William & Mary

2015-16 Branch Out National Alternative Breaks

Winter Break Trip

Participate in this year's Branch Out National winter break trip! In addition to its spring break trips, Branch Out National is sponsoring a winter break trip this year to work with Big Cypress National Preserve in Ochopee, Florida from January 4th-9th. The trip will focus on resoration and preservation of public lands. This trip costs $375 for participants, and financial aid is available. Applications are now open: sign up here!

Spring Break Trips

The early decision lottery for spring break trips is open now through November 17th. SIGN UP NOW!

D.C. Central Kitchens (DCCK)
Social Issue: Food deserts, Nutrition, Unemployment
Location: Washington, D.C.
Hungry for Change: Creating Opportunity through Food: Fight alongside an organization that has worked to liberate hunger and advocated healthy futures for their neighbors since 1989. DC Central Kitchen (DCCK) uses potentially wasted food resources to cultivate healthy meals for the city. DCCK is not a soup kitchen. They implement a 'hands up, not out' motto where food is not wasted -- and neither is human potential. Their mission is heated by their Culinary Job Program, through which unemployed men and women change their lives through training in culinary careers. DCCK has not stopped in DC, but branched into a social enterprise by sponsoring a second helping of active citizenship from college students through Campus Kitchens programs. On our trip we will learn about combating unemployment, food deserts and malnutrition.

Fan Free Clinic
Social issue: HIV/AIDS awareness and education
Location: Richmond, VA
Promoting Health Education in Stigmatized Urban Communities: Did you know that 1 in 5 individuals with HIV infection in the U.S. is unaware of their condition? Eastern Virginia has the highest rate of people living with HIV/AIDS in the state, with over 2,500 people affected in Richmond alone. Working with the Health Outreach Department at the Fan Free Clinic in Richmond, students will engage with health issues like HIV/AIDs, drug abuse and rehabilitation, and sexual health. It is essential that individuals coming on this trip are open-minded and understanding, as well as passionate about helping people in socially vulnerable circumstances. This trip will involve working and interacting with individuals in the LGBTQ community, the homeless, recent and current jail inmates, drug rehabilitation clients, and persons living with HIV/AIDS. Students will explore the challenges imposed on health outreach organizations seeking to provide care and information to at-risk individuals. The goal is to begin to understand the larger societal systems that hinder over-looked and stigmatized populations from seeking help and accessing accurate information on HIV/AIDS.

Incarceration & Social Justice
Social issue: Incarceration and re-entry
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Unchaining Opportunity: the Intersection of Incarceration and Social Justice: Did you know that the U.S. has one of the highest documented rates of incarceration in the world? The issues surrounding our prison system intersect with a host of other social justice issues: unemployment, education, racial disparities, LGBTQ* issues, housing, and human rights. We will be working with several organizations, including Why Not Prosper,which provides resources for women who were formerly incarcerated, and Semilla Arts Initiative, which uses public art to create awareness for social justice issues. During our time in Philadelphia, we will take a multi-faceted approach for learning about problems within the U.S. criminal corrections system and the social justice issues that contribute to crime.

KIPP Public Charter School, DC
Social Issue: Urban education
Location: Washington, D.C.
Exploring Educational Inequalities in Our Nation's Capital: Join us this Spring Break as we explore the shifting educational landscape of Washington, DC through our partnership with KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) Public Charter School. By volunteering in schools, speaking to teachers, administrators and community members while also investigating specific local issues, we will delve into the wider scope of the U.S. Educational System. Through this wealth of perspective, we will develop a greater grasp on the multiplicity of challenges faced by students, parents, and teachers. We will visit a traditional public school and seek to learn from the similarities, differences, and efforts of each school. Our trip will also include visits to educational non-profits that aim to narrow the achievement gap on a local and national level. During our trip we will stay in a nearby hostel.

KIPP Public Charter School, Gaston
Social Issue: Rural Education
Location: Gaston, NC
Education Inequality Beyond City Limits: Understanding the Opportunity Gap in Rural America: On this trip, our team will focus on the problems that the American education system faces, specifically in rural areas like Gaston, North Carolina. We will be working with the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) charter school in order to better understand the issues and the ways that charter schools, like KIPP, provide their students with opportunities for success. While we are at KIPP we will be helping out with daily operations at the school in order to assist the teachers and students as well as to gain a more complete understanding of the work that is done everyday at schools around the country. By spending time at the school and in the community, we will have the opportunity to see firsthand the problems that rural charter schools face, but also the ways that students at KIPP succeed every day. With this new perspective, our group will better understand the problems in the education system in America and will bring that new perspective back to the William & Mary community.

