Alternative Spring Break

ASB participants unpacking what they've learned from community partners about educational justice for youth impacted by intimate partner violence
ASB participants reflect on their takeaways from conversations with community partners about educational justice for youth impacted by intimate partner violence.

Alternative Spring Break (ASB) is a five-day immersive learning experience focused on a variety of social issues in Baltimore. ASB groups work with community partners, government officials, and scholars to foster sustainable connections and lay the groundwork for long-term collective civic action addressing disparities resulting from structural racism and other systemic inequities. Participants find the experience engaging, inspiring, educational, and transformative and have gone on to affect change in Baltimore, the state of Maryland, and beyond.

ASB groups are led by pairs of students trained by the Center for Democracy and Civic Life to position their peers effectively as knowledgeable advocates and active, engaged co-creators of a thriving democracy and civic culture. Throughout the program, leaders and participants think critically about complex challenges and ways to address them. Each group focuses on a specific topic, but the groups also consider overlaps among the topics. Questions previous ASB groups have explored include:

  • How are food disparities created, perpetuated, and challenged in Baltimore City?
  • What is the relationship between growth in Baltimore and the quality of life for disenfranchised residents? What can be done to address community displacement?
  • How do people who have been formerly incarcerated transition back to living and working in Baltimore City? What can be done to support that transition?
  • How do healthcare disparities affect Baltimoreans’ sexual health and healthy relationships?
  • How do individuals with disabilities experience social injustices? What can be done to address this issue?
  • What are the difficulties and barriers that people experiencing homelessness face in Baltimore and what can be done to mitigate those issues?

The three topic groups for Alternative Spring Break 2024 were:

  • Educational Justice for LGBT+ Youth (co-led by Tyler Brown and Musa Jafri)
  • Immigrant Health Justice (co-led by Simone Acquaye and Kina Soberano)
  • Improving Life After Prison (co-led by Aidan Hunter and Alberta Ndille)
ASB 2023 participants engaged in conversation with the Baltimore Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement
ASB participants engage in conversation with leaders from the Baltimore Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement.


“ASB… has not only taught me but showed me that I am powerful and can do a lot more than I thought I could.”

— ASB Participant

When is Alternative Spring Break (ASB)?

ASB takes place in March during UMBC’s Spring Break. ASB 2025 will take place from Monday, March 17 – Friday, March 21, 2025. To participate, you must be available to participate in the entire program.

Where does ASB take place?

We are planning to host ASB 2025 in-person at the Holiday Inn Express in Linthicum Heights, Maryland. Participants will stay in hotel rooms. Some activities will happen on site, while others will happen in community spaces in Baltimore with partners from local and regional organizations. Round trip van transportation will be provided.

How much does it cost to participate in ASB?

UMBC covers most of the cost of each participant’s attendance. However, each participant pays a $150, non-refundable contribution toward the program’s cost. Financial assistance is available. If you are selected to participate in ASB 2025, we will send you a form that includes an opportunity to request financial aid. We do not want the $150 contribution to be a barrier to anyone’s participation.

Do I have to be an “involved” student to participate in ASB?

Absolutely not. ASB will be helpful to any student regardless of previous involvement or leadership experience. No prior experience is necessary. We are looking for a diverse group of students committed to developing their social change and civic engagement skills and applying them to create positive change in their local communites, including Baltimore.

Can I participate in ASB again if I have participated before?

Yes, we welcome previous ASB participants to participate again. However, first-time applicants will be prioritized in the application review process. You can also serve as an ASB leader multiple times, including after participating in ASB. Applications to be an ASB 2026 leader will be due in April 2025. Follow our myUMBC page to be notified when we release the application.

How do I apply to participate in ASB?

Applications to participate in ASB 2025 will open in October 2024. All applicants will receive emails in early December letting them know about the status of their applications. For additional information, please contact Ricky Blissett at

“I was somewhat nervous going in, and wasn’t sure what to expect…I feel as if I came away with an enriching experience that I will never forget.”

— ASB Participant


The ASB 2023 team at the end of the experience
The ASB 2023 cohort.