Alternative Break Leadership Experience(ABLE) Student Application


What is an Alternative Break Leadership Experience?
Alternative Break Leadership Experiences are one of the core programs of the Office of Service Leadership that allow college students to engage in immersive service experiences outside of the campus community and learn more about social issues affecting today’s society. Each experience offers students an opportunity to build new relationships with other students, staff, and faculty in and out of the classroom, travel outside of the campus community, and have a life-changing experience through service. In addition to traveling and serving, students will have a chance to learn more about social issues in their community. In the past, trips have focused on urban poverty, homelessness, food insecurity, disaster relief, youth education, and international development.

Our Trip Offerings for the 2016 - 2017 School Year:

Fall Experiences

Fall Urban Immersion: November 11 - 13
Total Cost: $55/team member
For the sixth year, this Fall Alternative Break will focus on those experiencing homelessness in our own community. We’ll partner with JOIN, an organization working to alleviate poverty and homelessness in Portland. Through hands-on service, in-depth reflection, and authentic relationship-building, we will learn how we can take action to assist those in need of love and compassion, and how we can address these issues in our neighborhoods. This will be a weekend, overnight experience in Portland. *Note: You can apply for this fall experience AND a spring/summer experience.

Spring Experiences

San Francisco, California: March 26 - April 1
Total Cost: $700/team member
We will work with organizations in the Tenderloin District, an inner-city area of one square mile in San Francisco with 37,000 residents, which is 300 times more crowded than the rest of the city. We’ll prepare, serve, and deliver food to home-bound individuals; work with low-income children in an after-school program; perform outreach on the streets to those experiencing homelessness; and, most importantly, build relationships with everyone we meet. While we travel to San Francisco for this week-long trip, we will learn how we can affect change in our own communities upon our return. This experience will focus on homelessness and urban poverty, with a specific focus on children.

Seattle, Washington: March 26 - April 1
Total Cost: $375/team member
Concordia students who are a part of the Office of Multicultural Services Peer Mentoring program will travel to Portland’s sister city of Seattle to partner with local organizations working to address homelessness and urban poverty. We will work on a variety of projects including: preparing and serving meals to the homeless population of Downtown Seattle, tutoring in after-school programs, and assisting other non-profits with projects. This experience will give us a chance to learn more about these issues in the context of the greater Pacific Northwest. *Note: Mentors/mentees in the Office of Multicultural Services Peer Mentoring Program will receive priority during selection for this team.
Learn more about last year's experience to Seattle (open in a new window):

Summer Experiences

Atlanta, Georgia: April 30 - May 6
Total Cost: $850/team member
We will partner with Lutheran Services of Georgia to assist refugee families and individuals who are resettling in the Atlanta metropolitan area. Currently, Atlanta is one of the most prevalent places for refugees seeking to resettle in the United States. We will assist with language classes, help families settle into their new homes, assist with senior center programming, and help in an after-school program for children of refugees. This experience will focus on refugee resettlement and the social justice issues that surround this process, and we’ll have a chance to learn about how Portland is taking action to serve our own refugee neighbors.

Port-a- Prince Haiti: Early May (Likely May 2-10)
Total Cost: $2,200/team member
During May 2017, a team of Concordia students and staff/faculty will travel to Meyotte, Haiti (just outside of Port Au Prince), to work with Forward Edge International, a Vancouver, WA based organization. Forward Edge International partners with a local pastor to help in meeting the pressing needs of this small community that is still recovering from the earthquake more than 5 years later. The team will have the opportunity to help with rebuilding homes, providing food to local children, and through relational ministry. This trip will focus on international development and poverty as it relates to communities affected by natural disasters. We will also discover how we can connect to and aid those who experience poverty around the world.
**Note**Historically, this trip has been comprised of mostly Junior and Senior students for space reasons and to allow all students the opportunity to have an international experience. If you are a freshman or sophomore, this does not discourage you from selecting this as a preference, however, please also indicate second or third choice.**
Learn more about last year's experience in Haiti (open in a new window):

How CU Alternative Break Leadership Experiences Work:

• Applications are due on Friday, September 23. Interviews will be conducted between late September and mid October. Teams will be announced in late-October.

• Students may apply for both a fall and spring/summer trip as noted in the application and, if selected, may attend a fall semester and spring semester trip. Decisions for fall trips and spring/summer trips are made separately and interest in one does not determine eligibility or ineligibility for the other.

• All travel expenses, food, and lodging will be covered by the cost of the trip. For spring/summer trips, the trip cost will be assessed as a lab fee connected to the 1-credit LDR course. For the Fall Urban Experience, the trip cost will be collected through the Office of Service Leadership and will not be connected to a lab fee or tuition in any way.

• For spring and summer trips - During the fall semester, students have their first team meeting and begin fundraising.

• In the spring, students will enroll in the San Francisco, Atlanta, Seattle or Haiti LDR leadership course, which is a 1-credit online elective course required for all participants. Additionally, the team will meet together bi-weekly as an opportunity for the team to prepare for the experiences that will be had while on the trip. Students will have the opportunity to bond as a team, gain knowledge about the social issues and location that will be encountered on the trip, and prepare to serve those community needs well.

• Upon return to CU, students will continue to meet informally to reflect on the trip and to discuss how they can impact Concordia and their local communities. These meetings may be scheduled on- or off-campus and are optional to students, however, the Office of Service Leadership strongly encourages participation, when possible, to continue the process of exploring how Alternative Break Leadership Experiences can shape students’ college experiences.

Still have questions? Contact Amy Dickerson at or 503-280-8679.

Please note that the ABLE application process is competitive. Both your written application as well as your interview will be used in helping the Office of Service Leadership select outstanding teams of students for all trips.

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