Caroline Loftin

contributing writer

Economic exclusion impacts each individual differently. People suffer financial blow after blow due to race, gender, sexual orientation, education, or economic background. Project A.L.I.C.E. aims to educate and empower emerging adults to prioritize the gospel initiative to care for people who are economically marginalized and excluded. The name comes from the term often used in community development and social service organizations, and it stands for “Asset Limited, Income Constrained, and Employed.”

A Project A.L.I.C.E. Workshop will take place on the Arkansas State University campus on September 23 and 24 hosted by The Wesley Foundation and led by Reverend Sarah Ellzey.

The purpose of the workshop is to connect participants to the compassion and resources to aid the asset-limited, income constrained, and employed members of their communities and spheres of influence, both presently and in their future vocations.

They will kick off the weekend with a ‘People’s Supper,’ a community-building model created to foster meaningful connection, conversation, and understanding of poverty in America. Gathering around a table to share a meal helps to establish the intimacy and trust necessary for healing.

On Saturday morning, they will host speakers from local nonprofits and facilitate a poverty simulation experience for participants. The activity requires them to make it through a month on the same budget as a single parent with a job that doesn’t earn a living wage. Participants will also have the opportunity to plan and execute a $2,500 mini-grant for a local community service initiative of their choosing.

“Our goal is to educate young people about the realities of A.L.I.C.E. from the personal, interpersonal, societal, and political spheres,” says Rev. Sarah Ellzey of The Wesley at Arkansas State.

Ellzey recently finished a yearlong cohort with the Micah Fellows Program and received a grant to develop and facilitate the Project A.L.I.C.E. workshop.

“Many people carry unhealthy stereotypes that blame lower-income individuals for their struggles,” Rev. Ellzey says.

The poverty simulation during the workshop serves to correct this bias with compassion and recognition of the facts of asset limitations.

“We hope to foster honest and enlightening conversations around ‘high-tension’ poverty misconceptions, as well as opportunities for participants potentially coming from A.L.I.C.E households to feel seen, empowered, and affirmed,” she continues.

By the end of the weekend, participants will be familiar with tools and resources they can apply to their current lives, their future choices, and their spiritual wholeness.

Registration for the event is $10 with aid available upon request and is open to college students and young adults ages 18-25. The deadline for registration is September 16.