Poverty Simulations

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 Poverty Simulations, using a nationally-recognized curriculum created 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.

Participant Testimonials

Poverty Simulation F.A.Q.

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.

Read More

You Gave William Hope

“You gave me hope when I had none. And when you’re struggling like I am, hope means everything.” That’s how William describes his visit to Crisis Assistance Ministry while trying to get through the devastating impacts of renal disease, job loss, and a neglectful landlord.

Read More

Legal Aid Partnership Addresses Critical Need

Legal Aid of North Carolina’s Homeless Prevention Project volunteers call it a labor of love. Since the project began in 2014, volunteers have faithfully taught more than 3,000 residents during one-hour classes at Crisis Assistance Ministry.

Read More

Biology and Poverty: How Low Income Women Pay the Price

Period poverty. It’s not a topic normally raised during economic equity discussions, but that doesn’t make it any less relevant. For half the world’s population, menstruation is a biological reality that brings added expenses and, all too often, unwarranted stigma.

Read More

Monthly Mythbusters: Who Is Affected By Housing & Poverty?

Discussions of poverty and its impact in Charlotte-Mecklenburg often uncover a few myths and misconceptions about who is affected, how they are affected, and how the needs of struggling neighbors are (or are not) met equitably.

Read More

Interfaith Poverty Simulation Spurs Action in Matthews-Mint Hill

In the fall of 2016, with political acrimony and discord rocking the nation, retired pastor Reverend Richard Little looked around the congregation at Morning Star Lutheran Church and thought to himself, “If we can’t get together in the church to talk about our differences, where can we do that?”

Read More

National Voter Registration Day

Last year, millions of Americans didn’t vote because they missed a registration deadline. National Voter Registration Day is a day of action before state deadlines begin in October.

Read More

Hispanic Heritage Month: Celebrating Cultures and Contributions

It’s Hispanic Heritage Month! This annual celebration of the cultures and contributions of Americans who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America, runs from September 15 through October 15.

Read More

Monthly Mythbusters: Poverty, Rural vs. Urban Impact, and Banking

Discussions of poverty and its impact in Charlotte-Mecklenburg often uncover a few myths and misconceptions about who is affected, how they are affected, and how the needs of struggling neighbors are (or are not) met equitably. Each month, we’ll compile relevant topics here that show up in social media and community discussions.

Read More

Small Miracles Lead to Big Impact

Kim is a portrait of resilience and persistence. After a medical emergency and a job layoff left her and her children at risk of eviction, she turned to Crisis Assistance Ministry for help. Thanks to community support, she found a way forward and few “small miracles” along the way.

Read More

August 26 is Women’s Equality Day

Women’s Equality Day commemorates the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920, which guaranteed women the right to vote. Nearly a century later, has that legal right translated to equality for women?

Read More

Partnership Rallies Community to Help Lake Arbor Families

When more than 170 families at Lake Arbor apartments received notice to move out before year’s end, Crisis Assistance Ministry joined a partnership of agencies to help affected residents avoid homelessness. Initial estimates show the community will need an additional $350,000 to assist affected families.

Read More