Poverty Simulation

​This year, as part of our annual conference, we are hosting the Community Action Poverty Simulation, presented by Carl Albert State College. This will take place on Monday, September 9th from 1:15 to 4:00 pm. Because we feel that this is so important for people working with impoverished clients, we are offering a special rate for people who want to attend only the Poverty Simulation. For participants who wish to attend only the Poverty Simulation, the cost is $50.

I am amazed at the knowledge I gained. Very much an eye opener.

2018 Participant

How the Poverty Simulation Works

The Community Action Poverty Simulation breaks down stereotypes by allowing participants to step into the real-life situations of others. Poverty is often portrayed as a stand-alone issue – but this simulation allows individuals to walk a month in the shoes of someone who is facing poverty and realize how complex and interconnected issues of poverty really are.

The Community Action Poverty Simulation is a tool that helps participants rethink the challenges that millions of low-income individuals must face each and every day. More importantly, this tool helps people identify areas of change that can directly impact the effects of poverty on individuals, families, and communities.

It was a great way to see the way people live and things they do just to stay alive sometimes.

2018 Participant

Living a Month in Poverty…

The simulation involves participants who take on the roles of members of up to 26 families, all facing a variety of challenging, but typical, circumstances. For example:

  • A single parent with limited resources and no transportation must find a way to get to work and get their child to daycare.
  • An elderly person must find a way to pay for both utilities and medication.
  • A young adult must care for siblings while their parent is incarcerated.
  • An elderly couple must raise their grandchildren and deal with their own health and employment issues.

To start the simulation exercise, each family is given a card explaining its unique circumstances. It becomes the families’ task to provide food, shelter, and other basic necessities by accessing various community resources during the course of four 15-minute “weeks.”

In addition, about 20 volunteers – many of whom are people who have experienced poverty and are currently receiving government assistance – play the roles of resource providers in the community. This allows individuals who have first-hand knowledge of poverty to bring their perceptions to the exercise.

The Community Action Poverty Simulation is conducted in a large room. Participants are seated in family groups and community resources are located at tables around the perimeter of the room. The activity lasts about three hours. This time frame includes an introduction and briefing by the facilitator, the simulation exercise, and a guided debriefing in which participants and volunteers share their observations and insights from the activity. Individuals then have the opportunity to discuss what they’ve learned with their peers.

The Community Action Poverty Simulation is a profoundly moving experience. In a very short time, it forces you into the clients’ perspective. You experience the constant pressure they endure. As you face the world from a different viewpoint, it reveals hidden biases. It moves people to think about the harsh realities of poverty and to talk about how communities can address the problem. Most importantly, it moves people to make a difference.

This was an excellent way to gain introspection on what it means to not have the means to survive. Thank you!

Very applicable to what we deal with. Thank you!

This was truly a “real” experience in the life of a person dealing with poverty. Thank you!

Really made me think and feel uncomfortable about some of my assumptions.

Quotes from 2018 Participants