Alternative Break Program

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Alternative Spring Break (ASB) 

ASB 2018 Applications Now Available!

Join RMU students and staff for ASB 2018 as they travel to Knoxville, Tennessee to partner with Operation Backyard, a program of the Knoxville Leadership Foundation.  The group will perform home repairs for low income families, the elderly and those with disabilities in the inner city.  No construction skills are needed.  You will learn on the job.

Dates:  Sunday, March 4 - Saturday, March 10

Fee: $100; and students must commit to raising additional funds with guidance from ELCI

Staff: Charles Forrester, Area Coordinator, Residence Life
          Lauren Speerhas, Assistant Director, Center for Student Success

Mode of Travel: Mini-vans

Accommodations: Local church; group prepares its own meals

Sightseeing: At the group's discretion

Applications are now available in Engaged Learning and Community Involvement (ELCI), Nicholson 269 (inside the Student Life suite).  Completed applications are due back no later than Friday, January 12, 2018.

Selection Process: If more than 10 students apply, a committee will select an intentionally diverse (in all aspects) group of students to attend.

Questions?  Email Donna Anderson, Senior Director, Engaged Learning & Community Involvement at

Why ASB?

Do you want to make a big difference in the lives of others over spring break? Interested in visiting another region of the country?  ASB trips take students to domestic locations to explore social justice themes. Trips help students think critically about their role in the global society through service, activism, inquiry and leadership.  Students are challenged to step out of their comfort zone while giving back.

Putting on a roof in Knoxville, Tennessee, in partnership with Knoxville Leadership Foundation's Operation Backyard


RMU’s Alternative Spring Break program encourages students to become active citizens and life-long learners by immersing them in diverse communities throughout the country as they engage in hands-on service and critical reflection regarding the causes of and potential solutions to an array of challenging social justice issues.
  • Immerse participants in a new cultural context
  • Raise awareness about social justice issues, the structures that perpetuate them, and explore potential solutions
  • Engage participants in meaningful volunteer service
  • Connect the social justice issues addressed during the Alternative Spring Break trips with social justice issues facing the Pittsburgh region
  • Encourage personal reflection through the lens of service

The Alternative Spring Break program continues to evolve to reflect the interests of RMU students.  In recent years, groups of students and staff have traveled to:

  • Knoxville, Tennessee, to do home repairs for low income families with Knoxville Leadership Foundation's Operation Backyard
  • Salem, Virginia, near Roanoke to volunteer at a food bank and pantry with Feeding America Southwest Virginia
  • Washington, D.C., to address hunger and homelessness by working in soup kitchens, homeless shelters, transitional housing units, and food pantries in partnership with Youth Service Opportunities Project 
  • Birmingham, Alabama, Concord, North Carolina, and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to build affordable housing for the working poor with Habitat for Humanity
  • Atlanta, Georgia, to do flood relief work
  • Appalachian Mountains in Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and Ohio to do home repairs for elderly and low income rural residents
  • Northern New Jersey to do Hurricane Sandy relief work in partnership with United Way
  • New Orleans, Louisiana, to do relief work in the aftermath of Hurricanes Rita and Katrina
There are two elements to the program - the volunteer service and reflection; and the immersion into the local community and culture.  It is our intent that students will begin to understand and think critically about social justice issues in context; their causes and potential solutions.

Processing meals in Southwest, Virginia, (2016) in partnership with Feeding America.

Interested in learning more?  Stop by the Engaged Learning and Community Involvement office in Nicholson Center, second floor.