Return to Headlines

Sycamore Staff Participates in Cost of Poverty Experience

COPE Simulation What if you had to choose between paying the light bill or putting food on the table? What if you had to rely on public transportation to take your child to the doctor but that means no pay for that time away from the job?

Those are some of the tough questions that Sycamore Community Schools teachers faced while engaging in a poverty experience to better understand the daily struggles of families who experience economic fatigue.

On April 22, staff members participated in the Cost of Poverty Experience (COPE) led by facilitators from Think Tank Inc. The 2.5 hour simulation based on true stories of socio-economically disadvantaged families gave staff members a glimpse at some of the difficult decisions they often face. Also captured in the experience was the role that the broader community plays in their interactions with low-income families.

“Our hope is that by giving staff members an opportunity to move beyond stereotypes to a more holistic understanding of the causes and effects of poverty, we are able to build more empathy and outreach,” said Frank Forsthoefel, superintendent.

Staff members were given random roles in families with various low-income circumstances. During four 15-minute segments, they simulated a four-week period. Volunteers role played various community and business members, including minimum wage employers, social services, banking services, mortgage and rent, retailers, and the court system. Families had to navigate systems, with limited budgets, lack of transportation and child care.

The goal of the simulation was to build empathy and understanding for families struggling with economic fatigue.

Learn more about Sycamore's Culturally Responsive Practices Committee and our efforts to provide meaningful learning opportunities to raise awareness and foster a welcoming environment for all learners.