Appalachian Community Education Initiative

The Appalachian Community Education Initiative aspires to educate West Virginia communities to better understand that the social problems we all experience are a direct result of poverty.  Pollen8, Inc. will create educational pieces to facilitate the growth of community education and to broaden the scope of knowledge to debunk stereotypes surrounding people who live in poverty and to create empathy, compassion, and a willingness to participate in change via the Community Action Poverty Simulation (CAPS).

Community Action Poverty Simulation (CAPS)

CAPS is a poverty simulation created by the Missouri Community Action Network.  Poverty is a reality for many individuals and families but unless you’ve experienced poverty, it’s difficult to truly understand. The CAPS bridges that gap from misconception to understanding. CAPS is an interactive immersion experience. It sensitizes community participants to the realities of poverty.  After the simulation, participants unpack their learning and brainstorm community change as a group.  The Community Action Poverty Simulation originated from a partnership with the City of South Charleston to help educate the community and debunk stereotypes surrounding poverty and the social problems we all experience. Together, we can be a voice to end poverty in West Virginia (Appalachian) communities.

Pollen8, Inc. believes that change comes through communication.  The best way to understand the people we serve is to truly comprehend what it is like to walk in their shoes.  The simulation is for one hour and the second hour consists of conversation as a group to gain awareness of individual experiences within the simulation and to discuss opportunities to pull together resources to provide a better life for families and children in West Virginia (Appalachian) communities.  The third and final hour will be customized based on the audience and created to meet the objectives of the partner organization.

During the Poverty Simulation, participants take on the identity of someone living in poverty. They will role-play and work together with their family to live a month (4-15 minute weeks) in poverty.  They and their neighbors’ “homes” are chairs in the center. The services they need like banks, schools and grocery stores are tables that line the perimeter of the room.  Like real life, they need transportation to work or school, food on the table, and may even struggle with a chronic illness.  Throughout the month they face the daily stresses and challenges a person in poverty faces.

Goals and Objectives:

Pollen8, Inc. created this program to provide customized simulations to share with those who create the laws (legislators and public servants), interpret those laws (judges), defend (public defenders, prosecuting attorneys, magistrates, court personnel), and support (social workers, teachers, community action programs, social services) people living on low-incomes.  The objective is to come together as a community to better understand what it is that the people we service experience living in poverty and the services they need to rise above it.  To do this, we must “change” the mind set of those who represent this at-risk population so that we can help build self-efficacy to change their own minds about themselves.

Program Details:

  • Private event- organizations can hire Pollen8, Inc. to facilitate a CAPS.
  • Public events- Pollen8, Inc. will hold annual CAPS events throughout West Virginia that will offer CEU and CLU to the target audience.
  • Associations and conferences- Pollen8, Inc. will target associations and conferences in West Virginia that are geared towards poverty and/or any social problems that stem from it.