Poverty Simulation

Millions of Americans live in poverty every day. Many more have incomes above the poverty line, but their incomes are still low enough that they can’t afford basic needs like food, decent housing, or quality child care.

It is difficult for those of us who have enough to truly understand the situations that families living in poverty experience every day – the decisions they have to make, and the fears and frustrations they feel. That is why we invite you to experience the realities of those facing poverty by participating in a Poverty Simulation.

A simulation involves 40 to 80 participants who take on the roles of members of 26 families, all facing a variety of challenging, but typical, circumstances. Some are homeless, others jobless, and some are suddenly faced with the responsibility of raising grandchildren. In addition, about 20 volunteers play roles of resource providers and businesses in the simulated community.

The program is conducted in a large room. Those playing family member roles are seated in clusters in the center of the room, while the community resources and businesses are located around the perimeter.

Each family is given a packet containing information about their unique circumstances. It’s then the families’ task to provide food, shelter, and other basic necessities by accessing the various resources during the course of four 15-minute “weeks”.

The activity lasts from two-and-a-half to three hours. It includes an introduction and briefing by a facilitator, the simulation exercise, and a facilitated debriefing during which everyone shares what they learned about living in poverty.

The Poverty Simulation is a profoundly moving experience. It helps people begin to understand what life is like with a shortage of money and an abundance of stress.

Are you interested in hosting or sponsoring a Poverty Simulation for your business, church, social club, or community organization?

We can customize one for your group of 40 to 100 people. Contact Brightpoint at (260) 423-3546, ext. 286, for more information.


“This simulation helped me to understand the effects of poverty on both individuals and families. It was very eye-opening to see the struggles that people living in poverty face every day – it was a very ‘one stop forward, two steps back’ experience. It was especially frustrating when I found myself trying to ‘get ahead’, but kept falling further and further back with every stride. This simulation was very realistic… more college students should experience this! Thank you so much for this valuable opportunity!”

“By participating in the poverty simulation I now have a better understand of the obstacles families living in poverty go through. I now have a softer heart for them and will be more accepting and helpful to families that are less fortunate. I can now emphasize with the families and children better and I will be able to help them in any way I can.”

“I have a greater appreciation of what people have to deal with on a daily basis to provide for their families. Children are constantly affected by their family’s lives and will take that with them everywhere they go. I greatly appreciate what Brightpoint does for the community!”