Service Trips & Alternative Break

New York University and the School of Engineering have a number of ways to travel while doing service. Check out the School of Engineering's Washington, D.C. Service Trip and NYU's Alternative Breaks Program.


The Poly Project
The Poly Project is an initiative through the Office of Student Activities with the purpose of providing community service opportunities for the School of Engineering student body. This spring semester, The Poly Project is offering its first ever overnight service trip to Washington, D.C. to volunteer with Youth Service Opportunities Project to address homelessness and hunger. The Washington, D.C. service trip provides a unique learning opportunity for School of Engineering students, as it allows them to be immersed in a pressing social issue and community. This service trip requires commitment, therefore students are required to attend all pre-trip meetings as well as participate in fundraising events. In addition, all students are expected to participate in the duration of the trip and adhere to an alcohol/drug free policy in order to maintain the service spirit of the trip.

Youth Service Opportunities Project
YSOP is committed to helping young people become part of the solution to societal problems by showing them how even their smallest actions can make a difference in the lives of others.  They welcome individuals, schools, colleges, faith-based groups, service organizations, businesses and other groups exploring ways they can help others in a variety of contexts. 

YSOP prepares future service leaders through a unique method, YSOP Workcamps. By combining meaningful volunteer work with an orientation and reflection, YSOP volunteers provide vital services to people in need and at the same time participants are able to reflect on their experiences and broaden their perspectives.
Participants learn what it is like to be homeless. More importantly, they have the opportunity to meet with homeless people face to face and realize that they are not so different from themselves.

The Washington, D.C. Service Trip
Volunteers will prepare and serve meals at soup kitchens; they will provide recreational activities and companionship to young, formerly homeless children; they will distribute food and supplies at food pantries; they will socialize and bring snacks to people in drop-in centers.  Occasionally they will join in special projects we have been asked to staff, such as painting a new shelter with residents or distributing clothing at a clothing bank.

Before volunteering, YSOP holds an orientation that prepares participants for the day of service, paying careful attention to issues of safety and expectations. After each day of service, everyone returns to YSOP to share their impressions of the day.  Each team describes its work and the challenges that they faced.  Team members answer questions from the group and make comments.  Participants are encouraged to think of ways they can connect their experience to their daily lives.

When: March 27 – 28 , 2015
Where: Washington D.C. (three blocks from the White House)
Who: There are 20 spots for undergraduate and graduate students to participate in the service trip.

Applications due December 8th.  Interviews will take place December 9th – 19th.

Please read the expectations and requirements prior to applying.

The following responsibilities and expectations are in place for participants in the Washington DC Service Trip. By submitting this application you agree to abide by them, and failure to do so may remove you from the program:

  • Commit March 27th – 28th to the Washington DC Service Trip as a representative of The Poly Project and the NYU School of Engineering.
  • Attend ALL group meetings, four during the spring semester, and participate in ALL group fundraisers. Dates to be determined.
  • Attend all Washington DC Service Trip-wide events.
  • Uphold the NO Alcohol and NO Drug Policy for all activities.
  • Submit any required payments (including a $50 refundable deposit once service completed) on time and in full.
  • Be cooperative, supportive, and respectful of those associated with your group and Washington DC Service Trip.
  • Maintain good standing with the University as a fully matriculated student, and hold a minimum GPA of at least 2.5.
  • Abide by all guidelines, procedures, and policies as a representative of NYU at all times during the trip.

Fundraising Agreement

  1. Students will raise funds as a group and not individually, in the amount of $2000.
  2. If the group is unable to fundraise the full amount, the total remaining cost will be divided by each participant.
  3. Failure to pay outstanding charges will lead to disciplinary action from the University.
  4. Each participant must pay the deposit amount of $50 for the trip to confirm their spot. Withdrawing from the trip results in a forfeit of deposit, unless another participant in the waitlist can take the spot.
  5. The deposit will be returned after the trip and if there are no outstanding payments.

Apply Here

Alternative Breaks Program

The Alternative Breaks Program provides students with the opportunity to learn about political and social community dynamics while becoming a catalyst for collaborative social change. Through learning and practice, students will explore the theory of integrating service, education, and reflection to create meaningful change in their communities.

Last year over 280 NYU students traveled across the world to spend their winter break, spring break and weekends working with various host communities on such issues as literacy, poverty, homelessness, racism, immigration, disaster relief, and the environment.

Our vision is a society of effective citizens: people who value the community as a priority when making life decisions. As part of the Alternative Break experience, participants will become more educated and experienced in all sides of a social issue. Upon return, they will be empowered to make more informed decisions and take meaningful action that supports a greater good. They will become contributing members of society and will weigh in on issues that impact their community.