About BreakAway

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About Breakaway

Alternative BreakAway program conducts meaningful volunteer service with our local and national communities. 

BreakAway is a program offering students, staff, and faculty the opportunity to take a meaningful break from school to volunteer and serve others.   It is a real example of the CSL and University mission to "expand the boundaries of knowledge and discovery to create positive personal and social change."  Each year, UW Tacoma students will graciously donate their spring break and other school vacations in order to embark on a journey that breaks away from the comforts of everyday living, challenges our privilege ands, perceptions, and assists nonprofits that make a difference in our communities.

The goal of UW Tacoma’s BreakAway program is to have students identify social justice issues relevant to them and seek out nonprofit partnerships working to address them. The Center for Service and Leadership assists with training for site leaders, coordination of site locations and fundraising efforts, and implements reflective practices based on the National Breakaway model for alternative break programming. All are welcome to join and participate in choosing the next BreakAway trip or sign up for a trip below (please contact the BreakAway coordinator with your ideas ;altbrk1@uw.edu)



How much will this cost?

The required application fee for BreakAway is $50. This helps to cover training expenses. This is the only fee charged directly to participants. However, trips can cost up to $500 per student. To cover this, BreakAway participants are each expected to fundraise the remaining cost of the trip with the support of the BreakAway Coordinator and their BreakAway team. This can be done through personal outreach, fundraising events, and personal donation. We encourage creativity and collaboration to successfully raise this amount.  Any funds raised that are not used will be available for future BreakAway funding. If you need assistance with the required deposit, contact the BreakAway Coordinator.

Do I have to stay for the whole time? 

Short answer: Yes. One of the reasons we do BreakAway is to connect with each other. The time we spend as a group outside of the volunteer service hours is essential to having the full BreakAway experience. You may be surprised about how fun it can be! Individual circumstances may be discussed with the BreakAway coordinator.

What will be required of me as a participant?

This BreakAway trip entails spending our days and overnights at or nearby our partner organization. We will be working with community partner staff, clients, and possibly with youth. Daily schedules vary, and may include different physical labor tasks, client interactions, and reflective activities. This experience requires students eager to listen, learn and get outside their comfort zones. All students attending BreakAway are representing UW Tacoma, and are expected to follow UW safety policies and guidelines.

Can I still apply? 

Applications for BreakAway are accepted until the trip is filled. The 2018-19 trips are now posted. Please submit your application as soon as possible. If you have missed the deadline, contact the BreakAway Coordinator directly at altbrk1@uw.edu.  To have application information emailed directly to you when announced, email your contact information to altbrk1@uw.edu with the subject header “BreakAway Interest List”


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2017-2018 BreakAway in Review


Tacoma Rescue Mission- Winter Breakaway

Wow!  We did a lot of work: 1500+ Meals Served, 170 Youth got holiday gifts from “Shopping Day”, Piles of clothes were sorted at the Donation Center and countless meaningful connections were made.

But... BreakAway isn’t just about the service! The volunteer team played a LOT of games of Uno, spent hours preparing for the trip, and engaged in meaningful reflection and exploration of service. BreakAway is a chance to not only participate in your community for a week, but to engage with one another and connect with both your peers and the organization on a deeper level.

Breakaway Coordinators Notes:

“This Tacoma Rescue Mission trip was amazing. Our third BreakAway trip in community partnership with TRM, I feel I learned a lot and came away from this with a new perspective. More than that, I think every student who went on this trip brought something special to the team, and learned something unique from the experience. I made some connections here that transformed my ideas about the world, and will last long past the week of this trip. To anyone thinking about BreakAway, it can seem intimidating, but I think there’s something special about leaning into that. Embrace the challenge and you will be surprised about what you can take away from this experience.”

Participant Notes:
“My breakaway trip was challenging but also very fulfilling. To get the most from this experience I would say go in with an open mind. “


“You'll be surprised about how many lessons you are going to learn as a person during this trip. Even if you are doing this because you have to and due to personal choice, it is fantastic, and a worthwhile experience.”


“Believe it or not but they (the clients) are going to give you a lot and its not in a materialistic way, it is with a loving open way.”


Friends of Buford Park Spring BreakAway

I don’t think we ever got this dirty before!---  ¾ of a mile of barbed wire fence removed;  One irrigation trench dug in the nursery; 175 trees planted at a restoration site; 2 hikes up Mt. Pisgah; Sun, hail, rain, and snow within the same week; Countless plants de-mossed; And more importantly, many connections made and lessons learned.

BreakAway is about so much more than service. Every night, this team sat around the fire, cooked meals together, and had incredible conversations. This BreakAway build our connections with one another, with the land in the region, and with the organization. We were blessed to work alongside volunteers who have been with the Friends of Buford Park and Mt. Pisgah since its inception in 1989.

Breakaway Coordinators Notes:

“On this trip the students were incredible in how they collaborated and pushed one another. I learned so much from each student on this trip, and felt we found role models in many of the people working at the organization. Friends of Buford Park and Mt Pisgah welcomed us into their community, giving us the opportunity to participate in the restoration of the area, and to be part of the close connections and thoughtful community that has been fostered there. I am incredibly grateful for all the students on this trip, and for the organization – especially their volunteer coordinator.

If there is anything I have learned from this BreakAway it is that we have so much to learn from one another. Taking a step back, sitting down, and listening is the first step to creating space for us to share our knowledge and joy. For those of you considering BreakAway, this is something incredibly special. Regardless of if you participate in this program, I encourage you to seek out challenging conversations and to practice listening to learn – there is so much out there that we can’t learn in the classroom. We need each other!”

Participant Notes:
“Giving back through volunteer work as a team is about giving to one another. I learned a lot on this trip from my teammates.”


“You'll be surprised about how many lessons you are going to learn as a person during this trip. Even if you are doing this because you have to and due to personal choice, it is fantastic, and a worthwhile experience.”


“I feel like I have become connected with my environment because my understanding has expanded”



Today gave me an insight to think about the world that I would've never thought of.- TRM Anonymous Reflection


Now that it’s almost over I feel that I’ve really grown as a person. I’ve learned more about myself on this trip and the importance of having a sense of community, relationships, appreciations, and teamwork. - TRM Anonymous Reflection


I think I really appreciated every moment of today. I got to connect with my peers annd I was able to see/acknowledge a fear that I still need to confront- TRM Anonymous Reflection


I assumed christian based discrimination...[But] they were open… No power trip with mike and same with his clients: mutual relationships.- TRM Anonymous Reflection


My opinions on the issue changed entirely . Partly because I didn't have such strong ideas on homelessness in general. And partly because I actually feel more educated after spending a week here.


My understanding has become more compassionate. I know now what this place is and stands for. And it's not just a place to sleep and eat.- TRM Anonymous Reflection


During reflection we discussed how our place here is volunteering only for a week. It's temporary and today has meant A LOT for me. I can't …I won't be doing the same thing and ignoring or side-stepping the people I see on the street after today and after this program. -TRM Anonymous Reflection


The past days of service felt really important to me personally. With the amount of stories shared it made me question certain things about my beliefs and values. They changed my way of seeing. -TRM Anonymous Reflection

Contact the BreakAway Coordinator:

Jessy Wolff



Center for Service and Leadership MAT 107

Contact the Center for Service and Leadership:

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