Alternative Break Service Trips
There are approximately 10-12 service trips that are planned annually by student organizations and advised by the Office of Student Leadership, Involvement, and Civic Engagement (SLICE) and the Office of International Education (OIE). While most service trips occur during spring break, a few travel during the winter or summer break. Their work focuses on an equally expansive set of challenging social issues by staffing medical clinics, teaching English in classrooms, creating business development plans with local business leaders, or working alongside community members on development projects that address sanitation, water issues, and more.
The vast majority of our service trips are international, with past trips volunteering in countries such as the Dominican Republic, Panama, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, India, Rwanda, Haiti and more. In addition to the many international service trips that occur, we have some domestic trips as well. The CMU chapter of Habitat for Humanity focuses on affordable housing and travels twice a year to help build homes in a variety of communities across the U.S. Lastly, students also have the opportunity to stay in the city for spring break and participate in Pittsburgh Alt Break, a week-long, student-led program designed to give students a more in-depth look at social issues impacting Pittsburgh through hands-on service, reflective learning discussions and cultural experiences.
How to Get Connected
Applications will come out very early in the fall semester from the student organizations that are facilitating their alternative break trips. To connect with and learn more about these student organizations, attend the Volunteer Fair and Activities Fair, or check them out on The Bridge. Trips fill up quickly so don’t delay. Many service trip organizations have local projects which will need volunteers as well.
Looking to launch a new service trip? Contact SLICE, to get started.
Pittsburgh Alternative Break
The Pittsburgh Alternative Break is an opportunity designed to give students a more in-depth look at social issues impacting Pittsburgh through hands-on service, reflective learning discussions and cultural experiences. Each year we have a different social focus – last year’s focus was housing and gentrification issues in different neighborhoods in Pittsburgh.
The Pittsburgh Alternative Break allows students to learn, take action, and connect to others who are interested in service.
CMU in Haiti
The club travels to Haiti to work and collaborate with various grassroots organizations and community organizers in Haiti. CMU in Haiti's goal is to fund and promote humanitarian efforts to support grassroots activism and to forge a strong connection between the CMU campus and Haiti.
CMU in Puerto Rico
CMU in Puerto Rico seeks to understand how communities in Puerto Rico responded to hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 to recover, rebuild, and improve their climate resilience for the future in the absence of government. Throughout the year, the group hosts a speaker series to educate the entire CMU community about disaster recovery, sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, and Puerto Rico's history and economy. There is also an opportunity for interested students to travel to the island to experience disaster recovery work and climate resilience planning first-hand.
Engineers Without Borders
The Carnegie Mellon chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) is part of a national, nonprofit organization with a network of over 1000 professionals and students working to reduce poverty and improve global sustainability. The CMU chapter of EWB works on local and international engineering and sustainability projects to provide communities with tailored solutions to development issues such as water distribution systems, water purification, power, shelter, sanitation, and infrastructure improvement.
Global Business Brigades
Global Business Brigades is part of the international non-profit, Global Brigades, whose mission is to work with under- resourced global communities to resolve health and economic disparities. Global Business Brigades focuses on business education and economic development for under-resourced micro-enterprises in developing countries. The organization works in partnership with community members to develop accounting, operations, and management skills.
Global Medical Brigades
Global Medical Brigades is part of the international non-profit, Global Brigades, whose mission is to work with under- resourced global communities to resolve health and economic disparities. Global Medical Brigades is the focused on medical outreach and education. The organization supports free medical clinics in rural communities abroad while completing projects to sustainably improve public health. The chapter helped pioneer the vision station in one of the clinics, where they used auto refractors to determine patients’ prescriptions and give them glasses.
Global Public Health Brigades
Global Business Brigades is part of the international non-profit, Global Brigades, whose mission is to work with under- resourced global communities to resolve health and economic disparities. Global Public Health Brigades focuses on increasing access to public health initiatives and increasing education around key health concerns. The organization partners with communities abroad to improve infrastructure, build healthy lifestyles and teach their youth about different aspects of public health and medicine.
Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity is a global nonprofit that aims to achieve a world where everyone has a decent place to live. CMU's Habitat for Humanity chapter leads domestic trips as well as local weekend trips to help fulfill Habitat for Humanity’s goal of providing low-cost housing. The group works in partnership with homeowners and helps them build their own homes. The chapter raises awareness about housing insecurity in the US and encourages CMU students to engage in the Greater Pittsburgh community.
Juntos is a CMU organization that partners with an NGO, Bridges to Community. Bridges to Community develops poverty alleviation strategies with local communities in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. Each year, two to four initiatives are developed by Juntos’ members in order to address the concerns of their partner community. Initiatives range from education, health, environmental sustainability, and art.
Project Rwanda aims to enhance ties between CMU campuses while positively benefiting Rwandan youth by completing a service project in Kigali, Rwanda in a joint effort with CMU-Qatar and CMU-Africa. The organization mainly focuses on furthering higher education in Rwanda by supporting local teachers. Members of Project Rwanda also work to enhance the experience of CMU-Africa students visiting the Pittsburgh campus.