CWU News

CWU Poverty Simulation Provides Students and Community Unique Insight

Poverty ReenactmentImagine having to choose between buying food and paying the electric bill or selling your belongings to afford needed medications. Central Washington University is offering the community and students a hands-on lesson in poverty during the 5th Annual Poverty Simulation on January 27 from 1 to 4 p.m. in the SURC Ballroom.

A poverty simulation is a role-playing exercise designed to build a greater awareness of the issues facing low-income families and the challenges they face.

“It’s a deep dive for many who’ve never personally experienced poverty, and a chance for those who have to share their perspectives,” said assistant professor of Family and Child Life Sarah Feeney.

During the exercise participants will navigate four 15-minute “weeks” as a member of a low-income family, and community volunteers will play the role of local services and businesses. A conversation will follow about how the experiences of families in the simulation relate to issues in our community, as well as potential solutions and actions.

Last year, the event had record attendance of more than 70 participants and 20 volunteer representatives from HopeSource, Kittitas Housing Authority, Merritt Resource Services, The City of Ellensburg, and Bright Beginnings for Kittitas County. This year, County Commissioner Obie O’Brien has volunteered to participate, further expanding community involvement.

Feeney organizes this event as part of a class, but believes that the Poverty Simulation is beneficial to all college students and the community as a whole.

For more information about the Poverty Simulation, contact Sarah Feeney at 509-963-2292,

Media contact: Dawn Alford, Department of Public Affairs, 509-963-1484,