Poverty Simulation

How would you respond living month to month in a low-income family – trying to provide for your very basic necessities and shelter?

A Poverty Simulation is an exercise to raise awareness among community members of the challenges faced by low income individuals and families. THIS IS A SIMULATION – NOT A GAME. In the simulation, that lasts about two hours, 45-80 participants assume the roles of up to 26 different families facing poverty. The task of the “families” is to provide for the basic necessities and shelter during the course of four 15- minute “weeks.” The simulation is conducted in a large room with the “families” seated in groups in the center. Around the perimeter are tables representing community resources and services for the families i.e. a Bank, Super Center, Employer, Utility Company, Pawn Broker, Inter-Faith Agency, and more.

Volunteers are recruited to act as “service providers”
during the Poverty Simulation experience.

Comments from the Poverty Simulation held in March, 2020 with School Teachers from Cabarrus County Schools:

The most memorable part of the poverty simulation was:

reality and importance of transportation

having to prioritize life necessities

frustration of being fired for things out of our control

knowing that people struggle out here everyday to survive

how easy it is to get overwhelmed

the experience of an entire family – including children – working together to meet needs

the physical reaction in my body of stress, even though it was a simulation

having to make big choices in little time

What suggestions do you have for making this a more beneficial learning experience?

It is hard to fully capture poverty in a simulation. There are many who struggle with addiction, etc. It was as good as a simulation could be!

More explanation of limitations of agencies

Create a program similar to this for teens

As a result of participating in the poverty simulation, I will:

be more open-minded and take a moment to listen to other

consider my students’ outside life before judging/drawing conclusions

be more open minded and understanding of others regardless of their situations

be grateful; I gained more perspective on my “problems”

be more frugal with money and understanding of daily struggles

try to better understand why my students are mad, upset, or not engaged when they come to school

I will appreciate having a job and not stress so much

I will be even more friendly with people because you never know what their life is like

I will learn to budget more in my own life experiences

I will consider how family dynamics effect school days

be more compassionate and understanding about my students/families/people in general that are going through hard situations

show more grace towards others

listen for hidden meaning in students’ stories; connect families to services

have intentional awareness and sensitivity to the story of others coupled with non-judgement

find ways to volunteer and give back in my community

show more patience and understanding; they experience things that I don’t and didn’t have to growing up

It was eye opening to know people in my daily life have struggles like this and I will be more aware and understanding.

I already live this.

This is my second time doing this and it has made me a better listener and more understanding towards others.

For more information about the Poverty Simulation or Volunteering, contact Joyce or Lorie.

Joyce Berry-Biles, Poverty Simulation Coordinator

Lorie Williams, Volunteer Coordinator

704.490.4245  |