Alternative Breaks

Students on an Alternative Break Trip gathered around a group leader listening to instructions for clean up.

Teaching English to kids in the Dominican Republic. Working in community gardens around Buffalo, NY. Building homes for families in Charlottesville, Virginia. These are just a few of the life-changing opportunities that students have experienced through the Alternative Break program.

2021 Trip Details

In the interest of student and staff safety and as a precaution against COVID-19, all 2021 Alternative Break Trips will be based in Buffalo, NY.
  • Access to Education - January 19-22
  • Civic Engagement - January 18-22
  • Homelessness & Poverty Alleviation - March 15-19
  • Sustainability & Food Insecurity - March 15-19

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Trip Details

The Student Engagement office is excited to offer Alternative Break Trips right in our own community! Each trip will address an issue that is affecting the Buffalo community, allowing students to connect to their passions for helping others while directly providing service for the Buffalo/Niagara region.

Access to Education - Buffalo, NY

January 19 – January 22, 2021

Working with local schools and educational organizations in the Buffalo community, participants will learn about the financial, academic, social and health barriers facing K-12 students as well as the impact of these barriers on college access and completion. Participants will learn about community schools and the holistic approach needed to support students’ success both inside and outside of the classroom.

Civic Engagement - Buffalo, NY

January 18 – January 22, 2021

On this exciting alternative break trip, students will explore the Buffalo area and learn how to be more civically engaged. Participants will learn about critical challenges facing the local community, interact with local leaders, and perform short-term projects with community agencies that work to enact positive social change in Western New York. Additionally, participants will get the opportunity to engage with local officials and learn how to become life-long active citizens.

Homelessness & Poverty Alleviation - Buffalo, NY

March 15 –  March 19, 2021

Each year, an estimated 5,500 individuals are homeless in the Western New York area; over half of these individuals are experiencing homelessness for the first time. Additionally, deep poverty is even more concentrated in the city which contains 48% of households with incomes below $10,000. Participants on this trip will explore a variety of social issues that intersect with issues of homelessness and poverty in the Buffalo area and volunteer with various community organizations that provide support and resources to affected populations.

Sustainability & Food Insecurity - Buffalo, NY

March 15 –  March 19, 2021

In Western New York, more than 45% of people live below the poverty line in Buffalo and Erie County, and more than 12% of Erie County is food insecure. Of the 12% of Erie County that is food insecure, about 20% are children and over 60,000 people receive SNAP benefits. Participants of this trip will learn about how organizations around the city of Buffalo are working to combat issues of food insecurity and develop sustainable options for their community members. Participants will learn about food deserts, community gardens and complete community service projects that will increase the long-term sustainability of the Buffalo community. 

Application Deadline

Students who are interested in participating in an Alternative Break Trip must apply by October 2, 2020 at 12:00 p.m. EST.

Spend Your Break Making A Difference

Alternative Break programs let you volunteer, perform community service and have unique learning opportunities during your fall break (Thanksgiving), winter break or spring break. By spending time immersed in a new community, you’ll learn about your role as a global citizen, make new friends and connections, and discover how you can become an agent of change.

The projects that students participate with address issues such as: Education, Environment, Civil Rights, Homelessness, Hunger, Literacy, and Poverty.

After your trip, you’ll be able to share the lessons you learned with your local community, and continue to lead a life of active citizenship.

Who Can Go?

Any UB student can apply for the Alternative Break program. Each Alternative Break trip typically has 8-15 student participants, two student Team Leaders and two Staff Advisers. Students travel as a group to their specified destination with the Staff Advisers.


The cost for Alternative Break trips ranges widely depending on the trip, transportation costs and other factors. Approximate costs are listed when available. If you are accepted for a trip, you will receive a more detailed estimate. Financial support may be available; please contact the Student Engagement office for more information.

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