A Day in the Life: Perspective on Poverty


Every day, thousands of families across Cass and Clay Counties perform an intricate financial balancing act while trying to make ends meet.

Just 7 days left on your bus pass.
Do you, once again, depend on others for a ride to work?
Say no to your daughter when all she dreams about is joining the team?
Put off a visit to the dentist and push through the pain that keeps you from concentrating at work?
What if you were forced to decide between picking up a needed prescription and putting food on the table for your kids?

Many of us, thankfully, have never had to make these kinds of choices, but thousands of local people make these choices every day.
Underlying many local social issues is a single but massive problem: POVERTY.

One of United Way’s Bold Goals is to lift people out of poverty.  To fight poverty, we must first all seek to understand it.

Download the Shareable PDF

Read the InForum's full story about the event here

*Due to the nature of this experience we ask that all participants be at least 16 years of age or older


What is A Day in the Life: Perspective on Poverty

What Is It?

This event is an interactive immersion experience that depicts real-life scenarios faced by many of the families living in poverty in Cass and Clay Counties who are sometimes one paycheck away from homelessness or crisis.

How Does It Work?

Alice is 34. She could be your neighbor, a woman you ran into at the grocery store, or someone living in your community you have never met before. Like many others who live in poverty, Alice is fighting against many barriers just to keep a roof over her families head and food on the table. Alice is a member of one of the many families that make up the experience.

During this experience, you will take on the identity of someone like Alice. You and your family will work together to sustain yourself as you live a month in poverty. You will be surrounded by a community of others experiencing their own challenges and given personal and community resources like schools, banks, and grocery stores.

Just like real life, you'll have bills to pay,  you'll need transportation, food on the table, medical care, a source of income and more. Throughout the simulated month, you will face the challenges a person in poverty faces. These are real-life situation that people face every single day in our community. You'll experience what a day in the life for those in our community facing poverty is like and learn what you can do to help.

Get Informed and then Advocate…Learn More About Poverty in Our Community

Two of the most popular requests that we receive after people experience "A Day in the Life Perspective on Poverty Event" is:

How Do I Learn More?
How Do I Take Action?

We invite you to be an informed advocate about this issue in our community!

Explore the links below.
o Reducing Hunger & Homelessness - Housing First
o Preparing Children to Succeed - Quality Afterschool Programming
o Helping People be Independent - Adverse Childhood Experiences
o Lifting People out of Poverty - Two Generation Model

Then, take action by posting on social media about your experience today.

Think about:
-What surprised you?
-Did you have any "a-ha" moments?
-What do you want other people to know?

Post on social media with #LIVEUNITEDCassClay or #ForceforGoodCassClay, we can share your comments with others, too!

You can also take action as an informed advocate by sharing your experience with your family, friends, coworkers, and local elected officials. Thank you for being a Force for Good and turning your experience into action for our community.

Volunteer to Join Us!

Already participated in "A Day in The Life"? We need your help in making these events impactful! In order to make this event a success, we need great volunteers to play community roles to help depict the real-life situations those in poverty face every day. Help us create awareness in our community for those living in poverty by volunteering for one or multiple sessions!

Check out volunteer opportunity dates and times below!

All are welcome to participate in this event! We encourage you to share this with your friends and colleagues who may be interested in this event. Due to the nature of the simulation, we ask that all attendees commit to being there for the entire three hours.

For questions, email our team at unitedway@unitedwaycassclay.org or call us at 701-237-5050.

The Community Action Poverty Simulation (CAPS) is owned by the Missouri Community Action Network. If you are interested in learning more about the Community Action Poverty Simulation or purchasing a CAPS kit license, please visit communityaction.org or povertysimulation.net.


“Today I participated in “A Day in the Life: A Perspective on Poverty”. I lived a month as a 19 year old high school dropout and single mother of a 1 year old with a live-in boyfriend. I thought making ends meet would be a simple exercise in good planning. One tiny transportation mishap later and the realities of the difficult situation started compounding. All my planning was for naught as I struggle with complexities such as not being able to pay rent until my boyfriend got home with cash or constantly running out of bus passes. Managing time and errands efficiently proved to be impossible. I ended the month in a far worse situation than I began, and we were amongst the luckiest of families in the simulation...”

- Karri Mitchell, Microsoft & 35 Under 35 Women’s Leadership Alumni