2018 Program of the Year

The recipient of the Program of the Year award is chosen based on their commitment to developing student leadership, building active citizenship on campus, and a true dedication to quality alternative breaks.

Baldwin Wallace University

2017 - 2018 Baldwin Wallace Alternative Break Leadership Team

Student Coordinators: Peyton Flasco, Student Director; Emma Anderson, Student Director

Staff Advisor: Christy Walkuski, Director of the David & Frances Brain Center for Community Engagement

Program Background:

  • 13 trips - 1 international, 1 weekend (hometown!), 1 thanksgiving, 4 winter, 5 spring, 1 summer
  • 1 - 2 leaders who plan their trip but also support the program year round, 1 advisor, 8 - 10 breakers

Baldwin Wallace Alternative Breaks has been hard at work over the last three years - almost tripling the size of their program in that time. Program leadership has worked tirelessly to create opportunities to meet the demand and interest from students while remaining committed to the principles of a quality experience. With 18 trips planned for 2018-19, BW will host breaks over fall, thanksgiving, winter, spring, and weekends throughout the year.

Led heavily by students, BW Alternative Breaks creates a culture of active citizenship not just among participants, but throughout the entire campus. Each year, student directors establish a strong vision for their leadership team while also developing bold strategies for community-building among trip leaders and participants. Trip leaders work tirelessly year round by investing in program initiatives such as recruitment, fundraising, and training while simultaneously developing logistics and curriculum for their individual trip.

"Alternative Breaks have helped make me a more conscientious person with a passion for service. I love getting the opportunity to be become better educated on social justice issues and various communities within the United States. Alternative breaks have helped me become a leader on campus and have given me skills to become a leader in the community after graduation. I've found my connection to BW through Alternative Breaks and I am grateful for applying for my first trip and the opportunities that have come after." - Ashley, Participant of Food Revolution - Fighting for Food Justice spring break trip

Program Highlights:

Prioritizes a culture of community-centered work

Baldwin Wallace Alternative Breaks grounds leaders and participants in active citizenship before, during, and after the trips. The program structure emphasizes the role of abundant communities and an individual's place within them - all while emphasizing the Active Citizen Continuum, 8 Components of a Quality Alternative Break, and the Pillars of Active Citizenship.

  • Identified partnerships that fed into local and campus community engagement opportunities - for example, the program’s partnership with DC Central Kitchen encourages students to return and become involved in BW’s Campus Kitchen program.
  • Created a leadership pipeline that supports participants interested in becoming leaders within the Alternative Break program and other initiatives on campus.
  • Shaped future directions of the program with the Civic Minded Graduate Scale survey, which assesses participant’s inclination or disposition to be involved in or gain knowledge of their community, as well as their sense of responsibility as a member within it. 98.8% of participants said their trip positively influenced their desire to stay involved in community engagement.

"I will take away from this experience my newfound inspiration to be an active citizen. I aspire to join more organizations that volunteer - not only for refugees, but also with sustainability, disability, and LGBTQ+ issues. I want to understand the root of these issues more, which is why I am taking two classes on politics and social issues next semester." - Georgia, Participant on Refugee Resettlement spring break trip

Serves as a Campus, Regional, and National Connector

The BW Alternative Breaks Program is no stranger to the beauty of strong partnerships, both on campus and in the surrounding community. They have proven themselves as a strong supporter of the Movement by expanding their own program significantly while also doing what they can to make Cleveland a better space to welcome other programs.

  • Designed multiple trips to collaborate with on-campus offices and student organizations to strengthen recruitment, outreach, and sustainability while creating a program that is more reflective of the entire campus community.
  • Acted as a regional leader by consulting with other colleges and universities about creating or expanding alternative break programs, hosting visiting institutions in campus housing, and connecting with local community partners to help them develop programs to host alternative breaks.
  • Shared lessons of active citizenship, cultural humility, and ethical volunteerism by working with service-learning classes and other local service programs on infusing justice-based education into their curriculum.

"We offer as many opportunities as possible to students who express interest - most people on our campus who participate in our weekly service programs have gone through AB. This program is something that is really special - it is connected to so many different communities on this campus, and we strive to provide every opportunity we can for students to get involved." - Peyton Flasco, Student Director

Builds curriculum and program structure rooted in social justice

As the leadership team considered how to best approach the growing interest in BW Alternative Breaks, they invested in restructuring each trip, and the program as a whole, in foundations of social justice.

  • Sought external review of program diversity to make strides in continuing to build a structure that’s reflective of the campus community. Their analysis found areas in which they exceed, while also illuminating opportunities to further develop practices to increase representation.
  • By creating “mystery trips” during recruitment, BW Alternative Breaks was able to recenter the focus of trips on topics related to social justice, rather than location.
  • Revamped participant retreats from a half-day of icebreakers and group builders, to a full-day focused on workshops around identity, power and privilege, cultural humility, ethical volunteerism, biases, and more.
  • Developed a model that ensured each trip was executing six pre-trip meetings with curriculum maps to cover each learning component. 100% of trip participants said this experience increased their knowledge about a social justice topic and/or community assets and challenges.

Deepening each of the 8 Components

  • Strong Direct Service: Student leaders are trained on the balance between hands on service, community interaction, and educational components throughout the trip. BW AB seeks out community partner feedback to ensure continued positive impact as their program grows.
  • Education, Orientation, and Training: Student leaders develop six pre-trip meetings that provide participants with a foundation of all three Learning Components. Issue-specific curriculum is infused throughout the experience, while pre-trip meetings offer a wealth of knowledge through video meetings with community partners, bringing in topic experts, speaking with community representatives, and providing local service opportunities connected to the trip focus.
  • Reflection: In both informal and formal settings, reflection is happening throughout the alternative break: whether it’s the required nightly reflection after each day of service, or informal conversations on the commute to and from their site, students understand the importance of synthesizing what is being experienced and learned. Not only are trip leaders facilitating reflection, but participants also have the opportunity to lead discussions based on their own perspective throughout the trip.
  • Reorientation: All teams participate in a program-wide orientation to discuss their trips, how they relate, and how individuals can take the information they learned into daily lives and future engagement. More than a singular event, however, BW AB makes a point to encourage students to engage as a student leader and provides them with opportunities to become engaged in other social justice initiatives on campus and in the community.
  • Diversity & Social Justice: Participants are equipped with a fuller understanding of communities before the trip through extensive education on topics such as, oppression, privilege, social identities, and the savior complex. BW AB has also shown admirable commitment to this component by commissioning a full Diversity Audit in the 2017 - 2018 academic year, with plans to use that knowledge to strengthen campus engagement, recruitment, and overall program design.
  • Full Engagement: BW AB leaders consistently review and update full engagement curriculum to ensure messages are properly discussed and conveyed during program-wide participant retreats. After understanding their ownership and role in these practices, participants sign agreements committing to practice full engagement throughout their experience with the program.

Press inquires? Send us an email at breakaway [at] alternativebreaks [dot] org.