Poverty Simulation

Unless you have experienced poverty, it's difficult to truly understand

As a participant in the Human Development and Family Studies Poverty Simulation workshop, you will simulate living as a family member experiencing poverty, or as a service provider struggling with too few resources to assist families in poverty. This interactive immersion experience is based on the Missouri Community Action Network model.

You will walk away from this experience with a new understanding of the challenges that millions of low-income individuals face every day and how communities can address these problems. The poverty simulation is a profoundly moving experience that exposes participants to the oftentimes harsh realities of poverty.

As a student, faculty, or staff member at Central Michigan University, you can participate in poverty simulation free of charge. Workshops are offered each semester.

The Poverty Simulation: Rethinking Poverty and Deepening Discussions

Poverty impacts our community

We also provide the simulation to community partners and organizations as professional development training and as an important teaching tool. Past groups who have participated include:

  • Public Schools
  • Nonprofit Organizations
  • Social Service Providers
  • College Students and Faculty
  • Government Agencies
  • Religious Organizations
  • Medical and Public Safety Groups
  • Community Organizations

We are excited to share this tool with our students, faculty, and communities as part of our commitment to raise awareness and serve those living in poverty throughout Michigan.

Gold and maroon map showing the percentage of households in financial hardship in counties in the mid-Michigan region in 2021.

This graphic identifies the percentage of households in Isabella County and surrounding counties that fall below the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) AND below the ALICE threshold. ALICE is defined as Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. These households earn above the FPL but cannot afford the basic cost of living in the county.

Currently, the FPL is used as the primary way to determine how many households are facing financial hardship in a community. As a result, a significant portion of struggling families do not qualify for public assistance.

Data were sourced from United for ALICE, which has additional information on this topic. United for ALICE partners with the Michigan Association of United Ways to bring this research to Michigan, and this work is sponsored by the Consumers Energy Foundation.