Community Action Poverty Simulation

The McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement advances transformative service throughout the University and fights poverty through education in Mississippi. Our community engagement work seeks to impact low-income families in our state because more than 1 in 5 Mississippians live in poverty, including nearly 1 in 3 children under the age of 18.

To help raise awareness and inspire UM students to take action, the McLean Institute will host our first Community Action Poverty Simulation on Tuesday, October 27, 2015, from 4-7 pm in the Student Union Ballroom.

The poverty simulation is hosted by the McLean Institute and made possible thanks to generous sponsorship from the African-American Studies Program, Department of Social Work, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Division of Student Affairs, Division of Outreach and Continuing Education, Ole Miss Athletics, Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies, School of Applied Sciences, School of Education, and Student Disability Services.

Registration for the poverty simulation is NOW CLOSED. You may register for a spot on the waiting list by completing the form below.


The poverty simulation was developed by the Missouri Association for Community Action and has been used at the University of Mississippi Medical Center as a successful learning tool to help people understand the realities of poverty. It was brought to the McLean Institute by Anna Grace Stout, a UM student who was so impacted by participating in the experience as an intern at UMMC that she is writing her honors thesis about poverty simulations as a participatory learning tool.

During the simulation, participants make decisions mirroring the day-to-day realities of low-income households representing TANF recipients, disabled individuals receiving government assistance, and senior citizens on Social Security. Participants must navigate the stresses of providing for basic necessities and shelter on a limited budget during the course of four 15-minute “weeks.” They also interact with volunteers portraying human service agents, grocers, pawnbrokers, bill collectors, job interviewers, police officers, and others in the community.

The Community Action Poverty Simulation invites participants to look at poverty from a variety of angles and then to recognize and discuss the potential for change within their local communities. The simulation was designed to raise awareness among those who frequently deal with low-income families, as well as to create a broader awareness of the realities of poverty among policymakers, community leaders, and others.

For more information or to become a sponsor, please contact Laura Martin at 662-915-2078 or at