Monroe County, Illinois

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

Who Lives in Monroe County?

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

Total Population 33,739

59% of the population live in urban areas

41% of the population live in rural areas

9.8% 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 Access to Healthcare Improve Health
2 Income Financial Stability
3 Jobs Financial Stability
4 Community Building Strengthen Communities
5 Transportation Provide Food and Shelter
6 Aging and Senior Support Strengthen Communities
7* Behavioral Health and Substance Abuse Improve Health
7* Housing Security Provide Food and Shelter
7* Services for Individuals with Disabilities Strengthen Communities
10 Physical Health Improve Health
11 Food Security Provide Food and Shelter
12* Financial Safety Net Financial Stability
12* Post-Secondary Education Foster Learning
*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 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 Monroe County:

  • Behavioral Health and Substance Abuse (18/20)*
  • Services for Individuals with Disabilities (15/20)
  • Jobs (9/20)
  • Transportation (9/20)

*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

“Rural/agrarian mostly, but growing in [the St. Louis] region more encompassing than 3 years ago. Still with challenges, but mostly willing to do better.”

A total of 121 responses for Monroe County were recorded through the public survey, focus group and one-on-one interviews. For the public survey, two (2 percent) of the 104 participants were people of color. The one-on-one interviews included seven individuals, one who was a person of color. No demographic data was recorded for the ten focus group and supplemental social service and local government survey participants.

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

  • Monroe County residents are most commonly concerned about financial security for themselves and their families. When survey participants were asked what they worry about most, the most frequent concerns shared were about household economics (21/85 responses); physical, mental and emotional health (16/85 responses); securing affordable health insurance and healthcare (11/85 responses), and community safety (11/85 responses).
  • Access to supportive services is a persistent challenge in Monroe County. Focus group participants attributed physical barriers, such as a lack of sidewalks and few public transit options, as major hurdles for those with few economic resources and without their own transportation to getting the assistance they need.
  • A safe community is what residents most commonly desire for the future of Monroe County: The five most common hopes shared by survey and interview participants for the future of their community include one that is safe (28/58 responses), healthy (19/58 responses), thriving (14/58 responses), prosperous (11/58 responses), and growing (7/58 responses).

A total of three residents of color participated in the CNA engagement process through the public survey and one-on-one interviews. With such few responses, it is difficult to identify key themes, particularly when all questions were not answered by all participants.

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 Monroe County.

In 2017, Monroe County received a total of $3.5 million in grant funding across 19 unique grants. These funds amounted to 0.2 percent of total regional funding and a per capita investment of $104.

Community Partnerships


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