School of Social Work, NATCO Community Empowerment Center to host poverty simulation and roundtable discussion with Glenda Ritz

The Indiana University East School of Social Work will host a poverty simulation and public roundtable discussion with Superintendent of Public Instruction for the Indiana Department of Education Glenda Ritz and community speakers on Wednesday, September 23, in Whitewater Hall.

The poverty simulation is from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the lobby of Whitewater Hall. The simulation is open to all students, faculty, staff and community members who would like to participate.The simulation will help students to understand what it is like to live in poverty including what it might be like to be homeless; the impact of poverty and a student’s ability to learn; and the impact of poverty on health.

Sheila Armstead, field coordinator/clinical assistant professor of social work, said after the simulation, there will be a debriefing for the participants to share their experience to learn how they can get involved in reducing poverty.

“The poverty simulation is a project to educate our school community and community as a whole as an effort to break the stereotypes of persons living in poverty and allow individuals to ‘walk in the shoes’ of persons living in poverty. Poverty crosses many boundaries, religions, persons living with abilities, race, children, adults, elderly and most of all the impact it has on everyday life and work it takes to achieve self-sufficiency. I have used this simulation in my diversity classes and Intro to Social Work,” Armstead said.

The community is invited to the roundtable discussion with Ritz and community speakers that will follow the poverty simulation. The roundtable discussion is 2:30-4 p.m. in Vivian Auditorium, located in Whitewater Hall.

Ritz will discuss her documentary on “The State of the Classroom,” which puts a spotlight on the need for wrap-around services for Indiana’s most vulnerable students. The documentary is produced by the Indiana Department of Education in partnership with the Indiana Public Broadcasting Stations. Ritz will provide an update from the Department of Education. The community will then be invited to ask the panelists questions.

Dana Sinclair, community outreach coordinator for the NATCO Community Empowerment Center, is one of the community speakers participating on the roundtable discussion panel.

“The poverty simulation is an opportunity for our community to get just a glimpse into the reality of life for those living in the poverty environment. Wayne County has a 23 percent poverty rate and many people still don’t understand what that means. They don’t understand the daily, weekly, or monthly struggle to make ends meet and to take care of one’s family,” Sinclair said.

Sinclair said she was excited to be asked to work with IU East students to provide the poverty simulation.

“The majority of people that struggle work, the majority of people in poverty struggle to meet their basic needs of shelter, food and transportation. Many of us don’t see that and this simulation gives them an opportunity to see just that, on a very small scale. The goal of the simulation for IU East students is to help better prepare them for their future success in working with people in poverty. With a better understanding, they can better see the world and often times change the world,” Sinclair said.

The roundtable panelists will include:

  • Glenda Ritz, Superintendent of Public Instruction for the Indiana Department of Education
  • Dana Sinclair, community outreach coordinator for the NATCO Community Empowerment Center
  • Markous Jewitt, director of the Excel Center of Richmond
  • Susan Isaacs, director of the Grassroots Action Resource Center
  • Kiersten Aubre-Howard, Richmond High School partnership coordinator for Communities in Schools
  • Amy Jarecki, associate director of the Office of Financial Aid at IU East
  • Akia A. Haynes, deputy director and general counsel for the Indiana Civil Rights Commission
  • Lee Ann Goeke, student advocate at Richmond Adult Education

Reservations to attend the poverty simulation are required. To RSVP, contact Sheila Armstead at (765) 973-8534 or email