the most neglected. Additionally, students will support the homeless population by assisting with day-to-day activities and serving in other capacities as needed. By enhancing the lives of others, participants will learn about the rich culture of Louisiana and explore the concepts of cultural humility and gratitude. Some of the experiences include visiting the National World War II Museum, Mardi Gras World and riding the Canal Street Ferry. This cultural exchange and exploration is available to all USC students. ASB Louisiana was formerly known as ASB New Orleans; however, the name was changed because students may be visiting multiple cities in Louisiana to render aid and learn about its history and culture.

Estimated Cost: $850

If you have more questions about ASB Louisiana send an email to uscasblouisiana@gmail.com


Trip Title: TBA
To Apply Click Here: CLOSED
Deadline: CLOSED
Trip Dates: March 11, 2017-March 18, 2017

In more recent years, homelessness in New York City has reached the highest numbers since the Great Depression of the 1930s. With unfortunately around 80,600 homeless people, which includes 15,000 families with 23,000 homeless children sleeping each night in a New York City shelter system.

There has been a rise in homelessness recently, but sadly it is often neglected by people and the media. There are multiple ways for people to provide help through social service groups, medical clinics, homeless shelters, soup kitchens, etc… Now here’s your opportunity to serve and provide assistance to the homeless in New York from March 12-19th.

Through Alternative Spring Break New York, students will have the opportunity to travel to New York and provide hands-on service and aid to the homeless. By partnering with a non-profit organization, we will be given a chance to lend a helping hand to the community and attempt to make an impact. By assisting those in need, participants will learn more about the rich culture and history of New York. Students will have the opportunity to visit the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, National September 11 Memorial & Museum, and so much more!

Approximate Cost: $1050 USD* per participant

Info Sessions:

  • 10/19 @ 2pm in SKS 410
  • 10/20 @ 5pm in SKS 410

If you have more questions about ASB New York or would like to RSVP for an information session send an email to newyork.usc@gmail.com.



Trip Title: “Conservation Nation – Exploring Sustainable Environmental Practices and Appreciation in Washington ”
To Apply Click Here: Alternative Spring Break Application (CLOSED)
Deadline: CLOSED
Trip Dates: March 11, 2017-March 18, 2017

Orcas (2)

“A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.” -Franklin D. Roosevelt

ASB Orcas Island focuses on exploring sustainable practices that can create a better understanding on preserving our natural environments. USC students will be traveling to Orcas Island, located in northwest Washington and just a short ferry ride away from Seattle. Orcas Island is the largest of the San Juan Island with over 5000 acres of land, and is known for its distinctive natural beauty.

Our service trip provides the opportunity to serve the park rangers by working hands-on to restore the environment within Moran State Park. Past projects have included trail restoration and construction on the scenic Mt. Constitution trail. ASB Orcas Island is an exciting opportunity for students who love the outdoors. Not only will students better the area, but also be able to explore everything the island had to offer. Moran features beautiful trails, lakes, and waterfalls, which participants will get to enjoy on their time off. The island hosts a variety of adventures like kayaking, biking, and hiking that participants can take part in. In the past, participants have said that working and living in such a remote environment “puts the world in perspective.”

Students will spend a week volunteering in Orcas Island at Moran State Park, as well as a one-day stay in Seattle to explore the city. This will allow students to have hands-on and holistic experience with sustainable practices in the state park as well as the city.

Find out what the ASB Orcas experience is like! Check out this blog or this blog from ASB Orcas Island participants! 

Read about ASB Orcas Island in the local newspaper

If you have more questions about ASB Orcas Island or would like to RSVP for an information session send an email to orcasislandUSC@gmail.com.

Info Sessions:

• Wednesday 10/12 @ 5:00pm in SKS410
• Monday 10/17   @ 12:00pm in SKS410
• Thursday 10/20 @ 5:00pm in SKS410

Approximate Cost: $755 USD* per participant


Trip Title: “Making a Difference in the Lives of Homeless and Rescued Animals”
To Apply Click Here: CLOSED
Deadline: CLOSED
Trip Dates: March 11, 2017 – March 18, 2017


Around the World, countless animals wander the streets homeless looking for food and shelter. Some establishments, like community animal shelters, provide temporary housing and attempt to find these animals permanent homes. But due to their large numbers paired with shelters’ lack of space and low funds, many animals face euthanasia. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), approximately 2.7 million animals are euthanized each year in the US. That is approximately 7,397 adoptable cats and dogs that are euthanized every day- and that is just in the US! Organizations like the Best Friends Animal Society and other non-kill organizations provide safe homes for rescued and abandoned animals until they are adopted. 

Alternative Spring Break (ASB) Utah is a service-based trip that aims to address issues concerning animal rights. In partnership with the Best Friends Animal Society-Utah, the largest animal society in the nation which houses around 1,600 homeless animals, ASB Utah will have a chance to help the animals both directly and indirectly. Participants will do service projects like trail work, light landscaping, painting and cleaning dog and cat buildings as well as have a chance to work hands-on with the animals at the sanctuary. From walking dogs to brushing cats to giving pigs belly rubs, there are a variety of things to do for all animal lovers who want to make an impact! Best Friends’ Animal Sanctuary located in Kanab, Utah has 8 separate animal areas: Cat World, Bunny House, Parrot Garden, Dogtown, Piggy Paradise, Horse Haven, Rescued Village Rabbits, and Wild Friends designated to suit the needs of each and every animal. Each and every one of the animals at the sanctuary has his or her own unique personality and are waiting to find the perfect family to call their own. Apply to meet them all and to help make an impact on their lives! 

You will also have the chance to explore Kanab, Utah which is known for its beautiful scenery and outdoor adventures. Viewing the milky way at Bryce Canyon National Park and exploring the beauty of Zion Natural Park are just a few trips ASB Utah has in store! The trips costs include housing, meals, transportation, and cultural excursions. For any additional information please feel free to contact asbutah@usc.edu.


If you have any questions about ASB Utah or would like to RSVP for an information session send an email to asbutah@usc.edu.

Alternative Spring Break Utah Information Sessions:

  • Thurs., Oct. 20 @ 12 pm
  • Fri., Oct. 21 @ 12 pm
  • unless otherwise indicated the location for info sessions is SKS410

Approximate Cost: $695 USD* per participant


*AB Trip costs may change slightly in the future. These preliminary estimates are presented for the purposes of helping students decide which trips fit within their budget. Fundraising opportunities are available, for more details visit “Fundraising for AB Trips.”