Many school districts have experienced significant growth in poverty in their student populations in recent years.  With this growing number of economically disadvantaged students have come new challenges and the need to find creative solutions to this growing problem. A first step is to help educators develop empathy and understanding about some of the complicated issues people in poverty face. 


The Poverty Simulation is an opportunity for educators to participate in an experience that will sensitize them to the day to day realities of life for people with low incomes trying to survive. Participants assume the roles of low-income family members living on a limited budget and interact with volunteers playing the roles of service providers and other community agency employees to obtain help. After participating in the simulation, many educators have shared that they could “feel the chaos and fear caused by living in poverty.” They began to understand some of the difficult choices that must be made on a daily basis.

During the simulation, families are expected to meet the following goals:

  • Keep their home secure

  • Feed their family

  • Keep utilities on

  • Pay all bills

  • Deal with unexpected situations

  • Interface with community service providers to access resources and services

When the simulation is over, family members and service providers share experiences, identify
misconceptions and discuss positive actions that can be taken to reduce the serious effects of poverty
on students and their families. 




  • Promote poverty awareness

  • Increase understanding 

  • Inspire change within in your school and community

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University at Albany 
1400 Washington Ave
Catskill B27
Albany, NY 12222  

© 2020 Capital Area School Development Association