Madison County, Illinois

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

Who Lives in Madison County?

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

Total Population 266,153

87% of the population live in urban areas

13% of the population live in rural areas

13% 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 Jobs Financial Stability
2 Housing Security Provide Food and Shelter
3 Behavioral Health and Substance Abuse Improve Health
4 Child Welfare Foster Learning
5* Community Building Strengthen Communities
5* K-12 Education and Out-of-School Time Foster Learning
7 Justice System Strengthen Communities
8 Built Environment Strengthen Communities
9 Safety Strengthen Communities
10 Transportation Provide Food and Shelter
11 Income Financial Stability
12 Food Security Provide Food and Shelter
*scores were tied    

Community Engagement

The findings below represent community voice. The CNA 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; 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 (listed on the previous page), county residents were given the opportunity to identify the five needs they believed to be highest priority. Residents identified the following as highest priority needs:

  • Behavioral Health and Substance Abuse (74/113)*
  • Child Welfare (67/113)
  • Housing Security (64/113)

*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

“Downside—many businesses have closed their doors in the last three years. The economy of the city fluctuates drastically. Upside—a resurgence is struggling to emerge.”

“It’s a nice community but it is getting too expensive, especially housing. Also, it is growing too much and crime seems to be increasing also.”

“Great for straight white middle-class people. Tougher on folks of color and queer folks.”

A total of 489 responses for Madison County were recorded through the public survey, focus group and one-on-one interviews. For the public survey, 85 (18 percent) of the 475 participants were people of color. The one-on-one interviews included seven individuals, six who were people of color. No demographic data was recorded for the seven focus group participants.

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

  • Madison County residents are most commonly concerned about financial security now and as they age and retire. When survey participants were asked what they worry about most for their families, the most frequent concerns participants shared were about household economics (173/475 responses); declining health and access to care (112/475 responses); and safety in their community (76/475 responses).
  • Community supports for marginalized populations are few and challenging to access. Focus group and interview participants voiced that accessing social services and supportive resources is particularly difficult for immigrants and limited English language speakers. 
  • A safe community is what residents most commonly desire for the future of Madison County. The five most common hopes shared by survey and interview participants for the future of their community include a community that is safe (88/417 responses), thriving (36/417 responses), strong (24/417 responses), growing (22/417 responses), and healthy (17/417 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:

  • Similar to other Madison County residents, residents of color are most commonly concerned about their families’ economic stability. Concerns about money (25/85 responses) were followed by worries of health (11/85 responses) and safety (9/85 responses). 
  • Fewer than half of surveyed residents of color feel their basic needs are met. Compared to 67 percent of all surveyed white residents 47 percent of residents of color feel their basic needs are met. Stable housing (7/36 responses) is the most common basic need not being met for residents of color who participated in the public survey. 
  • A growing, thriving community is what residents of color most commonly desire for the future of Madison County. The most common hopes shared by survey and interview participants of color for the future of their community include one that is growing and thriving (13/74 responses) and united and inclusive (10/74 responses).


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 under represent grant funding in Madison County.

In 2017, Madison County received a total of $79.9 million in grant funding across 195 unique grants. These funds amounted to 5.3 percent of total regional funding and a per capita investment of $300.

Community Partnerships


partnerships identified Madison County as a focal point and a number of additional regional partnerships also included the county.