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Take the $7 Challenge with Vibrant Communities Calgary

New campaign simulates life in poverty

The $7 Challenge is Vibrant Communities Calgary’s latest campaign to put average Calgarians in the shoes of someone living on low income.

Vibrant Communities Calgary is the steward of the City of Calgary’s Enough for All poverty reduction strategy. By Vibrant Communities Calgary’s calculation, after removing basic need essentials like housing costs, all that remains for a person living below the poverty line is $7 a day. The $7 Challenge involves seeing how far one can go through their routine with just that much in their pocket – no credit cards allowed – and share their experience with others.

“It’s a simulation of sorts,” says Executive Director Franco Savoia. “To see what it’s like to live on or below the edge, and how tough it is to get by.”

Franco took on the simulation one day, and remarks that despite spending his professional life deep in the issues of poverty, the $7 Challenge had a profound psychological effect on him.

“I left home, and luckily I filled up the car days before. I’d wanted to go to the Rotary Club for lunch, but that’s at minimum $25 – which I didn’t have, so I couldn’t go.”

“Later that day, I had to go to a meeting and paid $4.50 for parking. All I had left was $2.50 to get through the day. I can’t say I now know exactly what life is like for people in poverty, but it gives you a sense.”

As Franco explains, one of the goals of Enough for All is “awareness leading to action” for poverty reduction, hoping to inspire Calgarians to make a difference within their spheres. Many on social media have claimed they don’t think they’d be able to complete the challenge themselves, but that’s the point.

The campaign is the result of an 18-month-long collaboration between Vibrant Communities Calgary, the digital marketing agencies Evans Hunt, V Strategies and Brookline Public Relations. The three organizations had been wracking their brains to create an engaging, lifelike simulation of poverty. Ideas included a “One-dollar Food Truck” where the only menu items were a cup of soup or a bologna sandwich – things that one could only afford on low-income. When living on low income, choices are limited and challenging on a daily basis.

“Numbers and statistics can be so cold,” he says. “We’re hoping this simulation captures people’s hearts and connects people in a deeper way than just reading another report.”


  1. Take on the $7 Challenge for yourself and share your experience on social media or with your friends and family using the hashtags #7dollarsaday and #enoughforallYYC.
  2. Check out Enough for All here for more information on poverty in Calgary.
  3. Connect with Vibrant Communities Calgary on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
  4. Check out Vibrant Communities Calgary’s Sustainability Profile on the REAP directory.