An alternative break is an immersive service trip in which students engage in direct service with a community partner organization. In a Branch Out alternative break, you can join a group of students to travel locally, across the US and around the globe in small groups to work in partnership with host organizations on community-driven service and social justice projects. Each trip focuses on a particular social justice topic, and immersion in that topic begins before the trip in team meetings. You'll learn in depth about your issue and host community, and will gain needed skills well before traveling. After the trip, you'll come home to continue action in your local community, using skills and perspective that you gained through your trip.
Branch Out also has a strong focus on social justice - meaning that we're working for a society in which everyone can achieve their full potential. We work to ensure that our projects build capacity and respect the dignity of the communities with whom we partner. Our site leaders are trained in principles of social justice and gain an understanding of privilege so that our alternative breaks can bring about more justice in society.
We proudly offset the carbon emissions for all of our driving breaks.
Our Mission and Vision
Branch Out will engage students in diverse quality alternative breaks so that they become active and educated members of society. Our vision is to create a community of active and educated individuals dedicated to the pursuit of social justice.
Social Justice: working toward a society that values dignity and equality, and that allows all individuals to reach their full potential
Active Citizenship: prioritizing community in values and life choices, and working in groups to achieve shared goals; continuing advocacy, service, and philanthropy after alternative breaks end to further promote community goals and address social issues
Intentionality: ensuring alignment of mission, vision, and values in all our practices; creating high-quality experiences that develop active citizenship and meet community goals
Inclusion: creating a safe and welcoming community for all; ensuring accessibility to programs for a diversity of participants
Collective Leadership: recognizing and utilizing the unique contributions of each person at all levels of the program; creating conditions to empower all to work together toward shared goals
Fun and Lightheartedness: honoring the humanity of each person through humor and encouragement; incorporating warmth and care for community in all processes
Mutually-Beneficial Partnerships: supporting community-driven social change while students learn and are challenged in community settings; working in solidarity with community partners and members; developing active citizenship in all those involved
Sustainability: working toward long-term community partnerships and relationships; retaining and developing student leaders within the program; reducing and offsetting negative environmental impacts; practicing simplicity in budgeting, housing choices, and food, as a way of being in solidarity with community members
As a proud member of Break Away, Branch Out integrates the Eight Components of a Quality Alternative Break and the concept of the Active Citizen Continuum. Branch Out was Break Away's 2011 Program of the Year and our advisor, OCE Director Melody Porter, was the 2010 Staff Person of the Year.
Following the metaphor of the tree pictured in our logo, Branch Out is run by a team of six student coordinators who are collectively (and affectionately) referred to as the Trunk of Branch Out. They train our site leaders, develop partnerships with community hosts, and build the Movement on campus.