Community Resources

Poverty Simulations

Imagine living on $410.42 per month. This is the average salary for a single person living in poverty in Oklahoma. More than 190,000 children under the age of 18 and more than a half million Oklahoma residents total are living in homes where they don’t have enough money to pay for housing, medicine, food and heat.

Poverty Simulations are a hands-on exercise facilitated by the Oklahoma Department of Commerce and several other partners designed to heighten the awareness and understanding of the day-to-day poverty that 11.8 percent of Oklahomans face daily.

Program Format

  • 20-85 participants assume the roles of up to 26 different families facing poverty. Each family is different: one may be a single unemployed mother, another an unemployed “bread-winner”, another senior citizens living off of social security, another grandparents raising grandchildren.
  • Volunteers – often people who have personally faced poverty – staff tables representing a wide array of community resources, from banks, grocery stores, community action centers, employers, utilities and other services.
  • In the 2-3 hour simulation, each family must interact with the community resources to provide food, shelter and basic necessities for their family.

Who Should Participate in a Simulation?

  • Service providers
  • Teachers
  • Legislators
  • Small business owners
  • Communities leaders
  • High school students
  • Anyone who has contact with or makes decisions about people in poverty

When’s the Next Simulation?

Watch this space for news when more simulations are scheduled.

Who Can Conduct a Simulation?

The Oklahoma Department of Commerce has a trained staff who can conduct simulations at no charge. Contact Miguel Medrano for details.

The following partners have also been trained in conducting Poverty Simulations and provide that service for a fee. Contact them for details.

Jean Cooper and Mary Ann Overall
Northeast Community Action Agency
Jay, OK
Phone: 918-253-4683 | Fax: 918-253-6059

Wanda DeBruler
DeBruler, Inc.
Edmond, OK
Phone: 405-396-2032

Inger Guiffrida
Phone: 405-364-4462

Michael Jones or Bob Brandenburg
Oklahoma Association of Community Action Agencies
Oklahoma City, OK
Phone: 405-949-1495 | Fax: 405-949-0955

Steve Shepelwich
Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City
Oklahoma City Branch
Oklahoma City, OK
Phone: 405-270-8464

Shannon Wilkerson
Community Action Project of Tulsa
Tulsa, OK
Phone: 918-382-3200 | Fax: 918-382-3213