Poverty Simulations

Due to the uncertainty caused by COVID-19 and the need to protect the health of our community, Crisis Assistance Ministry has suspended facilitation of the Poverty Simulation.   


For suggestions on alternate poverty awareness and education activities, 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.

I Am An Advocate

For Deborah, your support when she was at her lowest point was more than a lifeline. It was a life-changing gift that empowered her to reclaim her true self.

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The recent passage of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which directs $2.2 trillion towards the coronavirus crisis, is a ray of hope in an otherwise desperate time.

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Kim’s Current Situation

The last time Kim shared her story, she was in the midst of putting her life back together after a medical emergency and a job lay-off sent her family into a tailspin. We checked in with her for an update in the midst of our community’s current crisis.

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What To Do If You’re Out Of Work Or Have Lost Income

COVID-19 has already changed the economic landscape for many of us. If you’ve been laid off or lost income due to the threat of the novel coronavirus, it’s a scary time. Here are some helpful resources if you’re one of the more than 100,000 people in North Carolina in this situation right now.

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Funds Available To Help Families Behind on Utility Bills

Right now, many families are struggling to make choices between rent, groceries, and utility bills. Crisis Assistance Ministry can help. Special funding is currently available to prevent a disconnection of electricity or gas utilities for low income Mecklenburg County families.

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Black History Month Focuses on Right to Vote

As February ushers in this year’s national Primary season, it’s important to remember the sacrifices and historic milestones that brought each of us (at different times, through differing means) the right to vote. One way to celebrate history is to educate yourself on the issues and the candidates – from the most local offices to the White House – and make a plan for when and how you will vote.

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Poverty Simulation Prepares Nursing Students for Community Practice

For aspiring nurses, an understanding of what life is like for people in underserved communities is a critical part of their education. At UNC Charlotte, students have a chance to experience what their patients may face on a day-to-day basis through Crisis Assistance Ministry’s Poverty Simulation.

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Free Tax Preparation

Starting at the end of January, local taxpayers can get their tax returns prepared for free with Community Link as part of the IRS’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. Any household earning less than $56,000 qualifies for the service.

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Make It Count in 2020

It’s a new year and a new decade. That means it’s time for the decennial census which, as mandated by the U.S. Constitution, has occurred every ten years since 1790. The census is an important part of our democracy, helping to determine the allocation of community resources.

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North Carolina Ranks 37th on Prosperty

Weathering a financial storm is essential for all families to build towards a stronger future. New data about the financial health of our state highlights where disparities exist that prevent individuals and families from reaching economic freedom in five areas: financial assets and income, businesses and jobs, homeownership and housing, health care and education.

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Dr. King’s Other Dream

As we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. this year, we examine his “other dream” through his writings on the elimination of poverty among all Americans.

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In Her Own Words: Julia’s Story

Last year, Julia shared her story of Thanksgiving after a visit to Crisis Assistance Ministry. Yet, hidden in that one brief moment were so many more moments of loss, resilience, and hope. This fall, Julia shared her journey with Crisis Assistance Ministry volunteers gathered for their annual recognition dinner. Here, in her own words, is her story.

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