Community Action Poverty Simulation Experience:

*Video footage and editing by Moreland School District

Community Action Poverty Simulation

Silicon Valley is one of the most affluent areas in the United States, yet poverty runs deeper than one may think. According to the Supplemental Poverty Measure, nearly 1 in 5 in Santa Clara County cannot afford basic necessities each month without financial assistance.

The Community Action Poverty Simulation (CAPS) immerses us in the reality of a Silicon Valley that grows in disparity as much as prosperity. During the simulation, participants form families that work together to overcome barriers to social services, live off insufficient income, and encounter unforeseen economic obstacles along the way. This experience goes beyond role-play – participants interact with low-income community volunteers who share their own stories of day-to-day challenges as all CAPS attendees reflect on the experience together.

This core convening strategy intends to educate and engage our community members toward action. The Community Action Poverty Simulation (CAPS) is a unique tool that Step Up Silicon Valley uses to educate everyone, from policy makers to local community leaders, about the day-to-day realities of those living in poverty in Santa Clara County.


We have conducted poverty simulations with people from corporations, faith-based organizations, educational institutions, and at the nation’s capital, Washington D.C.



Awareness of poverty has increased at both the local and national level. We now share the poverty simulation experience at an international level, with nonprofit leaders in China utilizing the Step Up Poverty Simulation kit as a tool for education and awareness. Past participants have become more engaged by volunteering for a local charity or choosing to be a champion or advocate for Step Up.


Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County
Sacred Heart Community Service
Downtown Streets Team


We seek to engage the community at an even higher level. Our next goal is to bring the educational experience that CAPS offers to corporations and younger generations in order to imbue a greater understanding of the challenges that most vulnerable individuals in our community face.

If you would like to attend a poverty simulation, or if you are interested in sponsoring or hosting one at your organization, please contact Chris Miller.


Past Simulation Participants:

Cisco Systems, Inc.
Bank of America
Synpatics, Inc.
Silicon Valley Community Foundation
Sunnyvale Community Services
Leadership San Jose
Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County
Sacred Heart Community Services
City of Palo Alto
San Jose State University
Santa Clara University
Los Altos United Methodist Church
Shir Hadash Congregation
Church of the Chimes
Neighborhood Housing Services
Presentation High School
Mitty High School
Bellarmine College Preparatory
Cupertino Rotary Club
Junior League – Heritage Oaks
Stanford University
Sacred Heart Church, Saratoga
Beth David and Kol Emeth Congregations
The River Church
Diocese of San Jose