Lincoln County, Missouri

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

Who Lives in Lincoln County?

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

Total Population 54,800

25% of the population live in urban areas

75% of the population live in rural areas

15.8% of the population live with a disability

Population in Poverty

Prioritized Needs

The Community Needs Assessment (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 Child Welfare Foster Learning
2 Justice System Strengthen Communities
3 Access to Healthcare Improve Health
4 Behavioral health and Substance Abuse Improve health
5 Transportation Provide Food and Shelter
6 K-12 Education and Out-of-School Time Foster Learning
7 Income Financial Stability
8 Housing Security Provide Food and Shelter
9 Jobs Financial Stability
10 Post-Secondary Education Foster Learning
11 Safety Strengthen Communities
12 Food Security Provide Food and Shelter

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 highest the priority needs in Lincoln County:

  • Behavioral Health and Substance Abuse (15/23)*
  • Child Welfare (14/23)
  • Housing Security (11/23)
  • Income (11/23)
  • Jobs (11/23)

*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

“What was once a rural community is no longer. The County is growing tremendously. There are terrific parks, accessible retail establishments and outstanding, accredited schools. Still, there is a need for access to care and transportation.”

“Lack of investment in community resources, and commitment to reducing barriers to accessing existing resources.”

A total of 115 responses for Lincoln County were recorded through the public survey, focus group, and one-on-one interviews. For the public survey, four (4 percent) of the 103 participants were people of color. The one-on-one interviews included six individuals, all of whom were people of color. No demographic data was recorded for the six focus group participants.

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

  • In hard times, residents are more likely to turn to their social network for support and resources. As opposed to asking an expert in the community or searching online, 30 of 69 surveyed residents prefer to ask their family, friends, and neighbors for help. Simalarly, focus group participants shared that awareness of and access to services within Lincoln County are limited.
  • Many households had at least one expense unpaid or delayed in payment over the last year. Of the 37 surveyed residents who noted missing payment on a bill in the last 12 months, 24 said they were late paying their gas and/or electric bills. 
  • Lincoln County communities are nice, rural towns that are experiencing change. Surveyed residents commonly described their communities as quiet, close-knit, and small communities that are becoming more urbanized. With growth, survey participants noted the need for more supportive services located in their communities, particularly to address drug use.
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 is the most common concern shared by participants of color. Of the ten residents of color who participated in either the survey or interviews, five identified being worried about acceptance, fair treatment, and access to services and opportunities because of their race and ethnic makeup. 
  • For Lincoln County’s future, participants of color most commonly desire a supportive community. Survey and interview participants of color most often wished for a community that supports a diverse set of needs and lifestyles.


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 Lincoln County.

In 2017, Lincoln County received a total of $11.5 million in grant funding across 39 unique grants. These funds amounted to 0.8 percent of total regional funding and a per capita investment of $212.

Community Partnership


Five partnerships identified Lincoln County as a focal point, and a number of additional regional partnerships also included the county