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Poverty Simulation

The poverty simulation experience is designed to help participants begin to understand what it might be like to live in a typical low-income family trying to survive from month to month. It is a simulation, not a game. The object is to sensitize participants to the realities faced by low-income people. The minimum group size is 40 and the maximum group size is 82.


Here’s how the poverty simulation works:


  • Participants assume the role of a low-income family member living on a limited budget and interact with volunteers playing the roles of bill collectors, school administrators, service providers, and more.
  • A simulation creates a community of people living in poverty for one “month” comprised of four 15-minute weeks. During this hour, each family unit must connect with community resources (i.e. schools, utility companies, social service workers, etc.) to meet their basic needs on a limited income.
  • The experience lasts about two hours. It includes an introduction, the actual simulation exercise, and a debriefing period in which participants and actors share their feelings and experiences and learn about ways they can get involved in reducing poverty in our community.