• Catalyst Trip

    Student Application

    Catalyst trips use direct service to investigate questions of justice and community. Catalyst is designed to provide students with an opportunity to learn about social justice, reflect about our roles in the community, and contribute via service over spring break. The trips are open to all currently enrolled Hamline University students who are not on any form of probation. 

    Apply here. Applications available October 3rd until October 28th, 2016.  

    Topics and Trip Descriptions

    Share a Smile: Breaking Down Stigma Surrounding Hunger and Homelessness
    Sign up for a life-changing experience! We will explore different aspects of hunger and homelessness while also investigating intersecting topics such as mental health, racial disparities, domestic violence, and many more. The goal for our trip to Washington D.C. is to step out of our comfort zones while engaging in reflective dialogue. We will serve with organizations that work with various focuses within the homeless community. Through the National Coalition for the Homeless, we will participate in the 48 Hour Homeless Challenge, during which we will spend our time outside in D.C.

    The American Dream: Is it possible? 
    Join our group as we learn about how immigrants and refugees in the United States experience “The American Dream”. Does it really exist? By partnering with community organizations in Chicago, we'll investigate how poverty, race, domestic violence, and more affect these populations. This experience will leave students prepared to come back and engage with Minnesota’s own immigrant and refugee populations in meaningful ways and have a deeper understanding of themselves within our society!

    Beyond Mardi Gras: The effects of Katrina 11 years Later
    The effects of natural disaster and its intersections with homelessness, racial justice, politics, health, and other issues, leave lasting impacts on communities. Eleven years after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans is still engaging in disaster recovery. This journey allows participants to have the opportunity to engage with both the community and one another on a deeper level. Joining us on the trip will allow you to grow and spend spring break in a meaningful, hands-on way. We will discover that it is more than just service and New Orleans is more than just Mardi Gras.

    Hungry for Change: Exploring the Issues Within Our Food System
    Join us in our exploration of food and the effect it has on poverty, communities of color, and society at large. We’ll be taking part in urban gardening and other food-related services in Milwaukee, a city that is consistently ranked as one of the most racially segregated cities in the nation. We will investigate the importance of food, the food system, and what others are doing to fight inequalities within it.

    Then and Now: Queer & Trans Poverty, Gentrification and Assimilation
    Are you looking to build a campus community centered on social justice? Come with us to San Francisco to learn about the city's role from the gay liberation movement to today and make connections with other social justice-oriented students through service. We'll explore topics like queer and trans poverty, homelessness, assimilation, gentrification and neighborhoods while making connections to our campus climate and community. Discover more about your own identities while making memories that will change your life! Queer/trans identified students, students questioning their identities, and those striving to be allies are all encouraged to apply!

    Painting with Awareness: Understanding the Art of Community
    You can be the change! As a part of this group, you'll investigate community development, and how a city revitalizes itself after economic crisis. When we visit Detroit, we'll learn about race and gentrification in urban areas, as well as break down stereotypes about the city itself. A main focus of this experience will be how art is used for social change. Organizations that we will work with may focus on employment access, urban farming, reducing crime, closing the achievement gap and more! Learn how service can be sustainable and driven by the impacted community. It'll be an adventure you won't forget!


    Each trip will have a group of 10-13 people. The group is lead by two student leaders and a staff resource person. The staff resource person will be present and available for safety concerns throughout the trip. Washington DC, New Orleans, and San Francisco will fly to their destinations, Chicago, Detroit and Milwaukee will drive together in a van . Each day will consist of doing direct service within the community, followed by reflection. Many trips also speak with elected officials, community activists, and take part in cultural activities.

    Student Fees

    We try to make the trip very affordable for students. Hamline contributes to the funding, we fundraise together, and there is a small student fee. The student fee for Catalyst trips to DC, New Orleans, Detroit and San Francisco is $400. The Chicago and Milwaukee trip costs $200. Student fees are due by January 30th, 2017. This covers all transportation, all lodging, all meals except on the travel days(first and last days), and all educational experiences.


    Catalyst is committed to making this an accessible experience for anyone involved. If you are in need of a scholarship and/or payment plan, please contact catalystfundraising@hamline.edu for more information. Please note that we are not able to offer full scholarships at this time. Inquiries about scholarships are due at the time of applications on Thursday, October 28th.

    Trip Refunds

    Due to the high cost of arraigning each trip, if you cancel after January 1, you will be charged the cost of the plane ticket or student fee (whichever is higher). If you cancel before Jan. 1 you will not be responsible for any cost of the trip.

    Notes to Consider

    Catalyst Trips are designed to be high-impact experiences. Each day will be packed full with service and experiential learning. The trips may put people outside of their comfort zones to encourage learning and growth through new and unique experiences. Many trips will stay in hostels and use public transportation. All participants will be able to sleep in a private bed, but not a private room. Days may include up to five miles of walking. Some sites may do service that includes, but are not limited to heavy lifting, repetitive movement, standing for long periods of time, working directly with community members, working in messy or dirty situations, etc.. Each trip does different types of service and one should be ready to work on anything. Catalyst Programs will do it's best to accommodate students needs, but it may not always be possible. Please email catalyst@hamline.edu with any accommodation request as soon as they are known.


    • Assist with fundraising efforts.

    • Attend an orientation on January 30th, 2016

    • Participate in a local service project with their group before and after their trip.

    • Contribute to a group presentation about what they experienced on their trip.

    • Be available for all of spring break: March 18th-25th, 2016.


    • Who am I in the context of community?

    • How do I take personal and collective action for justice?

    • How does my privilege show up in different spaces/communities?

    • How do I challenge stereotypes and assumptions?

    • How can I open myself to urgent injustice and stay compassionate?

    • How are different social justice issues interrelated?