UPC traces its history to 1984, when the Fairfax County Public Schools created school-community coalitions 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 County 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.

Based on its successful track record as a local, state, and nationally recognized coalition, UPC became an incorporated non-profit organization on September 30, 2011.