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QC Organizations Host Poverty Simulation

The Moline Foundation

Over one third of families in the Quad Cities cannot afford the cost of living, according to the United Way. To raise awareness of local poverty, local organizations are hosting a virtual poverty simulation. 

Susan Zelnio of the Moline Foundation says tomorrow, participants will be given $1,000 each. Their goal is to survive to the end of the month, with money left over for the next. 

“You might have a toothache. Do you go see the dentist, or don’t you? You might hit a car in a parking lot. Do you tell the person about it, or don’t you? It all costs money, but that $1,000 disappears extremely quickly.” 

Zelnio says the first time people go through the simulation, they make choices based on their morals — and often, don’t survive the month. The second time through, they’re more likely to compromise — and more likely to survive. 

“You understand that the goal is to get through. Kind of like people in poverty, the goal is to get through to the next month. And so, you’re willing to make those choices. They do not sit well with people. The hard choices you have to make do not sit well, because they go against what you were brought up to believe.” 

The poverty simulation is free and open to anyone. To register for the simulation — or for the post-simulation workshop — visit the University of Illinois Extension website. 

Marianna Bacallao is WVIK Quad Cities NPR's 2020-2021 Fellowship Host/Reporter. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Mercer University's Center for Collaborative Journalism and served as Editor-in-Chief for the student newspaper, The Cluster.