St. Louis County, Missouri

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

Who Lives in St. Louis County?

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

Total Population 999,539

99% of the population live in urban areas

1% of the population live in rural areas

12% 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 Community Building Strengthen Communities
2 Built Environment Strengthen Communities
3* Justice System Strengthen Communities
3* Transportation Provide Food and Shelter
5 Housing Security Provide Food and Shelter
6 K-12 Education and Out-of-School Time Foster Learning
7 Jobs Financial Stability
8* Food Security Provide Food and Shelter
8* Safety Strengthen Communities
10 Services for Individuals with Disabilities Strengthen Communities
11 Child Welfare Foster Learning
12 Income Financial Stability

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 St. Louis County:

  • Services for Individuals with Disabilities (399/655)*
  • Safety (388/655)
  • Child Welfare (329/655)

*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

“We are a diverse community. We are diverse economically, religiously, and racially, which are all positive, but you can see the division within the community. We have lots of resources in the community or nearby, but you have to go out of your way to figure out what is what.”

A total of 1,649 responses for St. Louis County were recorded through the public survey, focus group and one-on-one interviews. For the public survey, 448 (27 percent) of the 1,636 participants were people of color. The one-on-one interviews included six individuals, four who were people of color and two who were youth younger than 18. No demographic data was recorded for the seven focus group participants.

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

  • St. Louis 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 participants shared were about household economics (354/1636 responses); physical, mental, and emotional health (300/1636 responses); and physical safety (249/1636 responses).
  • Access to quality services and resources is a challenge for those in need. Focus group and one-on-one interview participants similarly shared that gaining access to quality support services and resources in St. Louis County can be difficult, perhaps even more so depending on one’s race, economic class and where they live.
  • A safe community is what residents most commonly desire for the future of St. Louis County. The five most common hopes shared by survey and interview participants for the future of their community include a community that is safe (269/1642 responses), thriving (106/1642 responses), strong (80/1642 responses), inclusive (67/1642 responses), and diverse (51/1642 responses).

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

  • Like many St. Louis County residents, residents of color are most commonly concerned about economic stability and opportunities for themselves and their families. Concerns about money (127/442 responses) were followed by worries of safety (79/442 responses) and health (66/442 responses).
  • Most residents of color feel their basic needs are met. Compared to 71 percent of all surveyed white residents, 59 percent residents of color feel their basic needs are met. Stable housing is the most common basic need not being met for residents of color who participated in the public survey. 
  • Slightly more residents of color feel the communities they live in are declining. For residents who have lived in their same community for at least two years, 24 percent of people of color compared to 18 percent of white respondents feel their communities are getting worse.


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 over represent grant funding in St. Louis County.

In 2017, St. Louis County received a total of $780.8 million in grant funding across 991 unique grants. These funds amounted to 52.1 percent of total regional funding and a per capita investment of $781.

Community Partnerships


Thirty-five partnerships identified St. Louis County as a focal point and a number of additional regional partnerships also included the county.