Poverty Simulation

The Community Action Poverty Simulation is NOT a GAME!

It represents real people and their real experiences

We hope that experiencing the Poverty Simulation Will...

Increase Awareness:
Experience the lives of families living in poverty by role-playing one month

Expand Understanding:
Debrief with the group after the simulation by participating in the discussion to bring about community change

Transform Perspective:
View poverty as a structural failure of society, instead of a personal failure for individuals

Inspire Change:
Make your voice heard by working with your community to advocate for change

Who Does Povery Simulations?

 CAPS is a unique tool used by over 2,000 different organizations worldwide. Here is a sampling of organizations who use the tool: 

Nonprofit Organizations

The Poverty Simulation is a tool to help foster empathy within your organization. As a training tool, It has motivated and inspired many of our participants to take action in our state...This has been one of the best tools we have found to begin the conversation and take action. – MaryLou Beaver, Every Child Matters


As we incorporated this training into our Induction Seminars we provided to our new teachers, it became clear that it was a complete eye-opener for many of them! – Dr. Donna Smith, Beaufort County School District

Community Action

We love the poverty simulation because it offers a truly meaningful, insightful experiential learning opportunity for the participants...It's one of our most powerful tools for reframing issues of poverty. – Afron January, Community Action Partnership of Utah


How has the simulation impacted your views?

“It has shown me that no one’s situation is the same, and it’s unfair to treat people as such.” (Simulation Participant, 2019)

homeless man

“Making sure not to blame people for their circumstances and recognizing that there are a lot of things that work together to create that situation.”

“I already felt I understood poverty’s stressors, but this deepened my appreciation of how hard being in poverty can be.”

Woman and child

“It reinforces what I already know I believed
to be time. People in poverty are frequently (if not always) living in conditions of extreme stress and deserve to be treated with compassion and respect.”


What exactly happens during a Poverty Simulation?

Participants will be assigned a role to assume in a family living in poverty, ranging from a child to an older adult. All of the families are seated in the middle of the room in their ‘homes’. Community resources are stationed along the perimeter of the room with tables and a ‘representative’ (aka volunteer) of that agency. Over the next hour, participants role-play a month in poverty, with fifteen minutes signifying one week, working toward the goal of meeting their basic needs for the month. After the hour is completed, participants discuss their experience and what they learned in the debriefing.

Can an individual sign up, or am I required to be part of a group?

Both individuals and groups are encouraged to participate. Click here to join an upcoming simulation.

I’d like my entire organization to participate in the Poverty Simulation. Is that possible?

There are several Poverty Simulations already scheduled and if there is enough space, you are welcome to join one of those. If you have a group larger than 30 people, you might want to consider scheduling a new simulation. Click here to search upcoming simulations or to schedule a simulation.

And more questions here...