SMU Alternative Breaks

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About Alternative Breaks

Alternative Breaks is a student organization offering direct service opportunities during every academic break, including Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer, and even some weekends! Alternative Breaks (AB) takes groups of students, student leaders, and faculty/staff to communities in need across the country and world to perform vital service with amazing organizations. Participants have the opportunity to do quality service, gain education about important social issues, and reflect on how they can create positive social change. Alternative Breaks is a movement of active citizenship that strives to create sustainable change and fight social injustice in all communities.

Alternative Breaks is supported by the Community Engagement & Leadership Center.

Program History

SMU Alternative Breaks was founded in 1987 on the SMU campus. It was started in the Chaplain's Office by then Chaplain Bob Cooper. The original three trips were called "work projects" and were offered in 1987-1988 in Brownsville, Texas, New Orleans, Louisiana, and Dallas, Texas. The sending of service trips on spring break was even going on earlier in the 1980's, but not within a formal program. The program began having student leaders in 1989, and had a few ups and downs throughout the 1990's. It was very strong in the mid to late 1990's and dipped somewhat around the early 2000's. The program grew again in strength in 2010, skyrocketing from three trips in 2009 to nine trips in 2010. Currently, we proudly offer 17 trip opportunities that serve both domestically and internationally.


To provide quality service experiences and awareness to all members of the Southern Methodist University community while creating active citizens through education, direct service, and reflection.


To inspire the entire Southern Methodist University community toward active citizenship by offering world changing service and life changing experiences.


Love - Hope - Equality - Diligence

“I enjoy how Alternative Breaks is a very unique opportunity to the SMU campus because it allows students to be able to personally make an impact and experience issues that they may never have faced in a new, personal, and close up light.” Janice Kim, SMU student