About SLO County


San Luis Obispo County Profile

San Luis Obispo County is located on California’s scenic central coast, bordered by Monterey, Kern and Santa Barbara Counties to the north, east and south (respectively). The population of the county numbers over 283,000, the majority of which lies within seven incorporated cities (Arroyo Grande, Atascadero, Grover Beach, Morro Bay, Paso Robles, Pismo Beach and San Luis Obispo). SLO County is more than 3,304 square miles in size, the vast majority of which is agricultural land or open space. The state is a large employer in the area (through a state university, hospital and detention center); other major industries include agriculture and tourism. Local attractions include Hearst Castle (the estate of newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst) and a growing wine region.

Though perhaps not immediately apparent to locals or tourists, like other communities, SLO County is not without problems or needs. According to the 2016 Vital Signs - Understanding San Luis Obispo County report published by ACTION for Healthy Communities, 12% of survey respondents reported that they went without some basic needs. The same survey indicates that California Assessment of Student Performance (CAASPP) scores of third graders show that only 50% of third-grade students scored proficient or above in the English-Language Arts subject area. When considering the health of adult residents, the report indicates that 55% of adults in SLO County were overweight or obese, as determined by body mass index (BMI) of 25 or greater.  The Central Coast Commission for Senior Citizens, Area Agency on Aging (AAA) also released a report, the 2018-2020 SLO Senior Resource Guide, outlining the needs of seniors in our community. 

While we live in a wonderful place, it is clear that there is still much we can do to make our community stronger and healthier. For 60 years United Way of SLO County has been working with local partners to do just that. Please help us continue our good work by giving, advocating or volunteering on behalf of an issue you are passionate about; for more information visit the links below.

San Luis Obispo County
City of Arroyo Grande
City of Atascadero
City of Grover Beach
City of Morro Bay
City of Paso Robles
City of Pismo Beach
City of San Luis Obispo
Open for Business in SLO
County Health Rankings

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ACTION for Health Communities

Since 1998, ACTION for Healthy Communities has been reporting on the quality of life in San Luis Obispo County, measured by indicators in seven key areas: basic needs, the economy, education, health, our natural environment, public safety and the social environment. The published reports help identify specific needs of the county’s most vulnerable populations and help guide the work of many local nonprofit organizations, including United Way. ACTION for Healthy Communities is a cooperative, collaborative effort of individual agencies and organizations, public and private, that are committed to improving the overall quality of life in SLO County. To view all of the reports, visit www.actionslo.org.

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Common Good Forecaster

United Way and Measure of America have created the Common Good Forecaster tool to forecast how things might change in our local community if education outcomes were better. Use this interactive map to explore the impact of education in our community. The Human Development Index was developed as an alternative to simple money metrics. It is an easy-to-understand measurement consisting of what many believe to be the basic ingredients of human well-being: health, education, and income.


A Portrait of California

A Portrait of California, a report by Measure of America, shows how Californians are doing in the areas of education, income and health -- the building blocks of a decent life, and the core focus of United Way's impact work. Researchers used the internationally-recognized Human Development Index (HD Index) to rank how Californians are doing against key benchmarks, broken out by demographic, geographic and other distinctions.

An alternative to the GDP as a measure of well-being, this report takes a dramatically different approach to assessing the state’s performance. Instead of relying on traditional economic analysis, Measure of America’s A Portrait of California uses the human development approach to tell us how people are doing. Three dimensions—a long and healthy life, access to knowledge, and a decent standard of living—are examined in detail and presented along with a simple ten-point scale: the American Human Development (HD) Index.

Once you've seen A Portrait of California, find out how you match up using The Well-O-Meter(TM). You can get a general sense of your own human development thanks to this tool by Measure of America.

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Nonprofit Economic Impact Study

Nonprofit corporations contribute to the quality of life for all SLO County residents in many visible and invisible ways. Though less tangible, the nonprofit sector is also an ever-evolving, widely diverse force generating significant economic benefit and stability for local residents. In 2005, United Way of SLO County partnered with PG&E and the UCSB Economic Forecast Project to bring the SLO County Nonprofit Economic Impact Study to life to show the local government, businesses, individuals and even nonprofits just how large a force it is. The resulting report documents the contributions of local nonprofit public benefit corporations to the economic health and social well-being of SLO County citizens through employment, revenue generation, purchasing power, service provision and volunteer engagement. Click here to view the full report: Economic Impact of Nonprofit Corporations: San Luis Obispo County, California 2005.

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Healthy City

Healthy City is California's information and action resource for service referrals and social change. HealthyCity.org provides data and mapping tools to help you build a better community. The Healthy City team also partners directly with organizations to develop research strategies and web tools that fuel social change.

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