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Alternative Breaks Leader Job Description

Alternative Breaks Break Leader Responsiblities

Leading an Alternative Break is an extremely rewarding experience, one that offers students an opportunity to learn a great deal about social issues within a community, solidarity in action, and leadership development. Break Leaders (BLs) are required to plan a service-learning trip to take place during the academically scheduled Spring Break. This planning includes scheduling service and education events with community partners (i.e., non-profit organizations, local agencies, etc…), fundraising and budgeting, securing lodging, and recruiting participants. As a service-learning program, Alternative Breaks incorporates education into its service and reflection activities. BLs are required to plan and facilitate a DeCal that offers rigorous academic context for the issues being addressed on the service trip. This includes syllabus planning, reading selection, and guest speaker solicitation. Learning to lead a service-learning trip and incorporate elements of service, education, and reflection requires a considerable commitment of time and effort. This is a significant leadership role and it will be difficult for you to do well if you are overcommitted.

Summer Reading and Community Building

​In an effort to build a cohesive group and support you in articulating the vision, values, and foundational principles of the program, all BLs are asked to engage in approximately 10 hours of programmatic readings and community building assignments over the summer.

Centerwide Trainings, including SLSO & SLSR

Alternative Breaks is one of the many service programs housed within the UC Berkeley Public Service Center (PSC). In order for all PSC student leaders to live and practice PSC values and approaches to service, all BLs are required to attend Students Leaders in Service Orientation in August), Student Leaders in Service Retreat in January) and all Centerwide Trainings.

Alternative Break Leader Trainings (BLT)

The group meets every Tuesdays from 6-8pm throughout the year. These trainings are designed to prepare you in your role as a Break Leader. The training program provides 1) teambuilding and a space for mutual support, 2) step-by-step instruction and guidance, and 3) leadership training tailored towards the duties of a Break Leader. Topics include: service-learning theory, community engagement practices, community building, facilitation, DeCal course & syllabus design, finance, and more.

Break Leaders’ “Alternative Weekend” Fall Retreat and Spring Retreat

The Fall Retreat/”Alternative Weekend” (usually Labor Day weekend in September) offers BLs direct exposure to the essential components of an Alternative Break, an in-depth look at the planning process, and an opportunity to have fun and get to know the Alternative Breaks team. The Spring Retreat (usually 1st weekend of the spring semester) offers BLs an opportunity to kickoff the semester as a community, present mock DeCals for facilitation feedback, and work on final trip preparations.

Break Proposal

BLs work with each other to create a Break Proposal. This is a written document and a formal presentation to your fellow leaders and the director team during Fall Retreat. The proposal will lay out the purpose and goals of the trip, along with anticipated and confirmed community partners and lodging. Please note: You will not be able to begin recruiting for participants until Program Manager and/or Director Team has approved this proposal!

Fundraising and Budgeting

BLs attend group fundraisers and work with the Finance Director to establish fundraisers and support with grant reports. Leaders must also create a feasible working budget.

Publicity and Recruitment

​In order to draw the diversity and numbers needed for quality service-learning experience, BLs are instrumental in publicizing and promoting all trips. During the Fall semester, BLs must commit to the minimum standards of recruitment activities as determined by the Communications Director. These activities may include (but are not limited to) flyering, classroom/student organization announcements, e-mailing to listservs, or tabling at service events.

Alternative Break Participant DeCal

DeCals serve as a forum to academically explore the relevant issues to each trip theme and location in preparation for the service trip. This peer education format emphasizes discussion and reflection. The DeCal will also provide opportunity for post-trip reflection and potential planning for further service work. BLs will facilitate this seminar, and participants will be eligible to receive 2 units. BLs work with the Training & Sustainability Director to:

  • secure DeCal faculty sponsor over the summer and early Fall
  • create a syllabus connected to community needs and program goals
  • create lesson plans (submitted for approval two weeks before class)
  • meet with co-leaders on a weekly basis to plan for class
  • co-facilitate class dialogues based on readings, films, guest speakers, and other information.
  • ALL DeCals will take place Wednesday, 6-8pm.
  • NOTE​ that the first and last classes will be held as all-participant gathering, also known as All Community Meetings (ACM).

Plan and Lead a Week-long Service Trip

Trip planning entails contacting community based organizations for service projects and guest speakers, practicing sound risk management techniques, and the scheduling of the entire trip. BLs are required to attend and lead the actual trip.

Promote Civic Agency​

Support participants in thinking through how they can bring their experience back to the Bay or to their hometown in concrete ways.

Post-trip Reflection and Center-Wide Newsletter

Upon return, BLs will coordinate the creation of a program-wide newsletter to be copied, bound and distributed to all participants, with one copy for the Public Service Center and one to all community partners. The Newsletter is a great way to save the memories and leave a lasting impression of your trip for future participants and leaders.

Break Summary and Contacts

A Break binder is to be maintained throughout the preparation and duration of your planning experience, which includes all essential information needed to execute a Break of a similar nature. Upon return, the information must be condensed to no more than five pages. You are preparing a comprehensive guidebook for future BLs who may coordinate a similar break, which should include your itinerary, organization contact list with brief evaluation about the organizations, syllabus and reading list, trip budget, and an evaluation summary from participants and leaders. All of your documentation should also be saved on the Public Service Center server so it can be easily accessed in the future.

Participant Celebration/Final ACM

In April (after the trips), BLs and all participants will attend a final All Community Meeting (ACM). The purpose of this final ACM is to offer participants and BLs a chance to exchange experiences and celebrate the success of the program.


All BLs will serve on a committee that will be focused on different parts of the program. Some of these committees may focus on sustainability, media, finance, days of service in the bay, and all community meetings. In these spaces, you will be guided by a director and will collaborate with other BLs to plan events and think creatively about how to improve and strengthen Alternative Breaks.

Additional Questions?

Please contact Alternatives Breaks at or Cassy Huang, Program Manager at