Calhoun County, Illinois

This profile presents Calhoun County’s demographic characteristics, prioritized needs, key inputs from residents, and the partnership and funding landscape in the county.

Who Lives in Calhoun County?

The following data highlight some important demographic information about the people who live in Calhoun County:

Total Population 4,897

0% of the population live in urban areas

100% of the population live in rural areas

17.6% of the population live with a disability

Population in Poverty

Prioritized Needs

The CNA began with listening through a public survey, focus groups, and individual interviews, and with a review of existing or secondary data. To identify and prioritize the needs in each county, the CNA researchers gave each topic (or need) a score using all of the data collected. The scores were assigned using these criteria: how many people were impacted; how great the racial disparity was; and if the need was a root cause (main reason) for a condition or outcome. These scores were also driven by how community members responded to the topic through the survey, focus groups, and interviews. Using the scores given by the CNA researchers, United Way ranked the top half of each county’s needs.


Ranking Topic/Need Impact Area
1 Disaster Preparedness & Response Strengthen Communities
2 Jobs Financial Stability
3 Transportation Provide Food and Shelter
4 K-12 Education and Out-of-School Time Foster Learning
5 Community Building Strengthen Communities
6 Post-Secondary Education Foster Learning
7 Income Financial Stability
8 Built Environment Strengthen Communities
9* Financial Safety Net Financial Stability
9* Housing Security Provide Food and Shelter
11* Aging and Senior Support Strengthen Communities
11* Behavioral Health and Substance Abuse Improve Health
*scores were tied    

Community Engagement

The findings below highlight what was heard and learned from community members. The community engagement process included: gathering insight from residents on individual, family, and community needs through public surveys; perspective on community challenges and resources from local government and social services providers through focus groups; and in-depth accounts of individuals’ daily successes and challenges through one-on-one interviews. 

After CNA researchers identified the list of priority needs for each county, residents were given the opportunity to identify the needs they believed to be highest priority. Residents identified the following as the highest priority needs in Calhoun County:

  • Jobs (3/3)*
  • Housing Security (2/3)
  • Income (2/3)
  • Transportation (2/3)

*Number of community members who picked this topic / number of total community members who voted.

This community feedback was not used in the final needs prioritization because in many counties, the participant sample was not representative of the entire county. This is, however, important feedback to understand needs

Resident Words

“Safe and isolated. There are not a lot of amenities and you have to travel to get to places.”

“Nice, just not much revenue to improve things.”


A total of 40 responses for Calhoun County were recorded through primary research: 29 through the public survey; seven one-on-one interviews; and four social services and local government survey participants in place of a focus group. None of the survey or interview participants were people of color, and no demographic data was recorded for the supplemental social service and local government survey participants.

Key takeaways from survey, interview, and focus groups in this county:

  • Being small and rural has its benefits and challenges. Survey and interview participants commonly described Calhoun County as a small, quaint place where everyone knows everyone and is relatively safe. However, participants noted that the county also feels isolated from opportunities and resources. 
  • Many households had at least one expense unpaid or delayed in payment over the last year. For the 12 surveyed residents who noted missing payment on a bill in the last 12 months, six said they were late paying their medical or health insurance bills. 
  • A thriving community is what residents most commonly desire for the future of Calhoun County. Out of 32 survey and interview participants, 12 residents shared hopes for Calhoun County to be thriving, flourishing and prosperous in the future.


Funding Analysis

The funding map tracked government and philanthropic grants of $50,000 or more awarded in fiscal year 2017. Grants were recorded in the county the terminal grantee is located in, not the terminal grantee’s service area, which may underrepresent grant funding in Calhoun County.

In 2017, Calhoun County received a total of $820,000 in grant funding across 7 unique grants. These funds amounted to about 0.1% of total regional funding and a per capita investment of $167.

Community Partnerships


While Calhoun County does not have any community partnerships located in their county specifically, it is served by 43 regional partnerships.