Alternative Break Service Trips

The Volunteer Center has offered USC students the opportunity to explore numerous issues 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. The opportunity to travel while engaging in community service continues to be an important element of the unique USC experience. Every year, the locations of the trips changes based on student interest, community need, and our budget. You can see which service trips we have hosted in past years here.

Click below to read a trip’s description or scroll down to learn about our current trips:



08.10.2018 Update

  • We have open positions for trip leaders for ASB Guatemala, ASB San Francisco, and ASB Navajo Nation. Apply to be a Trip Coordinator as soon as possible if you’re interested! Applications are open on a rolling basis and will close as soon as the position is filled.
  • AWB/ASB Trip Applications for 2018-2019 will be released soon! Read about the experiences of past participants in the videos, blogs, and journals shared at the end of each trip’s description! We hope they inspire you to be a part of the Alternative Breaks program this year!
  • Additional Grant Opportunities will be made available 2018-2019 for Undergrad and Graduate students thanks to the generosity of the Undergraduate Student Government and Graduate Student Government! Sign up for our newsletter to get information about the breaks as soon as it becomes available! 


Trip Title: “Alternative Winter Break: Hurricane Harvey Relief”
To Apply Click Here: Alternative Break Application 
Deadline: Closed Until Fall 2018
Trip Dates: Approximately December 14, 2017 – December 20, 2017 (Dates for 2018-2019 TBD)

The southern coast of Texas and other surrounding states were devastated by Hurricane Harvey this August. According to CNN, Harvey dumped an estimated 27 trillion gallons of rain over Texas and Louisiana over the course of six days and set a record for the most rainfall from a tropical cyclone in the US – 51 inches of rain.

This winter break, spend a few days helping local families rebuild their homes before the holidays. We are partnering with All Hands Volunteers to assist their relief efforts in Aransas Pass, Texas. Volunteers will be taught basic demolition and construction skills such as repainting, removing debris, and replacing floors. In addition to this service project, students will explore cultural locations, local food, and take part in activities in the Southern Gulf of Texas in cities such as Corpus Christi, San Antonio, and/or Houston. This trip is co-sponsored by the Office for Residential Education! All USC students are welcome to apply!

If you have any more questions about AWB Hurricane Harvey please email

Approximate Cost: $400 USD per participant**

**The approximate cost above includes only a one-way flight to Corpus Christi, Texas since this trip ends on the 20th. This will allow students to separately book their flights home for the holidays if they do not wish to return to LAX. Staff will assist all students in coordinating their return flights.

Info Sessions for AWB Hurricane Harvey: 
Wednesday 10/25 @ 4:00pm  Click to RSVP  in SKS 410  
Monday 10/30       @ 4:00pm  Click to RSVP  in SKS 410  


Trip Title: “Decolonizing Indigenous Narratives: Navajo Cultural Preservation and Advocacy”
To Apply Click Here: Alternative Spring Break Application 
Deadline: Closed Until Fall 2018
Trip Dates: Approximately March 9, 2019-March 16, 2019

The Navajo Nation is the largest Native American Reservation in the United States and the cultural home to the Navajo people, marked with beautiful sandstone mesas, towering buttes, colorful canyons, and dramatic desert scenery.  The Navajo people share rich cultural traditions and are well known for their contributions to the world at large, including their beautiful artwork and the role of the Navajo Code Talkers in WWII. However, the Navajo face many social and economic challenges, including maintaining their cultural identity in the face of globalization, an unemployment rate of 42%, and political disenfranchisement.

Since 1991, Alternative Spring Break Navajo Nation has enhanced the lives of both students and the communities they serve through its focus on cultural exchange. During this trip, students will travel to Thoreau, New Mexico and partner with St. Bonaventure Indian Mission and School and Dig Deep on a variety of service projects, including building water cisterns for homes without running water and tutoring Navajo children. In addition to service projects, students will live on-site at the mission and have the opportunity to participate in cultural and recreational activities such as visiting museums and nearby national landmarks, meeting with representatives of the Navajo government, and sampling traditional foods.

