Schedule & Events

Poverty Simulations

Community Action Partnership of North Dakota conducts poverty simulations to large groups for educational purposes. The poverty simulation experience is designed to help participants begin to understand what it might be like to live in a typical low-income family trying to survive from month-to-month. It is a simulation, not a game. The object is to sensitize participants to the realities faced by low-income people.

In the simulation, 44 to 80 participants assume the roles of up to 26 different families facing poverty. Some families are newly unemployed, some are recently deserted by the "breadwinner", some are homeless, and others are recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), either with or without additional earned income. Other participants are senior citizens receiving Disability or Retirement or grandparents raising their grandchildren. The task of the "families" is to provide for basic necessities and shelter during the course of four 15-minute "weeks".

The simulation is conducted in a large room with the "families" seated in groups in the center. Around the perimeter are tables representing community resources and services for participants. These services include a bank, super center, Community Action Agency, employer, utility company, pawn broker, grocery store, social service agency, faith-based agency, payday and title loan facility, mortgage company, school, police department, and daycare center.

The experience lasts from two to three hours. It includes an introduction and briefing, the actual simulation exercise, and a debriefing period in which participants and volunteer staffers share their feelings and experiences and talk about what they have learned about the lives of people in poverty.

If you are interested in scheduling a simulation experience or learning more about our Poverty Simulation, please email us at

  • National CAP
  • National Community Action Foundation
  • Community Action Program Legal Services