Alternative Fall Breaks

Rural Poverty
Rural Appalachian Improvement League (RAIL)

From October 12-15, alternative breakers will collaborate with the Rural Appalachian Improvement League (RAIL) in Mullens, WV to learn about and to work to alleviate the root causes of poverty in southern West Virginia. RAIL was founded by community volunteers to help build a new and sustainable social structure and economic base in the southern West Virginia coalfields. RAIL is a grassroots organization that believes the local people - especially the youth and young adults - must be directly involved in solving the social and economic problems that exist in the community. RAIL achieves its mission by improving education, fostering economic development, increasing community engagement, developing the community, developing environmental initiatives, and promoting the value of diversity. 

RAIL has 4 major areas that focus on community and economic development:
  1. Mullens Opportunity Center (MOC), managed by RAIL, is a Community Center located on a three acre complex in the City of Mullens.
  2. AmeriCorps program to train, educate, and mentor 10 young adults to learn and practice ways to earn a livelihood and help rebuild their community.
  3. Specialty Farming to best utilize limited mountain space as well as abandoned mine lands and mountain top removal sites.
  4. Tourism and innovative business program to build industry based on the culture, heritage and natural attributes of the region.

Participants will help specifically with RAIL’s current project of building a public roadside park with river access for the local community to use. 

Housing for this alternative break will be provided on-site by RAIL. Housing at RAIL includes showers, beds/cots/sofas (participants must provide sleeping bags), kitchen appliances and cooking supplies, as well as a safe place for participants to store their belongings. 

Food Access, Regenerative Agriculture, and Environmental Stewardship
Clagett Farm at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation

From October 12-15, alternative breakers will collaborate with Clagett Farm at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in Upper Marlboro, MD to learn about food access, regenerative agriculture, and environmental stewardship. Clagett Farm’s ultimate goal is to use farming methods that are truly sustainable, both economically and environmentally. The farm raises crops, cattle, and sheep and supports a Community Supported Agriculture program and tree farm. Alternative breakers will perform service with Clagett’s native tree and shrub nursery, the Phillip Merrill Environmental Center, and Clagett’s vegetable operation. 

Housing details are TBD.

Understanding Power, Privilege and Oppression
Steinbruck Center at Luther Place 

Alternative breakers will partner with the Steinbruck Center in Washington, D.C. October 12 - 15 to participate in multiple workshops and discussions related to urban poverty and homelessness, structural inequality, and institutionalized racism, and will also have the opportunity to engage in direct service opportunities with various partner organizations that serve individuals experiencing poverty and homelessness. Potential service opportunities include serving meals at shelters or soup kitchens, packing and preparing meals, or assisting with shelter maintenance.

The Steinbruck Center is focused on facilitating high quality learning experiences for students through the model of a mutually beneficial partnership, connecting students with organizations in need of volunteers to support individuals in need. Students will complete the trip with an understanding of structural issues that perpetuate inequality and tools to build healthier and more socially just communities.

Group housing accommodations will be provided by the Steinbruck Center at Luther Place in hostel-type dorm rooms with non-gendered bathrooms and showers and access to a dining room and full kitchen. Linens are not provided; participants will need to bring their own towels, sheets, and other bedding.

Mass Incarceration, Recidivism, and Reentry
OAR of Richmond

Alternative breakers will partner with OAR of Richmond, Virginia October 12 - 15 to provide resources and opportunities to individuals who have experienced incarceration. OAR has been the leading reentry service provider in the Richmond area since 1971 and serves approximately 4,000 individuals each year. OAR serves individuals through case management and connecting people with the resources they need to be successful while transitioning from incarceration to community. Through focusing on reentry services, OAR uses evidence-based practices to prevent recidivism and empower those impacted by incarceration to find individual success.

Participants will learn about evidence-based and person-centered approaches to providing services to reentry into the community post-incarceration as a means to prevent and address mass incarceration and recidivism in the criminal justice system. Through the partnership with OAR, alternative breakers will learn to build communities that advocate for the fully-recognized humanity of those affected by the criminal justice system. Students will have the opportunity to engage directly with community members to assist individuals in practicing positive social interactions, interpersonal skills, and professional skills, while having the opportunity to connect with and hear the stories of those affected by the criminal justice system.

Group housing accommodations will be provided by First Baptist Church of Richmond. The group will have access to showers and a shared kitchen. Participants will need to bring their own towels and bedding and/or sleeping bags for sleeping on the floor or couches.