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United Way Poverty Simulation

Purpose: To help participants learn about and understand the realities of what it's like to live in poverty.   


Overview: The United Way of Northeast Florida uses a poverty simulation to help sensitize and teach participants about the realities that those living in poverty face on a week-to-week basis. Participants are placed into roles representative of Jacksonville families. Some" families" are newly unemployed, some are homeless, others are single parents 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." Simulations last 2-3 hours. 


If you're interested in conducting a United Way Poverty Simulation with your students, please contact the Center for Community-Based Learning and visit our site for information about previously enacted poverty simulations.  


Reflection: United Way builds a large group reflection and debriefing session into the last hour.  Faculty and staff can ask for adaptations or conduct additional reflections on their own. A post-game discussion takes place to process the ideas and feelings created by the experience. 


Number of Participants: 40-80 participants divided into "families."