Published on April 23, 2018 by Maryellen Newton  
poverty simulation

Alabama is the seventh poorest state in the nation, and nearly 900,000 residents live in poverty, including 300,000 children. These are sobering statistics that Alabama Possible provides while hosting poverty simulations across the state. 

On Tuesday, April 17, Samford University’s Frances Marlin Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership student-led group Partners Acting in the Community Today (PACT) partnered with Alabama Possible to hold a poverty simulation on campus. 

The Mann Center coordinates service cadres every semester to integrate faith and service learning. These cadres engage students with the community in mutually beneficial partnerships, coordinated through PACT.  

At the simulation, 65 participants were organized into different family units and given resources to survive as a family for a month. There were various stations set up around Seibert Gym for the participants, including a pawn shop, health care, a public school, social services, a homeless shelter and a prison. The participants had to live on the little that they had for a month, separated into four 15-minute sessions acting as a week. 

PACT president Casey Cunningham, discussed the importance of showing the reality of poverty to Samford students. “A lot of students at Samford don’t know what it would actually be like,” she said. “Hopefully this gives an idea of what it’s like and what it’s like to empathize with people.” Cunningham is a senior English major from Greenville, South Carolina. 

Immediately following the one-hour simulation, participants were able to discuss what they learned and how they take this information to help others moving forward. 

Maryellen Newton is a journalism and mass communication major and a news and feature writer in the Division of Marketing and Communication.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.