Poverty Simulations

An interactive simulation that highlights the lived realities and human impact of poverty.

>>See what it takes to be self-sufficient in SC.<<

Why a Simulation?

Poverty is a reality for many individuals and families. But unless you’ve experienced poverty, it’s difficult to truly understand. The Community Action Poverty Simulation (CAPS) bridges that gap from misconception to understanding. CAPS is an interactive immersion experience. It sensitizes community participants to the realities of poverty.

CAPS is not a game. It is based on real Community Action clients and their lives. CAPS exists to:  

Promote Poverty Awareness
During the simulation, role-play a month in poverty and experience low-income families’ lives.

Increase Understanding
After the simulation, you will unpack your learning and brainstorm community change.

Inspire Local Change
Together, you can be a voice to end poverty in your family, friends and community.

Transform Perspectives
The goal of CAPS is to shift the paradigm about poverty away from being seen as a personal failure and toward the understanding of poverty as structural, a failure of society.
"This simulation gave me a whole new perspective, a greater appreciation for the choices she has made AND an increased respect for my little sister- and for those just like her." – Poverty Simulation participant with a sister in poverty


What Happens During a Simulation?

Many people face the daily struggle to keep a roof over their head and to feed their children.  There are 26 families in the simulation that will be experiencing this very life. Ann is just one person in the up to 26 families part of the Poverty Simulation. 

During the Poverty Simulation, you will take on the identity of one of these families.  You will work together with your family to live a month in poverty. 

Your Simulated “community” is a large room. You and your neighbors’ “homes” are chairs in the center. The services you need like banks, schools and grocery stores are tables that line the perimeter of the room. 

The room that your simulation is set up in represents your community. Chairs in the center of the room and tables along the wall represent family homes and community services and businesses, respectively.

Like real life, you need transportation to work or school. You need food on the table. You might struggle with a chronic illness. Throughout the month you will face the daily stresses and challenges a person in poverty faces. 

Again, this simulation is not a game. It is is based on the stories of real life Community Action clients. 


Who Does Poverty 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 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

Be a part of a Poverty Simulation!

We need volunteers to help run simulations! Contact Olivia@uwandsc.org to find out how to volunteer!