Columbia College | Columbia Engineering

Undergraduate Student Life

About the Program

Mission Statement

The Alternative Break Program (ABP) fosters student leadership development and a life-long interest and commitment to civic engagement by supporting student-driven, civic-engagement projects on academic breaks. 

Vision & Values Statement

The ABP is a student-led, and administrator-managed, program that provides programmatic and financial support for students’ independent development and leadership of domestic or international civic-engagement projects over winter, spring, or summer breaks. The ABP uses Civic Competencies as its goals and the 5 Pathways to Service as its tools to strengthen the various communities of which the program is a part.

ABP-supported civic engagement projects challenge participants to reflect critically upon their role in addressing challenges in their various campus, local, national, and global communities, as well as which types of service will best address those challenges.  

The ABP does not organize or lead civic engagement projects. Eligible student(s) submit proposals for civic engagement project ideas, which includes information about the community in which the student(s) wish to serve, the challenge they wish to address, and the type of civic engagement they feel will best address the challenges in those communities. These proposals are reviewed and evaluated by the Student Engagement staff. Accepted proposals receive ABP-support, which includes training, advisement, and funding for travel.

The success of any alternative break civic engagement project depends on the leadership of the project’s student leaders and the dedication and hard work of the team.

Students interested in getting more information about the program should continue to visit this website for updates, or, for immediate questions, email the ABP directly.

"Challenging Service"

Our motto – "Challenging Service" – encourages people to think critically about how and why they serve or volunteer.

The ABP is founded on two primary civic-engagement principles. First, an ABP team's work is solution-based. Second, the program strongly encourages teams to use Social Entrepreneurship when designing their civic engagement projects.

Sometimes well-meaning service is, at best, unhelpful and, at worst, harmful to the very communities that need help. Why? People seeking to serve do not always take the time to learn from the community about the challenges they face and therefore do not have a firm understanding of the tools needed to address those challenges.

The ABP wants you to think critically about civic engagement. How will you align your team's interests, resources, talents, and time with the community you want to serve and the challenge you want to tackle?

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.