The Unified Prevention Coalition of Fairfax County (UPC) works collaboratively to prevent and/or reduce substance abuse and related risk factors in Fairfax County in ways that are measurable and that improve the well-being of youth, their families, and our communities.
The vision of the Unified Prevention Coalition of Fairfax County is a community where youth grow up safe and drug free.
Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) created school-community coalitions in 1984 under the administration of the FCPS Safe and Drug Free Schools office. In 2001, these coalitions formed an umbrella organization known as the Unified Coalition of Fairfax County Public Schools and received Drug Free Communities Support Program federal funding. Remaining under the administration of FCPS, each coalition independently supported prevention programs in their community (defined by the boundaries of their high school and feeder schools pyramid). Issues addressed by the school-community coalitions included parent education, wellness fairs, gangs, cyber bullying, underage drinking, and current drug trends including at that time ecstasy, club drugs, inhalants, and marijuana.
In August 2006, the Countywide Initiative to Reduce Underage Drinking (CIRUD) was formed by coalition leaders to address community concern with the high levels of alcohol use and binge drinking evidenced on the 2005 Fairfax Youth Survey. Drinking to get drunk and binge drinking by teens and young adults was recognized as a public health concern that was eroding the well-being of our entire community.
Given the impetus of CIRUD and significant changes in the federal Drug Free Communities (DFC) program, the Unified Coalition of FCPS was restructured as of October 2006 as the Unified Prevention Coalition (UPC) of FCPS functioning as a countywide organization. It was evident from the initial success of CIRUD that collaborative, countywide prevention efforts needed to be sustained and expanded. CIRUD became a major task force unit under the aegis of UPC. With over fifty partners, membership in UPC includes many of the original school-community coalitions as well as other key stakeholders in Fairfax County including Fairfax County Police Department (FCPD), Fairfax County Government agencies, FCPS, Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board (CSB), Fairfax County Council of PTAs FCCPTAs), National Counseling Group, Inova Trauma Unit, George Mason University, Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP), Parent Reaching Out to Educate Communities Together (P.R.O.T.E.C.T.), hospitals, businesses, courts, students and parents.
In summer 2011, UPC took the major step of becoming an incorporated non-profit organization based on its successful track record as a local, state, and nationally recognized coalition. With the support of FCPS, UPC became independent of the school system on September 30, 2011 and is known as the Unified Prevention Coalition of Fairfax County.
UPC under the direction of a new board of directors and officers will continue to expand the outstanding programs developed by CIRUD; implement recognized evidence-based strategies to address current youth trends in Fairfax County; and support the violence and drug prevention efforts of its partners. Its hallmark is its commitment to community collaboration.