POV-SIM-photoCAP Services’ poverty simulations are an opportunity for individuals to obtain first-hand knowledge of many of the same situations and decisions experienced by low-income households.

The experience involves participants assuming a role in a family (grandparent raising grandchildren, single parent, unmarried adults living together, two-parent household). Family units are provided with background information regarding their income and expenses and are asked to achieve goals over the “4-week” simulation experience (pay bills, feed children, get them to school, go to work or get a job, access community resources).

It is a simulation, not a game. The object is to sensitize participants to the realities faced by low-income people. The choices participants make over the time period vary from one simulation to another. 

Poverty simulations are a great opportunity for any group wishing to learn more about the challenges affecting low-income households. CAP has facilitated simulations for:

  • Conference participants
  • College students
  • Civic groups
  • Community leadership programs
  • Corporate development workshops
“The poverty simulation was an eye- and heart-opener.”
-Citizens First Credit Union
“What a powerful activity! Attendees were still talking about it on the last day of the conference and we heard from several attendees that it was an excellent event.”
-National Wellness Institute

If you would like more information about poverty simulations, please contact:



What participants are saying:

“The real emotions I felt during the hour—stress, guilt, depression—were the most valuable part of the experience.”
“I felt the stress and anxiety of struggling with every payment and challenge.”
“This helped me to understand the challenges and struggles faced by families in need.” 
“Walking in the shoes of someone in poverty really made me determined to help do what I can.”

Video from a poverty simulation held at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point for students in the School of Education.