Lynchburg Grows

Social Issue: Food deserts, food sustainability
Location: Lynchburg, VA
Lynchburg Grows with Branch Out: Love food? Love people? Interested in Sustainability? Join Branch Out’s Alternative Spring Break trip to Lynchburg Grows in Lynchburg, VA where you will get to engage in conversations about food deserts and sustainability! Lynchburg Grows is a non-profit organization that serves residents in the Lynchburg food desert, or areas where residents do not have access to grocery stores or food of sustenance. Branch Out volunteers will get firsthand experience in the daily activities of urban farm life including, but not limited to, seeding, harvesting, preparing the soil for the next crop, and maintenance of growing crops.

New Alternatives
Social issue: Homelessness experienced by LGBT youths
Location: New York, NY
From Stonewall to Sidewalks: Working With Homeless LGBT Youth in NYC: This trip will help the team better understand some of the challenges still facing the LGBT community in a post-Obergefell America. According to the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBT. These individuals tend to be younger than other homeless youth, and their identity is often the direct cause of their homelessness. On this trip, we will be partnering with New Alternatives NYC in an attempt to further our understanding of the underlying challenges and issues facing the LGBT community and what is being done to help youths overcome these challenges through resources available at New Alternatives. We will assist the staff at the center in a variety of different ways, including preparing meals, leading activities and trips, and participating in fundraising activities. It is our goal for participants to garner a comprehensive outlook on the challenges facing the LGBT community, as well as those issues that specifically affect LGBT youth. We will stay in housing provided by the church where New Alternatives is housed.

Northern Neck Free Health Clinic
Social issue: Access to healthcare
Location: Kilmarnock, VA
Critical Clinical: Accessing Healthcare in Rural Virginia: Northern Neck Free Health Clinic is located in Kilmarnock, Virginia where we will spend a week volunteering. This clinic provides direct patient care to the local rural communities that lack quality health services by providing comprehensive, affordable healthcare to low-income, uninsured residents. Our team will assist the clinic with its long- and short-term goals by assisting medical professionals, collecting patient histories, and maintaining pharmacy as well as dentistry branch operations. The objective of this alternative trip is to gain a comprehensive understanding of the free health clinic model, develop relationships with other team members, and engage with the Kilmarnock community.

Senior Connections
Social Issue: Marginalization of the elderly
Location: Richmond, VA
Engaging the aging and bridging the generation gap: This spring, we will travel to Richmond, VA to spend the week staying in a local church and work with our community partners, such as the Friendship Café. While working with our partners you will learn how to interact with the elderly to enable yourself to better understand the mental and physical effects of medical issues associated with aging. You will be able to observe how physical and cognitive rehabilitation from Alzheimer’s, strokes, and other age-related illnesses are addressed in the elderly community. In addition, you will get an inside look at how social determinants, such as social class, can affect treatments. Through our service, we hope to foster intergenerational respect and community. The ultimate goal of this trip is to learn about the physical, mental, and emotional effects of isolation on the wellness of the senior citizens, which is a growing population.

Safe House of Hope
Social Issue: Human trafficking
Location: Baltimore, MD
Helping Victims of Trafficking Take Back Their Future: This trip will head to Baltimore to work with Safe House of Hope, an organization that provides “education, training, and support to help victims of human trafficking become an active part of a healthy community.” Over 1.68 million American children run away each year, and within 48 hours of leaving home, 1/3 of those runaways will engage in survival sex. Many of these victims are unable to finish high school and pursue further education. SHO Hope’s model of service is designed to help these victims of trafficking wherever they may be in their life journey and provide them with whatever support they want. Major operations include a drop-in center, emergency housing, and outreach on the streets. Part of the work we may be doing includes facilitating smooth running of programs, organizing donations, and assisting with the operations at the drop-in center. We also may have the opportunity to shadow the on-the-street outreach. Utlimately, Sho Hope’s goal, and ours as well, is to help these individuals realize their intrinsic value, and to build and model healthy relationships.