Contact Us

University of Illinois Extension serving Christian, Jersey, Macoupin and Montgomery Counties

Montgomery County
#1 Industrial Park Dr.
Hillsboro, IL 62049
Phone: 217-532-3941
FAX: 217-532-3944
Hours: Monday - Friday 8 am to 12 pm; 1 pm to 4:30 pm

Christian County
1120 N Webster St.
Taylorville, IL 62568
Phone: 217-287-7246
FAX: 217-287-7248
Hours: Monday - Friday 8 am to 11:30 am; 12:30 pm to 4:30 pm

Jersey County
201 W. Exchange St.
Suite A
Jerseyville, IL 62052
Phone: 618-498-2913
FAX: 618-498-5913
Hours: Tuesday & Wednesday 8 am to 12 pm; 1 pm to 4 pm and Thursday 8 am to 12 pm

Macoupin County
#60 Carlinville Plaza
Carlinville, IL 62626
Phone: 217-854-9604
FAX: 217-854-7804
Hours: Monday - Thursday 8 am to 12 pm; 1 pm to 4:30 pm

News Release

Accent photo

Teachers participate in live-action poverty simulation

Over 100 educators from the Pana school district, as well as Mid-State Special Education, participated in a poverty simulation offered by University of Illinois Extension at Pana High School Friday, Feb. 17. The simulation entitled “Community Action Poverty Simulation” (CAPS) promotes a greater understanding of poverty through a live-action simulation.

During the poverty simulation, participants role-play the lives of low-income families from single parents trying to care for their children to senior citizens trying to maintain their self-sufficiency on Social Security. Poverty is a reality for many individuals and families. However, unless a person has experienced poverty, it is difficult to understand. Community Action Poverty Simulation (CAPS) bridges the gap from misconception to understanding. CAPS is an interactive immersion experience. It sensitizes community participants to the realities of poverty. CAPS is not a game. It is based on real Community Action clients and their lives.

During the simulation, participants reenacted living a month in poverty and experienced a low-income families' life. After the simulation, participants broke into smaller groups and discussed what they experienced and brainstormed ideas for community change. Continue education credits were available for educators who participated.

Poverty in Christian County:

In Christian County, almost 14.6% of individuals live below the poverty level (according to the U.S. Census, 2011-2015 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates). That is a 1.5% increase since 2013. The 2016 Report on Illinois Poverty Social IMPACT Research Center also states that in 2014 Christian County had 4,639 people living in poverty, which is an increase of 368 people from previous year. In addition, the child poverty rate in 2014 was 20.2%. The median household income for the county in 2014 was $46,870, which was a 6.6% decrease from the previous year. The average amount poor families’ income falls below the poverty line (i.e. mean income deficit), 2010-2014 was $8,905. This is in contrast with the State of Illinois as a whole, which recorded a slight decrease in the poverty rate and number of people living in poverty, and also saw median household income increase slightly.

For more information about hosting a poverty simulation in your community, please contact Amanda Cole, County Director, University of Illinois Extension, 217-532-3941 or by email

University of Illinois Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment. If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in this program, please contact our office. Universidad de Illinois ofrece igualdad de oportunidades en programas y empleo. Si usted necesita un ajuste razonable para participar en este programa, por favor póngase en contacto con nuestra oficina.



Photo Caption: Gary Letterly, University of Illinois Extension Educator, plays the part of a pawnshop owner during a poverty simulation held at Pana High School. Participants in the poverty simulation often had to turn to alternative methods of making ends meet, such as selling possessions at a pawnshop.

Local Contact: Amanda Cole, County Extension Director,