If you have any more questions about ASB Navajo Nation please email

Approximate Cost: $650 USD per participant*

Itinerary: Draft of Navajo Nation Daily Schedule

Info Sessions for Navajo: 



Trip Title: “Bridging the Gap”
To Apply Click Here: Alternative Spring Break Application
Deadline: Closed Until Fall 2018

Trip Dates: Approximately March 9, 2019-March 16, 2019

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

This rise in homelessness is sadly 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 10th-17th, 2018.

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 hear their stories and learn about the root causes of homelessness. Students will also more about the rich culture and history of New York by visiting the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum! If you have more questions about ASB New York send an email to

Approximate Cost: $1200 USD* per participant

Info Sessions for New York:




Orcas (2)

Trip Title: “Conservation Nation – Exploring Sustainable Environmental Practices in Washington ”
To Apply Click Here: Alternative Spring Break Application
Deadline: Closed Until Fall 2018

Trip Dates: Approximately March 9, 2019-March 16, 2019


“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 of 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. If you have more questions about ASB Orcas Island send an email to

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

Approximate Cost: $750 USD* per participant

Info Sessions for Orcas Island: 



Trip Title: “Constructing Education: Infrastructural Development of Rural Schools”
To Apply Click Here: CLOSED
Deadline: Closed Until Fall 2018
Trip Dates: Approximately March 9, 2019-March 16, 2019

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 among the worst 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 partner with a local construction company to create recreational areas 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. If you have more questions about ASB Guatemala send an email to

Approximate Cost: $1,500 USD* per participant

Itinerary: ASB Guatemala_Itinerary Draft NEW!


Trip Title: “Juvenile Justice Reform & At-Risk Youth”
To Apply Click Here: CLOSED
Deadline: Closed Until Fall 2018
Trip Dates: Approximately March 9, 2019-March 16, 2019

Every year, an estimated 2.1 million under the age of 18 are incarcerated every year, and it is apparent just hours away from campus. At-risk youth in San Francisco is one of the most vulnerable populations in the City. At such a transitional age, they are at risk of not transitioning successfully into adulthood or reaching adulthood at all. They face significant challenges, such as unemployment, homelessness, lack of basic academic and work readiness skills, that often lead to involvement in the justice system.

The incarceration crisis we have in our nation, especially among our young people, is sadly often ignored. We can help in a multitude of ways by listening to the stories of those affected, changing misconstrued narratives, and working with organizations that give at-risk youth the opportunities to pursue a better future. Here’s your opportunity to do so in San Francisco from March 10th-17th, 2018.

Participants of this Alternative Spring Break will have the opportunity to travel to San Francisco, work with at-risk youth, and learn about America’s juvenile justice system. Before leaving, students will have the opportunity to learn about the school to prison pipeline, race and socioeconomic positions that play a role in the history of incarceration among juveniles. This will be done through team meetings and field trips to nonprofits like Homeboy Industries.

While in San Francisco, students will spend mornings partnering with a non-profit organization that aims to give previously incarcerated and at-risk youth artistic and educational opportunities. In the afternoons and evenings, we will explore the rich culture and history of San Francisco and other organizations that do amazing work in the same realm.

If you have more questions about ASB San Francisco or would like to RSVP for an information session send an email to

See what participants on ASB San Francisco experienced through this visual journal created by Brian Hyun.

Approximate Cost: $600 USD* per participant

Trip Title: “McCarthy Honors: Making a Difference in the Lives of Rescued Animals”
To Apply Click Here: Alternative Spring Break Application
Deadline: Closed Until Fall 2018
Trip Dates: Approximately March 9, 2019-March 16, 2019

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. This trip is for McCarthy Honors College residents. 

Watch this video from Best Friends Animal Society for more information:

Approximate Cost: Free for McCarthy Honors College Residents (Cancellation Fee applies if you drop after drop deadline)

Info Sessions for Utah: 


*Alternative Break 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.”

Follow us on Facebook or subscribe to our Newsletter for updates about ASB 2018. For general questions about the Alternative Spring Break Program, email us at For more information about specific trips, email them directly or RSVP for a trip info session!

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