2019 Alternative Break Program Projects

Spring 2019 Projects 

Leaders in Flint Tomorrow (LIFT) — Flint, Michigan

Project Leaders: Colby King and Edna Egal 

Leaders in Flint Tomorrow (LIFT) is a social activism bootcamp created in partnership with the YMCA of Greater Flint, which aims to empower, educate, and energize Flint high school students through the establishment of a social justice curriculum placing their voices, thoughts, and stories at the forefront. Through their journey, we assisted them in developing a Youth Advisory Council with the Flint City Council to grow their self-advocacy and community organizing skills, as well as amplify their voices in local government. The inaugural session of the bootcamp served approximately 60 low-income, minority high school students.


Summer 2019 Projects 

AlterNATIVE Education  Menominee Reservation, WI

Project Leaders: Lael Tate and  Maggie Richardson 

AlterNATIVE Education is the first peer-education and mentorship initiative aimed at bridging the gap between Native American high school students and Native college students. For three months every summer, college students work as AlterNATIVE facilitators, traveling to reservations across the country to conduct youth empowerment workshops and college preparation courses. Our curriculum addresses Native histories, governments, arts and current events, all of which are topics seldom discussed in the typical classroom. This project seeks to empower Native students as community members, individuals, and agents of change, especially by encouraging Native students to seriously consider higher education opportunities.


CodePhil — Manilla, Phillipines

Project Leader: Sang Jun Park

CodePhil’s mission is to advance the digital literacy skills of students in developing countries. Their first step towards achieving this mission is the development of TypePhil, a free application, available both online and offline, teaching students how to properly type on a keyboard with all ten fingers. Through close collaboration with the Filipino government and schools, they will collect usage data from offline communities to support data-analytics, such as identifying underperforming schools. They plan to build towards a comprehensive software platform enabling access to relevant opportunities for students in under-resourced and disconnected regions. Future products will focus on allowing students to find, compare, and apply to colleges, scholarships, and jobs.


Counseling and Test Preparation (CTP) — Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Project Leaders: Herma Demissie and Richelle Gomez 

Counseling and Test Preparation (CTP) is an educational program founded by Columbia University students providing comprehensive SAT preparation, college counseling, and internship guidance for students in Ethiopia. This summer they will be sending 3 members back to Ethiopia to meet up with high school graduates who have been accepted to US colleges and universities this year to organize a summer session to train prospective students. The summer session offers comprehensive help with preparing for SATs, filling out the common application, crafting the personal statement, and provides additional resources and help tailored to international students.


Global Youth Mentorship Initiative Education Summer Camps — Zhejiang, China

Project Leader: Yang Li 

Global Youth Mentorship Initiative (GYMI) was founded by in 2013 at Columbia University and is a certified 501(c)3 public charity in New York. GYMI was a club founded by two students who realized their academic success, particularly in being able to come to an elite institution such as Columbia and thrive, was based in a lifelong strong educational foundation.  Wanting to pay this type of privilege forward, they targeted areas of China not as fortunate, in an attempt to widen their academic horizons and give them the advantage of exposure to a more diverse range of topics. However, over the past few years this camp has taken place, GYMI has realized teaching strictly academic subjects is less sustainable and less beneficial to students than focusing on their social emotional learning, which are still crucial skills they will need to navigate the stresses of their life.  Thus the curriculum shifted to this new social emotional goal, and the GYMI club at Columbia has been a major part of this shift realization and helping in developing this new curriculum. 


La Huella Moxeña — Trinidad, Bolivia

Project Leaders: Emily Miller and Natalia Figueredo 

La Huella Moxena focusses on spreading awareness on the importance of indigenous knowledge in the Bolivian Amazon. This summer they will be re-establishing an indigenous agricultural technique called camellones in a small community called Copacabana. This technique should benefit communities both economically and in the face of climate change.  During this process they want to emphasize the importance of both scientific and indigenous knowledge in order to combat climate change. 


Light up for Learning — Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India

Project Leaders: Alena Zhang and Kruti Sutaria  

Light Up for Learning is a project team working alongside Liter of Light Bangalore, a nonprofit organization providing solar-powered lights contained inside Pepsi bottles to homes in India not connected to the electric grid. Their project team designed and now teaches a sustainable engineering curriculum empowering students in India to build and install their own liters of light. They work primarily with young students living in the slums of Gandhinagar, Gujarat, India, empowering them to continue learning, playing, and growing even after nightfall.


Movement Exchange — Panama City, Panama

Project Leader: Kennedy Thomas

Movement Exchange is an organization on campus dedicated to domestic and international dance service. This summer, they hope to use dance education to improve the lives of underserved and at-risk Panamanian youth. They are sending six dance diplomats to Panama City, Panama where they will teach dance classes at two under-resourced and under-programmed orphanages. They will be teaching at each orphanage for a week and developing a dance curriculum with Panamanian natives to be used year-round, so children have access to sustainable dance education, which they believe is one of the best ways for children to build self-esteem and develop a sense of empathy and understanding of human experience.


Engineers without Borders (EWB): Rural Electrification — Otubet, Uganda 

Project Leader: Jessalyn Chuang 

EWB-Uganda is dedicated to sustainable development through active partnership with the community they work with in Otubet, Uganda. In Summer 2019, they will spend three weeks in Uganda expanding their rural electrification project and powering businesses with solar energy that can subsidize the electrification of schools and clinics they powered last summer. Listening to the needs of and using renewable energy to electrify key locations in the community has made education and medical services more accessible, and the upcoming project will hopefully improve the local economy by allowing stores to be open for longer hours. The addition of outdoor lights to businesses may also allow for increased safety at night.


Alternative Break Program


515 Alfred Lerner Hall
2920 Broadway
New York, NY 10027

Call: 212-854-1371

9:00 a.m.–5:00p.m.