Centering Equity in Local Government: ‘One Fairfax’ Institutes a Broad Racial and Social Equity Policy

Washington, DC (January 22, 2019)—In November 2017, Fairfax County in Virginia passed a far-reaching policy known as ‘One Fairfax,’ requiring that the Board of Supervisors and School Board must “consider equity in decision-making and in the development and delivery of future policies, programs, and services.” The latest publication from the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP), One Fairfax: A Brief History of a County-Wide Plan to Advance Equity and Opportunity, tells the decade-long story of how a large, affluent suburb of the District of Columbia came to widely support a groundbreaking broad racial and social equity policy.

This groundbreaking intentional shift required the support and dedication of numerous stakeholders, including a committed team of government employees, outside institutions, and high-level government officials who championed the cause.

“Reflecting back, the adoption of the One Fairfax Resolution and Policy resulted from a multi-year process of learning and discovery,” said Karen Shaban, Strategic Project Manager, Fairfax County Government. “With CSSP as a partner using the Institutional Analysis as a tool, we revealed insights that weren’t readily visible to those of us working inside the organization. We are so appreciative of CSSP and the other critical thinking partners that helped us reach this important juncture but know that challenging, courageous work lies ahead if Fairfax County is to truly become One Fairfax.”

The Institutional Analysis (IA) provided a foundation for a conceptual shift in the county’s approach to racial and social equity. An IA gathers and analyzes information in a way that is designed to uncover the structural and institutional contributors to poor outcomes for children, youth, and families. Any agency or organization engaging in an IA is essentially “baring its soul” to better understand how it can improve.

 “The Fairfax leadership used the results of the IA process very purposefully to create a series of dialogues among county departmental directors, meeting with individual directors [from the various agencies] before arranging the series,” said Sarah Morrison, CSSP’s Director of Learning and Evidence. “Their collective commitment to better understanding and addressing the institutional contributors to racial inequity was key to the success of the IA and led to the adoption of the One Fairfax policy.”

Download One Fairfax here. For more information on the project, please email us at; to learn more about CSSP’s Institutional Analysis process, visit us online.

About CSSP. The Center for the Study of Social Policy is a national, non-profit policy organization that connects community action, public system reform, and policy change to create a fair and just society. We work to achieve a racially, economically, and socially just society in which all children and families thrive by translating ideas into action, promoting public policies grounded in equity, supporting strong and inclusive communities, and advocating with and for all children and families marginalized by public policies and institutional practices.