At a recent meeting the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a request from the Office of the County Executive, One Fairfax to apply and accept grant funding to participate in a program called the Upward Mobility Cohort. 

The Upward Mobility Cohort is a program courtesy of The Urban Institute, a Washington D.C. based think tank that carries out social and economic policy research. Fairfax hopes to be one of eight counties selected for this program which seeks to develop a set of evidence-based metrics for the development of the Mobility Action Plan.

The Mobility Action Plan will include metrics in such areas as education, health, housing, safety, and work. These metrics are designed to inform priorities, set targets, increase action, change policies and practices the County expects to help them monitor the progress of advancing upward mobility over time. 

The three main areas that the Mobility Action Plan should focus on according to the Institute’s website are a commitment to upward mobility and racial equity, to effectively engage with the community to create a strong set of partnerships and mechanisms for community engagement and time commitment from county staff to understand data systems and to be able to interpret and apply data to the planning and decision making process.

Fairfax County has applied for a grant in the amount of $125,000 which will be provided by The Urban Institute and backed by the Seattle-based Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The County hopes to receive the requested amount in a lump sum but are allowed to continue to apply for the funding until they receive the full amount.

In addition to the funding, the County will also receive technical support for the program which over the course of 18 months. This support will include data analysis, help with engagement between local leaders and experts to help develop the plan, advising on policy and programming, as well as other trainings and workshops.

The 18-month period will begin on Jan. 2021 and end in June 2022 after which the participating counties will be expected to implement the plans developed through the program.

Fairfax County had received notice by The Urban Institute on Nov. 2 that they had been chosen as a finalist for the Upward Mobility Cohort. The County Executive had already been submitted before the board’s approval due to the application’s deadline had been set for Nov. 24.

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