Poverty Simulation: Making Poverty Visable

Due to the events surrounding COVID-19, Poverty Simulation on April 7, 2020 has been cancelled.

For more information about PLU’s Coronavirus response, click here.


The Poverty Simulation workshop is a unique interactive experience that helps participants begin to understand what life is like with a shortage of money and an abundance of stress. During the Poverty Simulation Workshop, participants simulate a month in the life of someone living on a limited income. Participants role play as either a family member that is living near the poverty line or a community resource that serves these impoverished families.

Role of the Participant: “Participants role-play the lives of low-income families from single parents trying to care for their children to senior citizens trying to maintain their self sufficiency on Social Security”(communityaction.org). The struggles affect all in different ways.

Role of the Community Resource Provider: Those in this role take on providing various resources available to the community. Community Resource Providers may be a teacher, a police officer, a social worker, a banker, etc. who have their own job to perform. Those who have previously participated in a poverty simulation or lived through poverty are encouraged to register for these roles. There will be a brief orientation for folks signing up as Community Resource Providers, so plan on being at the Poverty Simulation a half hour early.

“I believe that the workshop is meaningful because it forces people to interact in a way that is similar to those are forced to when living in poverty. The best way to learn something is having an emotional attachment to it, and I saw a lot of emotions: frustration, desperation, confusion, and anger being the most prominent. I believe that that it is important because most people are quick to blame an individual for their situation, but in trying to live it, one can see exactly just how much blame the system deserves.”

-Alaa A., Community Member

I can’t say enough about how much your time meant to the Christensen staff and more important the Christensen School Community that we all support. This was an amazing experience that we have referred back to daily as we strive to support all of our students and families.”

-Tim Enfield (Principal, Christensen Elementary School; Franklin Pierce Schools 2017)