Poverty Simulations©

Poverty Simulations©

The Community Action Poverty Simulation is a profoundly moving experience that allows participants to step into the real-life situations of others.  This simulated experience helps participants rethink the challenges that millions of low-income individuals face each and every day. Most importantly, it helps people identify areas of change that can directly impact the effects of poverty on individuals, families, and communities.

Poverty is often portrayed as a stand-alone issue.  This simulation allows individuals to walk a month in the shoes of someone who is facing poverty and realize how complex and interconnected the issues of poverty really are.

How Does the Poverty Simulation Work?

In the simulation, participants assume the roles of up to 26 different families facing a variety of challenging, but realistic circumstances.

Experiences may include:

-       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 person now finds herself homeless with no place to go.

-       A young adult must care for siblings while their parent is incarcerated.

-       An elderly couple must raise their grandchildren while also facing their own health and employment issues.

The participants are tasked with providing food, shelter, and other basic necessities by accessing various community resources during the course of four 15-minute “weeks.”

Twenty volunteers play the roles of resource providers in the community.  This may include social workers, loan officers, employers, utility collectors, grocers, police officers, and teachers.  This allows individuals who have first hand knowledge of poverty to bring their perspective to the exercise.

The Poverty simulation activity lasts about three (3) hours and includes an introduce and briefing by a facilitator, the simulation exercise itself, and a debriefing in which participants and volunteers share what they have learned about living in poverty.

How Can I Host a Poverty Simulation?

Central WV Community Action can help you host a Poverty Simulation for your organization, agency, school, or community at no cost.


Some examples of groups that have used the Community Action Poverty Simulation experience include:

Customer Service Groups

Health Care Professionals


Clergy and Congregations

Social Service Providers

Elected Officials

Management Staff

College Students

Community Organizations


What we provide:

  • A trained facilitator for your simulation experience
  • All simulation materials

What you provide:

  • Approximately 3 hours of time
  • 15 – 20 community volunteers (CWVCAA can help to coordinate this)
  • At least 3,000 square feet of space
  • 40-80 participants
  • 12 tables and 175 chairs

For more information, please contact Lesley Slaughter, CWVCAA Associate Director. poverty@cwvcaa.org or 304-622-8495 x 148.


About Us

Central WV Community Action is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization serving Harrison and Lewis Counties with the vision of ending poverty in Central WV.  

Contact Us

Administration Office

106 Frederick St.

Clarksburg, WV  26301



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