Alvernia University Alternative Breaks organizes weekend and week-long service and immersion trips for students to inspire and empower them to lead lives dedicated to serving the underserved, promoting peace and justice, and working towards the common good. Centered around the pillars of education, direct service, and reflection, Alternative Breaks trips address pertinent social issues and provide students the opportunity to learn, serve, and reflect with a small community that fosters personal growth and promotes radical love. The hope is that these short-term experiences will challenge students to make a lifelong commitment to servant leadership and active citizenship.
Alvernia University Alternative Breaks envisions an engaged campus that values community and promotes the common good.
Alternative Breaks is a large commitment. Participants will meet regularly throughout the year leading up to their break. Meetings will have a variety of topics--icebreakers, introduction to Alternative Breaks, team-building activities, movies or information about the trip issue, Drug and Alcohol Policy (We are illegal drug and alcohol free!), and, of course, fundraising.
All trips will also participate in some large-group Alternative Breaks activities such as the Kick-Off Meeting, Prep4Break Sessions and so on.
Each Alternative Break has one or two student leaders to accompany one staff advisor. Alternative Break Site Leaders will help plan meetings, organize fundraisers, communicate with their group, plan reflections, gain valuable life skills, and have a ton of fun!
Applications are available on PAX.
2021-2022 Alternative Break Sites
Alvernia Bound: A Tradition of Service (August 20-25, 2021)
Alternative Breaks are an Alvernia tradition where students get to immerse themselves in a week of service, reflection and community bonding. This trip will allow incoming students to get acquainted with Alvernia, its Franciscan tradition, and our surrounding Reading community!
Civil Rights Pilgrimage: Alabama & Tennessee (January 8-15, 2022 )
Spend a week learning about the history and progress of the Civil Rights Movement. Visit historic sites and hear stories from Civil Rights veterans and family members of those impacted by racial injustice in the United States.
Immersion Experience: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (January 2022 - Dates To Be Determined)
A week of teaching, serving and learning in which students will assist the Bernardine Sisters (founders of Alvernia) with the operations of their school and experience life in the Los Tres Brazos barrio. They will build relationships to span miles and last lifetimes.
We invite you to support our partnership with the Bernardine Sisters in Santo Domingo.
Border Links: Tuscan, Arizona & Nogales, Mexico (March 6-12, 2022)
Learn about the injustices taking place at the border of our nation and discover the root causes of migration.
Interfaith Encounters: Philadelphia, PA (March 6-12, 2022)
A week long immersion experience for college students to meet, interact, and work with members of religious groups different from their own. The program combines interfaith learning, visits to 5-6 diverse faith communities, and intensive community service.
Franciscan Mission Service: Washington D.C. (March 6-12, 2022)
Build intellectual, emotional, spiritual, and physical awareness of the root causes and realities of poverty in the United States and work with local agencies that serve those in poverty through this alternative break to Washington, DC.
Franciscan Missionary Union: El Camino de Santiago, Spain (March 6-12, 2022)
On El Camino de Santiago, follow in the footsteps of medieval pilgrims who ventured from all parts or Europe to the city of Compostela, Spain. Tradition holds that the Apostle James evangelized Spain and after his martyrdom his followers brought his remains to the town of Compostela in Northwest Spain. This is a trip that will push you both physically and spiritually!
Helping at Home: Reading, PA (May - Dates To Be Determined)
“Next door to the university and yet worlds away.” This phrase encapsulates what students experience while ministering to people in the Reading area. While assisting diverse non-profit agencies, students are exposed to the vast social and economic inequalities that characterize the United States’ urban landscape, of which Reading is a poignant microcosm.
Bethlehem Farm: Alderson, West Virginia (May - Dates To Be Determined)
Live simply in prayerful community while caring for creation in a beautiful part of West Virginia.
To keep the cost of the trips low for students, Alternative Breaks has a rigorous fundraising regimen. All students are required to participate in fundraising. The biggest and most successful fundraiser is our letter-writing campaign, deemed "Adopt-a-Team." Each student will write letters to friends, families, local businesses, politicians, and more, asking for donations (i.e. adoption) for his or her trip. In addition, each group will perform various large group fundraiser throughout the year such as selling gift cards, working concessions at the Sovereign Center, selling pizza, or doing a bake sale. There is no specific amount each student needs to raise, but rather a goal that each trip must raise.