First State Hosts Poverty Simulation Volunteer Training Workshop in Dover

On December 4th, the Community Development Department partnered with Delaware State University to facilitate a Poverty Simulation Volunteer Orientation at the MLK Student Center, Delaware State University, in Dover, DE. Over fifty volunteers which included nearly forty DSU students took part in the training. (See more photos below) The simulation provided an interactive experience designed to sensitize individuals to the stress and realities of life for families with low incomes. Volunteers were separated into groups ranging in size to represent the individuals and "families" living in poverty. They were were provided hypothetical scenarios reflecting the unique, real-life challenges people of low incomes face. With only limited dollars and resources and the occasional "unexpected" emergencies, each "family" had to go through a month of taking care of their basic needs and monthly expenses including rent/mortgage, food, utilities, childcare, clothing, employment, education, medical bills and prescriptions. Service provider organizations were available to assist "qualified applicants" or those who could access the services. Even with support from service providers and helping organizations, most families were unable to adequately take care of all their essential needs. For most participants, this experience was eye-opening, challenging and very impactful. The goals of the poverty simulations are to promote poverty awareness, to increase understanding among citizens and to inspire local change. First State plans to use these simulations as a powerful, advocacy tool to educate the general public, state leaders and policy makers about the clients we serve and their daily hardships/realities. We hope this in turn will lead to important changes in attitudes, perceptions, legislation and policies affecting those living in poverty as well as support for programs and initiatives that lift Delaware residents out of it.

For individuals interested in participating in a full-scale poverty simulation, please contact Bruce Wright at

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