The Faith & Family Homelessness Project ended in 2016, and the School of Theology and Ministry no longer facilitates poverty simulation workshops.

If you would like to learn more about the School of Theology and Ministry, please visit

If you would like to learn more about School of Theology and Ministry’s Center for Religious Wisdom & World Affairs, which is working to foster more effective faith-based responses to our most pressing social problems, like homelessness and the affordable housing crisis, visit

About the workshop:

The Community Action Poverty Simulation (CAPS), created by the Missouri Community Action Network, 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 people living on low incomes.

The simulation is conducted in a large room with the “families” seated in groups in the center of the room. Around the perimeter are tables representing community resources and services for the families. These services include a bank, supermarket, community action agency, employer, utility company, pawnbroker, social service agency, faith-based agency, payday and title loan facility, mortgage and rent company, school, community health center, and child care center.

The experience lasts about three hours. It includes an introduction and briefing, the actual simulation exercise, and a debriefing period during which participants and volunteer staffers share their feelings, reflections, and observations, and make connections between what they have learned through the simulation about the challenges of living in poverty and their own or others’ real-life experiences of poverty and homelessness.

The simulation ends with a Call to Action and a handout/discussion of Things You Can Do in your community to fight to end poverty and homelessness.

In the News

  1. Poverty Workshop St James Article IYM May 2015
  2. Washington Post article by Program Manager Lisa Gustaveson about the outcomes of the workshops: Gwyneth Paltrow doesn’t understand how America’s poor live, and neither do you. 
  3. Walking In Their Footsteps: A poverty simulation’s call to solidarity– a reflection about the simulation experience written by an STM MDiv student who works at the Intercommunity Peace and Justice Center and participated in an October 2014 poverty workshop we put on for Just Faith graduates
  4. Poverty Immersion Workshops Build Understanding: September 2013 piece about the purpose and impact of poverty simulations
  5. Simulating Poverty Gives Charity Supporters a Taste of Hard Times: March 2016 piece from The Chronicle of Philanthropy about the purpose and impact of poverty simulations on a national scale

  6. ‘Poverty Simulation’ Raises Awareness in Kirkland: King 5 story on poverty simulation at Holy Family Kirkland in February 2016HFK King 5 story screen shot.png

Listen to this local interview about the simulation experience! The interview starts at 7:00 into the show. 

Host your own simulation!

Is your organization interested in facilitating poverty simulation workshops for your employees, volunteers, students and/or the larger community? Consider purchasing the kit! It current costs $2,150 and is well worth the investment. Learn more and purchase here >>


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