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Alternative Spring Break

Trade your beach towel for a tool belt this spring break. Take part in United Way’s Alternative Spring Break and work with other students to improve communities around the nation.

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Since ASB began in 2006, we’ve had

3,500students participate

“They‘ve lit a fire in me and there’s no telling where this is going to go from here.”

112,000hours of volunteer service completed

“We didn’t give up our spring break. We took advantage of it.”

2015 Projects

The 2015 ASB season is over, but take a look at the great projects hundreds of students undertook this year.

  • United Way Alternative Spring Break Powered by U by Kotex, Washington, DC — March 15-20: Join us this spring break in empowering women in service and advocacy. United Way in partnership with Kimberly-Clark Corporation (of U by Kotex) is hosting an Alternative Spring Break for 25 young women leaders from college campuses around the country. This week-long event in the Washington, DC area will focus on critical issues for women that might include human trafficking, STEM education for girls, teen health, woman leadership in various realms and more. Alongside some of the most driven and brilliant college-aged women, you'll spend your days carrying out service projects, advocating for policy change on Capitol Hill, and further developing your leadership skills. By night, you'll get to know each other and the nation's capital. Cost: Free. Find more info here. Deadline: Feb. 13.
  • El Paso, TX — March 8-14: You're in for a life-changing experience on the U.S., Mexico border in El Paso, Texas. On this ASB, you'll help build homes for families with the Lower Valley Housing Corporation while learning about the culture and history of this unique and vibrant community. El Paso, with its friendly, welcoming people, is ranked as one of the safest cities in the United States, yet also is home to some of the poorest ZIP codes in the country. In addition to building houses alongside the families that will be living in those homes, participants will have the opportunity to learn about the culture of the borderland and the transformative work being done by local agencies in El Paso. Participants will visit Fort Bliss military base, discuss strategies to fight poverty while touring a local homeless shelter, sample authentic Mexican cuisine, volunteer at the local food bank, and much more. The program fee covers participants meals, lodging and transportation once they arrive in El Paso. Ground transportation will be provided to and from the airport. Cost: $250. Read more here.
  • Biloxi, MS — March 22-28: Come experience the hospitality of the South and spend your spring break in a place United Way's ASB program has been committed for 10 years. The Mississippi Gulf Coast is home to the world’s longest man-made beach and overlooks the Gulf of Mexico for 62 miles.  Spend your days in service to  local communities as you explore United Way's community impact strategies and collaborate with students from around the country. Then, spend your nights just a block from the beach! Come celebrate recovery and resilience with the communities and people of the Gulf Coast as they prepare to mark the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Due to the generosity of a supporter, 20 students will be able to participate in this opportunity for just the cost of their transportation to and from Gulfport/Biloxi. Cost: Free. FULL. NO AVAILABLE SPOTS.
  • Williamson County, TN — March 16-20: Focus on health and food security. While staying in rural Williamson County, you'll spend days building a community garden. As a team, you'll work on design, layout, tilling and more. You'll also get to work with community families for whom English is not the primary language to help educate participants about the garden, how to preserve fresh foods, ways to cook with fresh herbs, and more. Additional projects include working with children and doing building and repair work. Ground transportation provided to and from the Nashville airport and bus terminal. Cost: $300. FULL. NO AVAILABLE SPOTS.


In all Break a Difference programs, participants have a choice of the following weeks: March 1-7; March 8-14; March 15-21; or March 22-28. Cost: $395 per participant. Have a group? Email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Read more here.

  • Baltimore, MD: Work to reduce homelessness by understanding poverty and increasing access to supportive services. ASB participants will staff food banks, upgrade transitional housing facilities and help maintain shelters.
  • Washington, DC: Help with homework, create arts and crafts programs and lead athletic activities at after-school sites. You’ll also get a chance to visit the Capitol and national monuments.
  • New York City, NY: Help out at various agencies dedicated to preventing homelessness and reducing poverty. Get out of New York’s touristy areas and explore a bit of what it takes to make ends meet in the nation’s largest city.
  • Newark, NJ: Facebook founder, Mark Zucherberg and other philanthropists have dedicated millions of dollars to transform the educational experience for Newark youth. ASB participants will provide enrichment services in after-school computer labs, arts and crafts, homework help and physical education programming. You’ll also get a taste of the Big Apple with a ferry ride to New York City.
  • Jersey Shore, NJ: More than two years after Hurricane Sandy devastated the Jersey Shore, hundreds of families are still displaced. Led by trained site supervisors, ASB participants will perform basic construction such as hanging drywall, insulating and painting homes to help families return home. You’ll also get a taste of the Big Apple with a ferry ride to New York City.
  • New Orleans, LA: Over the last decade, as New Orleans has rebuilt after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, an array of initiatives has developed not only to replace what was lost, but also to build some of the supports that didn't exist prior. ASB participants may help with urban gardens, youth development programs and environmental projects that help families keep more of their earnings while also reducing their carbon footprint.
  • Killeen/Fort Hood, TX: The world’s largest military base is the core of this Central Texas community. Military service impacts families in unique ways. This ASB will focus not only on providing direct services to military-connected children, but also on increasing volunteers’ understandings of the challenges and benefits military service provides to families. [NOTE: During the week of March 15-21, ASBers will help operate a full day camp every day as schools are closed for their Spring Break.]
  • Tucson, AZ: Six Boys and Girls Clubs serve the diverse populations that make up Tucson, including one on the Pasque Yaqui reservation. ASB participants will infuse enriched programming into each of these clubs to promote positive youth development. You’ll also get the chance to hike and visit Tucson’s historic downtown.  [NOTE: During the week of March 15-21, ASBers will help operate a full day camp every day as schools are closed for their Spring Break.]
  • San Francisco, CA: Beyond the Golden Gate Bridge and Union Square, the Bay Area boasts a series of rich, diverse communities. Youth development activities led by ASB participants will enrich learning for youth. You’ll also get the chance to venture to the Pacific Coast and into San Francisco.