Habitat for Humanity Collegiate Challenge alternative break volunteer

Collegiate Challenge

Alternative school break opportunities for students.

Go from hitting the books to hitting nails with Collegiate Challenge. For more than 25 years, Habitat has provided alternative school break volunteer opportunities to high school and college students.

Since this program began in the late '80s, more than 250,000 have committed to building safe, affordable homes across the United States through Collegiate Challenge.

This unique one-week volunteer program is offered year-round. All you need is five or more friends ages 16 or older. Then, simply select a location that you are interested in traveling to. You can choose a build close to school or somewhere across the country. After that, prepare for an incredible experience that you and your friends will never forget.

Collegiate Challenge offers an education all its own. Whether your group is on the build site or serving in the ReStore, you’ll be learning about poor living conditions and how decent, affordable housing builds strength, stability and self-reliance for families. 

No experience is needed to volunteer. Get your friends together and sign up for a Collegiate Challenge trip today.

Are you ready to accept the Challenge?

Frequently asked questions

What ages can participate in the Collegiate Challenge?

People ages 16 to 25 may participate in this program, and must have turned 16 by the first day of the project. Chaperones over the age of 25 are also welcome. If any volunteers are under the age of 18, at least one chaperone 25 years of age or older must be present for every five students. Please note that anyone under 18 cannot operate power tools or work more than six feet off the ground.

Can I come as an individual?

At this time, Collegiate Challenge is only open to groups of five or more. The group doesn’t have to be an official club or organization to participate, however. We encourage you to ask around within your school, church, civic group or friends. You never know who might be interested, and how a trip together might deepen your relationships.

What are the costs involved?

Please consider the following when making plans to participate:

  • Program fee: $30. This fee is non-refundable and non-transferable, and due within one month of registration. It covers supplemental medical insurance and program costs. This check should be made payable to Habitat for Humanity International and mailed to the Collegiate Challenge program team: Collegiate Challenge, Habitat for Humanity International, 121 Habitat St., Americus, GA 31709-3498.
  • Host-site contribution: This donation varies by location, and is used to support the local project in buying things like building materials. Please refer to the site list for details.
  • Transportation: Groups are responsible for their own transportation, and costs to and from the site, whether you are driving or flying.
  • Food: Groups are responsible for their own meals, though accommodations will include a place to prepare them. We recommend budgeting $6-10 per person per day for homemade meals, and more if you plan to eat out.

What type of housing is provided?

Host sites will provide you with a safe place for sleeping, showering and preparing meals at no additional cost. This usually includes church floors or volunteer centers, so each person should bring a sleeping bag. Additionally, please keep in mind that the shower and kitchen facilities could be separate from the sleeping facility.

What does a week look like?

Typically you’ll arrive at the host facility on Sunday afternoon, and depart the following Saturday morning. Most builds occur Monday through Friday or Tuesday through Saturday. You should expect to work from about 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. each day. Projects may include building a new house, repairs to an existing house, or another type of assignment that helps meet Habitat’s goals within that community. Some hosts may plan an evening activity for your group, such as dinner with a Habitat partner family, but generally your evenings will be free.

The participants guide contains helpful hints on fundraising, site logistics and reflections.

Team leaders can use the team leader guide and expectations guide to assist you in the process of organizing your trip and leading your team on a successful trip. An optional trip information form can also be completed and provided to parents and guardians for Collegiate Challenge participants as a resource during the trip.

If my host location has its own waiver, do I need to fill out a second Habitat general waiver?

Yes, even if your host location has a waiver, we’ll also need one for the main Habitat organization from each participant. 

For participants under the age of 18, team leaders should collect and return these forms by mail or fax at least one month before the trip start date. Participants over the age of 18 can now sign the waiver electronically.

In addition, each participant should complete an emergency contact form and give it to the team leader to keep on hand during the trip in case of an accident or emergency.

What does the trip insurance cover?

Part of your $30 program fee is applied to supplemental accidental medical insurance. This policy will pay the deductible of an individual’s own insurance, as well as any costs exceeding his or her insurance limit, up to $250,000. If a participant does not have personal health insurance, he or she will be covered up to $250,000. This insurance covers all participants who have an accident while participating in group activities, including building on-site and host-sponsored evening activities.

The team roster form is necessary for insurance validation. Team leaders should complete a separate team roster for each team you are sending at least one month prior to the trip.

What is your cancellation policy?

Once you pay the program fee, your group has committed to the trip for the number of spaces confirmed host locations then begin buying materials and making preparations. Program fees are non-refundable and non-transferable, and any host site contributions must still be paid, even if someone is no longer able to participate. A significant decrease in attendance or canceling a trip may negatively impact the hosts’ building schedule. To ensure the best experience for your group, the host team and the future Habitat homeowner, please be sure your group can attend before paying the program fee. Additionally, if your group registers, but does not pay the program fees within one month, your registration will be canceled.

Contact us

Email: colchal@habitat.org
Phone: 1-800-422-4828, ext. 2215
Fax: 229-410-7443

Mail:

Collegiate Challenge
Habitat for Humanity International
121 Habitat St.
Americus, GA 31709-3498

Social media

Use the #CollegiateChallenge hashtag to share your trip.