Program Overview

Poverty Simulation moves people to think about the harsh realities of poverty and talk about how communities can address the problem. Most importantly, it moves people to make a difference.

Missouri’s Community Action Poverty Simulation is the first step to get people and communities moving. This half day program brings together social service providers, elected officials, clergy, educators, employers, and others to experience first hand a typical month of living in poverty.

What is the Poverty Simulation?

Participants play the roles of family members struggling to meet basic needs without enough money. Then, they come together to discuss how they felt and what they learned.

The poverty simulation is a unique, interactive experience that helps people begin to un-derstand what life is like with a shortage of money and an abun-dance of stress.

They are more motivated to be a part of the solution and you can make that happen by hosting The Poverty Simulation in your community.


How The Poverty Simulation Works

The simulation involves 44 to 80 participants who take on the roles of members of 26 families, all facing a variety of changing, but typical, circumstances. Some are homeless, others jobless, and some are suddenly faced with responsibilities of raising grandchildren. In addition, about 20 volunteers– preferably people who have experienced poverty, play the roles of resource providers, such as social worker, loan officer, employer, pawnbroker, grocer, utility collector, police officer, and teacher.

This program is conducted in a large room. Participants are seated in family clusters, and community resources are located at tables around the perimeter of the room. To start the exercise, each family is given a card explaining its unique circumstances and a small amount of “money”. It is then the families’ task to provide food, shelter, and other basic needs by accessing the various resources during the course of the four 15 minute “weeks”.

The activity lasts from two and a half to three hours. It includes an introduction and briefing by facilitator, the simulation exercise, and a facilitated debriefing in which participants and volunteers share what they have learned about living in poverty.


More Information

Schedule a Poverty Simulation