Alternative Spring Break
Pace’s official Alternative Spring Break (ASB) program is a fun and challenging issue immersion opportunity for students. Each spring participants spend a week learning about and directly assisting a community with an identified community need. Participants become engaged in a particular social issue through volunteerism, activism, special guest speakers, excursions, and films. These different ways of taking action afford students a three-dimensional way of understanding the social issue at hand; for example, how it plays out historically, on the ground, in the realm of policy, and in the non-profit sector. ASB is a joint program of the Center for Community Action and Research at Dyson College, Project Pericles at Pace University, the Dyson College of Arts and Sciences Office of the Dean, and the Office of Student Affairs on both the Pleasantville and New York City campuses.
Pace University’s Alternative Spring Break program was founded in 2002. The following are some programmatic highlights.
Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans: In 2006 and 2007, Pace students traveled to New Orleans to help those suffering in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. For four nights and five days participants helped to rebuild a homeless shelter made uninhabitable by Katrina, met with families to hear about their experiences, rebuilt a home in New Orleans devastated 9th Ward, attended lectures given by Tulane University faculty, and more.
Act on Poverty in New York City: From 2009 to 2012, Pace students tackled the issue of poverty in New York City. Students spent four days and three nights volunteering for area non-profits and meeting with organizations and social enterprises dedicated to ending poverty. During this time, the students worked with Coalition for the Homeless; Greyston Bakery; Ready, Willing and Able; Homes for the Homeless; and other organizations. Each program concluded with participants writing to their government representatives to urge them to take action on an issue related to poverty.
Superstorm Sandy in Staten Island & Queens: Since 2013 Pace students have spent four days of Spring Break in either Staten Island, Far Rockaway, Queens or the Jersey Shore helping those recovering from Superstorm Sandy. In Staten Island, students worked with the nonprofit group All Hands to prepare homes for mold remediation; met with impacted families; volunteered at Project Hospitality, a homeless shelter serving those affected; and helped sort donations with the Stephen J. Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation. In the Far Rockaways, students re-floored and remediated flooded homes with Friends of Rockaway; met with a reporter from the local newspaper, The Wave; met with a local city elected official; and more. In New Jersey we partner with the Saint Bernard Project whose mission is to streamline the post-disaster recovery process. In the evenings students engage in reflection on a variety of topics that connect to disaster relief including Climate Change, Race and Class, and Policy.
For Prospective Participants
Participating in ASB is competitive; generally 15 spaces are available and the program is open to full-time Pace students free of charge. Information sessions, required for attendance, begin in late January/early February on both the New York City and Pleasantville campuses. Applications typically are due by the third week in February.