Advancing the Movement

National Conference Calls have historically been one of our platforms for student + staff leaders to share ideas and best practices within the Movement. This month, instead of putting out a conference call, we’re trying something new - still sharing innovative ideas from programs doing great work, but in a format that centers and honors your brilliance in a more sustainable way. 

We know there is only so much time that you can dedicate to professional development in staff meetings, advising meetings, or at your desk over lunch. So, we have created this new method of delivery for you. The same type of content that we would deliver to you in a conference call, but in a condensed format that you can come back to time and time again. We're excited to hear how it's working for you!


Nationally, we've heard from programs struggling with recruitment. In the 2018-2019 National Alternative Break Survey, we heard from a few schools that they have experienced an uptick in recruitment as of late. We were intrigued, so we reached out to Zach Carr, the Associate Director at the Center for Service Learning and Volunteerism at the University of Memphis to share the creative ways that he and his team recruit new participants. 

Part 1

Part 2

Key takeaways from the University of Memphis’ recruitment strategies

  • New Student Orientation breakout session. Have your program conduct a breakout session to introduce students and parents to alternative breaks
  • Welcome Weekend outreach. Organize a Day of Service during your institution’s Welcome Weekend
    • This is an opportunity for students who may not know about alternative breaks to engage in service run by your program’s trip leaders
  • Seek out service related courses or courses with service-learning components. Have program students/staff request to speak about the program
    • This audience is already service-minded 
    • Consider any social justice courses in addition to service-related courses
  • Seek out scholarship programs on campus. Many scholarship programs have a service requirement
  • Gather phone numbers / emails of students who are were interested and engaged during any of the above outreach. Trip leaders should reach out to the interested students to begin building a relationship with them
  • Invite the interested students to an informational session. The University of Memphis has informational sessions run 3 times per week from the end of September to mid-October

University of Memphis Recruitment, a Timeline

Alternative Break Recruitment Timeline

A note on cross-campus partnerships

68% of schools reported engaging in cross-campus partnerships in last year’s National Alternative Break Survey with organizations such as the diversity + inclusion office, campus recreation, and Greek Life. 

For example, if your program is planning a trip that focuses on LGBTQ+ rights, are you working with the LGBTQ+ Resource Center, Gender + Sexuality Studies Department, Office of Equity + Inclusion, or the Chief Diversity Officer? 

Working Side by Side quote on recruitment

Discussion Questions

  1. What departments or programs are you already partnering with for recruitment to your AB program? Who might you add to this list?
  2. Where do your student leaders (exec board, site leaders, etc.) hold influence on your campus? How can you help them connect their AB involvement with other roles they hold on campus (resident assistant, Greek Life membership, teaching assistant, lab assistant, intramural participant, etc.)?
  3. What other programs or departments are increasing in enrollment?  
  4. Does your school have an experiential learning/co-curricular transcript? How would you add or edit your program to meet the requirements for inclusion? What about course credit? 
  5. Have you recently raised your participation fees? Who is excluded (or included) by your fee structure? 
  6. Do your potential participants know how to connect the skills gained in preparation for and during AB trips to the job/internship market? 

Download these questions as a PDF

Get trip leaders into service learning or social justice courses to talk about alt breaks