Riley And Pottawatomie County Community Needs Assessment

The Center for Applied Research and Evaluation (CARE) recently completed a nearly year-long process to conduct a community needs assessment for Riley and Pottawatomie Counties. The Flint Hills Wellness Coalition contracted with CARE to conduct the needs assessment. CARE conducted a similar assessment for Riley and Pottawatomie Counties in 2015. A total of 1,229 persons completed a survey regarding community needs in Riley County in 2019. Another 262 persons completed the survey for Pottawatomie County. In addition to the survey, CARE completed 25 interviews with community members in Riley County and also conducted three focus groups in Riley County and two focus groups in Pottawatomie County. The interviews and focus groups helped to gather deeper explanations and stories from community members regarding strengths, challenges, and needs. Overall, the findings indicate Riley and Pottawatomie Counties are growing, thriving communities with challenges related to access to medical and mental health care, affordable housing, living wage jobs, and resources for those with low incomes.

This assessment is valuable to Riley and Pottawatomie Counties because it provides necessary data for decisions at the governmental level, in human service agencies and education, and in other organizations and entities that can have an impact on quality of life and challenges in the community. Previously, the 2015 findings led Riley County to amend the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance to protect LGBTQ citizens in connection with housing, public accommodations, and employment. Additionally, based on concerns that emerged in the 2015 assessment regarding a lack of mental health resources, a Crisis Stabilization Center was opened in Manhattan in 2019. The Flint Hills Wellness Coalition is disseminating results from the assessment with the expectation that Riley and Pottawatomie Counties will continue to work toward addressing the needs residents identified. See the full reports for Riley and Pottawatomie Counties, interactive report for Riley County and Manhattan neighborhoods, and topic-related summaries for Riley County at the links below.