Search About Contact Home
Cooperative Extension University of Wisconsin-Extension
photo of families enjoying life
Family Living Programs


Conferences and Seminars

Co-op Connection

For Your Information (FYI) Blog Sites

Impact Reports - How we work to support Wisconsin families

Publicaciones En Español


Wisconsin Families - Issues and Demographics

Join Our Team



Poverty Simulation

What do I need to know to conduct a Poverty Simulation?

Most of what you need to know about planning and conducting a simulation is outlined here. Some of this information can help you decide if you want to put on a simulation, and some of it will help you proceed with planning once you’ve decided to go ahead. You will not receive the actual Poverty Simulation kit until a week or so before your scheduled simulation.

  • Your responsibilities
    • The Poverty Simulation kit is loaned out from the state FL office (; (608)263-7321). There is no charge. It’s recommended that you check availability prior to planning a date for your event – the kit books well in advance.
    • The kit is loaned only to UWEX staff, and Extension is considered a sponsor or co-sponsor of a simulation.
    • The UWEX staff person borrowing the kit is responsible for returning the kit to the state Family Living office within one week of the simulation. Restocking and reassembling the kit is a huge job – you should make sure you have time set aside in the few days after your simulation to do this before you decide to borrow the kit.
    • There is, of course, an evaluation form enclosed in the kit for the facilitator (you) and for each participant. We ask that you use this evaluation at the end of your simulation and return completed evaluations to the state office when you return the kit.
  • Reserving the kit
    • You can reserve the kit by contacting Kadi Row (; (608)263-7321) at the state Family Living office.
    • The simulation kit contains everything you need for your simulation, including props, instructions, scripts and debriefing questions.
    • You will receive kit approximately 1-2 weeks in advance of your simulation
    • You may request some of the introductory and planning materials in advance if needed.
  • Training
    • There is no formal training needed for the Poverty Simulation. We strongly recommend that you attend another simulation, and ideally serve on another person’s planning committee, before attempting to conduct a simulation on your own.
    • The state Family Living office (; (608)263-7321) can provide you with a schedule of upcoming simulations, so you can find one to attend.
  • Planning steps
    • There is a guide with planning steps and timelines that may help you with planning. You may request some of the introductory and planning materials in advance by contacting the state Family Living office,; (608)263-7321.
    • It is recommended that you work with a team or committee on the event. You’ll need help running the simulation, the debriefing, setting up the room, recruiting and training staffers, registration, putting the kit back together after the event, etc.
    • Here is a sample brochure for promoting your event.
  • Time needed
    • The entire program (introduction, simulation itself, and debriefing) takes approximately 2 ½ hours.
    • The room set up can take up to 1 hour, depending on support you have available.
    • Training for “staffers” will take an additional hour, at some point prior to the event.
  • Space needed
    • 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 the families.
    • This requires a large room, approximately 3,000 square feet
    • There is a diagram available to help you arrange tables and chairs
    • For a full house of 75 participants and 15 staffers, you will need approximately 140 chairs and 13 tables
    • A microphone is very handy to have with a large group in a large room.
  • Participants
    • The simulation is designed for 40 – 75 people
    • You will need to know prior to the event almost exactly how many people will attend. You will adjust the simulation accordingly.
  • Staffers
    • In addition to the 40-75 participants, you will need to recruit an additional 15 staffers (not including yourself). These people will staff the various resources stations around the room.
    • Staffers need to be trained in advance. This takes approximately 45 minutes. Training materials are provided in the kit.
    • Who should be recruited as staffers? Ideally, staffers are individuals who have experience living in poverty themselves, or individuals who have previously attended a simulation. A great addition is to recruit a staffer that is fluent in a language other than English. Have that person play the grocer role and instruct them to speak no English during the simulation.
  • Debriefing
    • At the end of the simulation, you will conduct a debriefing where participants can discuss and share their experiences
    • This is a crucial part of the experience and you will find that participants are eager to have this discussion
    • Complete instructions for the debriefing and questions for participants are provided.

For more information

University of Wisconsin-Extension
© 2015 Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System, doing business as the Division of Cooperative Extension of the University of Wisconsin-Extension. If you have trouble accessing this page, require this information in an alternative format or wish to request a reasonable accommodation because of a disability contact:

Comments to:
Please read our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.