A National Resource to Support Excellence in Community Action

Expanding Understanding About Poverty

Expanding Understanding About Poverty:

Activities to Help with Staff/Board Development

and to Increase Community Awareness

Playing for Change

We wanted to share this Playing for Change video as a way to celebrate the vital role of Community Action Agencies - Helping People. Changing Lives. - across the nation. Learn more about Playing for Change - Virtual CAP news feed (December 14, 2010).

The Promise of Community Action

Community Action changes people’s lives, embodies the spirit of hope, improves communities, and makes America a better place to live. We care about the entire community, and we are dedicated to helping people help themselves and each other.

Educational Activities

Here are two activities from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:

The Stack of the Deck: An Illustration of the Root Causes of Poverty
Uses three volunteers and a series of guided exchanges of playing cards to illustrate how a person’s background, experiences, and choices can impact his or her opportunities and economic status.

Take a Step Activity Illustrating Disadvantages and Factors Leading to Poverty
An effort to help participants reflect on the “unequal playing field” that benefits some while making it more likely that others will be left behind.

See Poverty, Be the Difference

Donna Beegle has been a featured speaker and trainer at numerous Community Action conferences. In her own words:

"My education, my work, and my passion are to help people from all races who are trapped in poverty. I want them to have genuine options for lifelong success. This can only happen if the voices of those struggling with poverty can be heard and their perspectives understood.

Poverty is resolvable, however, making a difference for people who live in the crisis of poverty requires a paradigm shift. A shift that moves us beyond stereotypes and judgement to a deeper understanding of the causes of poverty and its impact on human beings. With this awareness, we can work together to provide genuine opportunities for people to move out of poverty."

Here's a great resource from Dr. Beegle that provides some tools and activities for educating, communicating, and working more effectively with people of all ages who live in poverty and hopefully inspire you to want to learn and do more!

See Poverty, Be the Difference: Discover the Missing Pieces for Working with People in Poverty
A resource that provides an authentic opportunity for gaining a foundation, rooted in lived experience and research, for understanding poverty and addressing its impacts. It is designed to shatter stereotypes with facts about poverty and to provide concrete tools and ideas for creating programs and systems that are responsive to the needs of people living in poverty conditions. Please use it as a tool to help you be the missing piece and truly make a difference for students and families who live in poverty.


What Choices Would You Make? This is one of the most popular items that's been featured on Virtual CAP's news feed:

SPENT - An interactive online game to help people really learn about the tough choices facing many Americans each and every day!

Could you live off of $438 a week? - Condensed version of Poverty Simulator
Marketplace, American Public Media (October 5, 2012)

Community Action Poverty Simulation

The Missouri Association for Community Action developed the Community Action Poverty Simulation to help raise awareness about different aspects of poverty that can lead to discussion about the potential for change in local communities.

Community Action Poverty Simulation (Virtual CAP description)

Pretending to be poor can change your perspective
Marketplace, American Public Media (October 9, 2012)


The Circles® Campaign is a transformational approach that partners volunteers and community leaders with families wanting to make the journey out of poverty. Operating in communities around the country, each Circles® initiative consists of families working to get out of poverty and several middle and upper income Allies who befriend them and lend support.

CAAs in a number of states are involved with this initiative. See Virtual CAP description of Circles for more information.

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