Poverty Simulations

With in-person Poverty Simulations suspended in compliance with health directives related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Crisis Assistance Ministry is pleased to announce an alternative.

Groups of ten or more who are interested in learning about and connecting with the complex issues surrounding poverty on a deeper, more personal level, can now register for the Virtual Poverty Awareness Experience.

Facilitated by a member of the Crisis Assistance Ministry team, this one-hour experience consists of three segments:

  • An overview of Crisis Assistance Ministry and its role in the community
  • An online simulation experience designed to invoke deeper understanding and empathy surrounding the realities of living with limited financial resources
  • A guided group discussion focused on sharing perspectives, understanding challenges, and discussing the collective action needed to create a better society for everyone

The experience is designed for adult learners. It is conducted via Zoom and can be customized for corporate groups, houses of worship, higher education, and more.

Crisis Assistance Ministry does not charge for the facilitation of this activity, but donations are greatly appreciated as they help fund the agency’s mission.

To discuss how this experience could benefit your group, please contact us at [email protected].

What is a Poverty Simulation?

A Poverty Simulation is a facilitated two-hour immersive experience designed to create awareness among participants of life at the bottom rung of the economic ladder. Participants are assigned to “families” who do their best to survive week-to-week over a simulated one-month period. The simulation presents participants with real-life scenarios and challenges faced by people living in poverty.  The exercise is immediately followed by a group debrief, during which participants reflect on the experience, discuss insights, and consider next steps.

Participants often tell us they will never forget the overwhelming stress and hopelessness they felt as they walked in the shoes of someone facing poverty.

Since 2008, Crisis Assistance Ministry has been the local lead facilitator of the Community Action Poverty Simulation (CAPS), which is owned by the Missouri Community Action Network.  In the last four years alone, nearly 7,000 local citizens, including community leaders, business professionals, and members of faith communities, have experienced a simulation sponsored by our agency.  They often leave shaken by the role play, telling us they will never forget the overwhelming stress and hopelessness they felt as they walked in the shoes of someone facing poverty.

The ultimate goal of the Poverty Simulation is to transform these insights into action.  Executives have changed policies at their place of work and teachers have pledged to change how they treat children at school as a result of their participation.

If you are interested in hosting a poverty simulation, please contact [email protected].

If you are interested in learning more about the Missouri Community Action Network or purchasing a CAPS kit license, please visit communityaction.org or povertysimulation.net.

Participant Testimonials

Poverty Simulation F.A.Q.

Beyond the Poverty Rate: A More Nuanced Look at Financial Security in Mecklenburg County

You’ve probably heard the saying that numbers don’t lie. But when it comes to understanding poverty, the numbers certainly can be deceiving. Mecklenburg County’s Scorecard, based on data from 2019, paints an optimistic picture overall. On most measures, our community appears to be thriving. But when those numbers are broken down by race, a very different picture emerges.

Read More

Netflix Drama Shines Light on Poverty

“Maid” is a new drama on Netflix that portrays a domestic abuse survivor, Alex, and her two-year-old daughters attempt to flee an abusive relationship. The themes represented are themes we often see in our daily work with neighbors who turn to Crisis Assistance Ministry for help.

Read More

Poverty Awareness Helps Medical Providers See Beyond the Examining Room

This year, over 200 Atrium Health staff and medical students have participated in virtual poverty awareness experiences with Crisis Assistance Ministry. The sessions are part of an ongoing partnership between Atrium and Crisis Assistance Ministry that aims to sensitize healthcare providers to the challenges their patients may face outside the walls of the examining room.

Read More

National Voter Registration Day

Crisis Assistance Ministry teamed up with the League of Women Voters to observe National Voter Registration Day. Held on the fourth Tuesday of September each year, the day is designed to celebrate democracy and highlight the importance of voting. 

Read More

Transportation Equity: The Often-Forgotten Aspect of Poverty

When you think about poverty, transportation is probably not the first issue that comes to mind. But having a reliable and affordable means of getting around town is fundamental to accessing vital resources.

Read More

Eviction: Know Your Rights

Being served with a summons to eviction court is panic inducing. If you or someone you know receives court papers like the one below, the best advice is to stay calm, learn the process, and know your rights.

Read More

Food for Thought: How Recalculating the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Benefits Us All

Americans who struggle to afford healthy food for their families will soon receive a much-needed boost. In a historic move, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has recalculated how Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits are determined. As a result, the average SNAP recipient will see an increase of $36.24 per person per month, beginning on October 1, 2021. 

Read More

August Is Voter History Month

It’s August, the month traditionally associated with the end of summer and back-to-school activities. But did you know that August is also noteworthy for its pivotal role in the history of voting rights in the United States?

Read More

2040 Comprehensive Plan Builds Equity into Charlotte’s Growth

The 2040 Comprehensive Plan creates an opportunity to build equity into Charlotte’s future growth. It begins with a recognition of the history of redlining and urban renewal that exacerbated racial disparities and creates a roadmap to ensure that all residents have access to the benefits of our city’s expansion.

Read More

The Racial Wealth Gap: Where COVID-19 Meets the Lasting Impact of Racism

More than a year into the pandemic that continues to devastate families and economies worldwide, it is painfully evident that the suffering is not equally distributed. The starkly different experiences of Black Americans compared to white Americans highlight the legacy of racism and systemic segregation in the United States.

Read More

Financial Capability Month

April is National Financial Capability Month, highlighting the importance of financial education in supporting American families as they strive for prosperity and the resilience to weather unexpected setbacks.

Read More

How the American Rescue Plan of 2021 Could Transform Poverty

For the hardworking families served at Crisis Assistance Ministry, and millions of others like them across the country, the American Rescue Plan of 2021 has the potential to be life changing.

Read More