Jefferson County, Missouri

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

Who Lives in Jefferson County?

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

Total Population 222,639

70% of the population live in urban areas

30% of the population live in rural areas

12.7% 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.

RankingTopic/NeedImpact Area
1Community BuildingStrengthen Communities
2Housing SecurityProvide Food and Shelter
3Built EnvironmentStrengthen Communities
4TransportationProvide Food and Shelter
5Behavioral Health and Substance AbuseImprove Health
6JobsFinancial Stability
7Early Childhood EducationFoster Learning
8Child WelfareFoster Learning
9Justice SystemStrengthen Communities
10Access to HealthcareImprove Health
11IncomeFinancial Stability
12K-12 Education and Out-of-School TimeFoster Learning

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 partners reviewed all collected data to identify a 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 Jefferson County:

  • Behavioral Health and Substance Abuse (43/51)*
  • Child Welfare (36/51)
  • Access to Healthcare (31/51)

*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.

Resident Words

“Decent schools, variety of stores, but lack of decent, affordable housing for low income persons; insufficient transportation if you don’t have a car.”

“Overall a good community, but worried about growing opiate use and quality care for the aging population.”

A total of 182 responses for Jefferson County were recorded through the public survey, focus group, and one-on-one interviews. For the public survey, eight (5 percent) of the 167 participants were people of color. The one-on-one interviews included six individuals, one who was a person of color. No demographic data was recorded for the 9 focus group participants. 

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

  • Jefferson County residents are most commonly concerned about being able to financially provide for their families. When survey participants were asked what they worry about most for their families, the most frequent concerns participants shared were about daily household economics (37/167 responses); existing and potential health issues (23/167 responses); and safety (18/167 responses).
  • Resources seem to be concentrated in certain areas of Jefferson County. Focus group participants mostly agreed that “some parts of the county have everything; others have nothing.” Interview participants also noted that few quality, affordable resources are available within Jefferson County.
  • A community that is prosperous is what residents most commonly desire for the future of Jefferson County. The most common hopes shared by survey and interview participants for the future of their community include one that is prosperous and thriving (25/153 responses), supportive of individuals’ differences and needs (18/153 responses), safe (16/153 responses), and growing in population (13/153 responses).
Survey participants were not required to answer all questions, therefore response totals often vary by question

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

  • Discrimination and misunderstanding of differences was a concern for some residents of color. One worry was shared by four of the nine participants of color: They and their families being treated poorly due to perceived differences.
  • Family and friends are commonly who participants of color turn to in times of need. When selecting from online research, people they trust, local government, and social services organizations, six out of eight survey participants identified their own social connections as a source for help.
  • Some communities can be unwelcoming of outsiders and differences. When asked to describe their community, three out of six survey participants of color who provided an answer shared similar perspective for parts of Jefferson County.

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 Jefferson County. Click here to access Jefferson County grants data.

In 2017, Jefferson County received a total of $36.9 million in grant funding across 93 unique grants. These funds amounted to 2.5% of total regional funding and a per capita investment of $166.

Community Partnership


Fourteen partnerships identified Jefferson County as a focal point and a number of additional partnerships (mostly statewide) also included the county.