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Undergraduate Student Life

Proposal Process

PLEASE NOTE: The ABP will not be supporting Winter Break Projects this year. We will begin accepting Spring and Summer Break Proposals in the fall. Please check out our dates and dealines for that process. Please heed the following guidelines as you begin working on your proposal. Please reach out if you have any questions!   



In order to service as a Project Leader and submit preliminary and final proposals, you must currently be a CC, CE, BC, or GS undergraduate at the time of your submission.

Each team must have two Project Leaders.

Students who are studying abroad in the fall semester may apply as a co-Project Leader for spring and summer projects as long as there is one Project Leader located at Columbia’s Morningside Heights Campus.

Proposal Process

  1. The ABP Student Advisory Board reviews all preliminary proposals. After all proposals are reviewed, they are returned with comments and suggestions to each potential project leader.
  2. Those who have submitted a proposal are either invited to submit a final proposal, or rejected. Outright rejections are rare and most often occur because the idea is dramatically unrealistic, the idea is not civic-engagement and/or team based. 
  3. Once all final proposals are submitted, the ABP Student Advisory Board may request an interview to seek further information. 
  4. The ABP Student Advisory Board, in consultation with Student Engagement, will determine which projects receive support.  
  5. The ABP Student Advisory Board notifies those who have been accepted with financial support, or accepted without financial support, or rejected. 


View the ABP Final Proposal Sample.pdf.

What type of information is required in the proposals?

The preliminary and final proposals will ask you to provide the following information:

  • Whether you are applying as an independent team of students or as a team sponsored by recognized student group

  • What community you wish to serve

  • Where domestically or internationally you want to serve

  • What type of service you can provide

  • How you and your team will take what you’ve learned through your civic engagement project and how you can share those lessons with the Columbia community

  • Your travel itinerary

  • Team budget

  • Preparation plans

  • Information about your sponsor organization

  • Other information that may help the ABP Board fairly and accurately evaluate your team’s proposal

The preliminary proposal is designed to help foster ideas and to help those submitting the proposal to organize themselves as well as communicate to the ABP committee what they want to accomplish and how. The final proposal is a document that demands very specific information that shows the ABP committee that the group submitting the proposal has prepared properly and done the necessary research and planning that a quality alternative break project takes.

How will the proposals be evaluated?

I. Preliminary Proposals

Preliminary proposals are evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Feasibility and safety of the proposed civic engagement project

  • Clearly outlined goals of the civic engagement project – including what the team hopes to accomplish in the community in which it is to work, what the team hopes to learn from the experience, and how the experience will have a sustainable impact within the community

  • Identification of and tentative acknowledgement from a credible sponsor organization

  • Composition and size of team as well as how the team will be recruited

  • Team and team member expectations

  • Anticipated budget

  • Travel Logistics

  • Lodging Logistics

Once preliminary proposals are submitted they will be evaluated by the ABP and may be moved forward to the next round of the proposal process or rejected. If a proposal is rejected before the final deadline, students may seek advice from the ABP board on how to modify their preliminary proposal and resubmit. If the preliminary proposal is accepted, students are invited to submit a final proposal.

II. Final Proposals

Final proposals may be accepted with financial support, or accepted without financial support, or rejected.

  • Final proposals accepted with financial support will be awarded an ABP matching grant that is based on the team’s final proposal. Teams that accept the ABP matching-grant are considered ABP-sponsored projects and therefore are required to follow the ABP policies and procedures, attend the trainings and to work with the ABP on developing and leading the civic engagement project.

  • Final proposals accepted without financial support will be invited to participate in the ABP trainings and will be able to access the ABP for guidance and support. These civic engagement projects, however, are autonomous from the ABP.


Alternative Break Program


515 Alfred Lerner Hall
2920 Broadway
New York, NY 10027

Call: 212-854-1371

Fax: 212-854-6972

9:00 a.m.–5:00p.m.