Carnegie Mellon University

Alternative Break Trips

Take an in-depth look at social issues impacting the world, including Pittsburgh, through various Alternative Break trip opportunities. 

 Alternative Break trips occur during Fall Break, Spring Break, as well as over the summer months.  The vast majority of service trips are international, with past trips including the Dominican Republic, Panama, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, India, Rwanda, Haiti and others. Domestic opportunities exist 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 country. 

Pittsburgh Alternative Break

Students staying in Pittsburgh over Spring Break can participate in Pittsburgh Alternative Break, a week-long, student-led program designed to give students a more in-depth look at social issues impacting Pittsburgh through hands-on direct service projects, reflective learning discussions and cultural experiences.

Registration for the Pittsburgh Alternative Break program is now open!  Pittsburgh Alternative Break will run from March 4-7, and provides an immersive experience for students into the history, culture, and context of Pittsburgh. This year’s focus is the neighborhood of Larimer, and students will spend the week engaging in direct service projects, on-site visits with community-based organizations, and daily group bonding and reflection activities. Registration is open through February 20. The program is open to graduate and undergraduate students, and there is no cost to participate. 

See highlights of the 2022 Pittsburgh Alternative Break here

In past years, approximately 10-12 service trips are planned annually by student organizations and advised by the SLICE  and the Office of International Education (OIE). Check out some of trips that have taken place throughout the past few years.

a large group of students on a hillside collecting trash and garbage

Engineers Without Borders

The Carnegie Mellon chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) is part of a national, nonprofit organization with a network of more than 1,000 professionals and students working to reduce poverty and improve global sustainability. The chapter works on local and international engineering and sustainability projects to provide communities with tailored solutions to issues such as water distribution, water purification, power, shelter, sanitation and infrastructure improvement.

students having fun on each others backs creating a triangle formation

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 with community members to develop accounting, operations and management skills.

students in medical scrubs smiling and standing in front of a hospital

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 focuses 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.

four students smiling on top of a mountain in the deep countryside


Juntos is a CMU organization that partners with an NGO, Bridges to Community, which develops poverty alleviation strategies with local communities in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. Each year, two to four initiatives are developed by Juntos members to address the concerns of their partner community. Initiatives range from education, health, environmental sustainability and art.