The Alternative Service Break (ASB) program gives students a chance to challenge themselves and inequalities while developing as a leader. Students come together to help communities across the United States and internationally through service grounded in social justice issues such as: rural and urban poverty, white flight, racism, domestic violence, access to housing and health care, homelessness, food insecurity, sustainability, education reform, and disaster recovery. By engaging students in hands-on direct service, ASBs allow individuals to reflect on the impact they can have on communities. The ASB program places a heavy emphasis on critical thinking and reflection, turning a passion for volunteering and "doing" into a lifelong commitment to civic engagement.
The ASB program began in 2001 with a Spring ASB trip to Seattle. In the coming years, teams of University of Idaho students served in communities across the West. The program has seen immense growth since its response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in August of 2005. In the spring of 2006, more than 60 students traveled to Waveland, Mississippi to help that community rebuild. In the spring of 2007, the ASB program expanded dramatically and the first international trip took place in the Winter of 2007-2008 to Cai Cay, Peru.
Since then, hundreds of students, faculty, and staff have participated in Alternative Service Breaks in communities across our state, the nation, and the world. Vandals have now served in over 25 states, the District of Columbia, and 11 countries on five continents.
An important development in recent ASB programming has been the focus on serving communities within our own region and state. Beginning in the spring of 2012, the first Idaho service teams traveled to three communities across the state. This focus on serving the needs of our state respects the University of Idaho's unique role as the Idaho land grant institution.
In Winter 2013, four ASB teams served in Cai Cay, Peru - Pittsburgh, PA - Valea Screzii, Romania - and San Francisco, CA. In Spring 2014, six teams served in Grangeville-ID, Tacoma-WA, San Diego-CA, Boise-ID, Hammond-LA, and Palmdale-CA.