When Angel Garcia became assistant director of the Center for Leadership & Service at Florida International University in 2006, he was faced with an onslaught of requests from students for alternative spring breaks—those weeklong trips where students tutor in failing schools or clean up post-hurricane zones rather than do shots of tequila on sunny beaches. “We had to name the program Alternative Breaks so we could run programs all year long,” says Garcia.

Garcia has since expanded the...

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