Several years ago, government, business, education and nonprofit leaders in Fairfax and Loudoun Counties were searching for ways to create a central community resource to help address societal issues.  The parallel efforts within each jurisdiction ultimately merged to form the Connect Northern Virginia Leadership Team. The team chose a community platform model, developed at the Urban Institute, as the initial foundation for the Connect Northern Virginia portal that was launched in September 2013.

This work began in 2010 when the George Mason University’s Center for Nonprofit Management, Philanthropy and Policy, conducted research about opportunities to strengthen nonprofit capacity building and to expand public private collaboration to meet human services needs in the county. Area Chambers of Commerce, Leadership Fairfax, United Way of the National Capital Region, Volunteer Fairfax and George Mason University then participated in a dialogue about Corporate Social Responsibility and identified a need for a single place to find out about community priorities and the nonprofits that meet them.

Fairfax County Office of Public-Private Partnerships engaged a Capstone team of GMU Applied Information Technology students to develop stakeholder requirements, explore existing alternative and make recommendations for Fairfax County to consider. The team recommended the Community Platform which was expanded to include the entire Northern Virginia region.

The GMU Center for Nonprofit Management, Philanthropy and Policy, Volunteer Fairfax, and the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia agreed to work together with the Urban Institute to develop and launch a community portal. Loudoun Cares joined the leadership to form a broad Northern Virginia collaborative.

The Connect Northern Virginia project team held work sessions around the region to gather input from nonprofit, business, government and other community leaders about significant community issues and resources. This important input helped in the development of the initial content of the website. The original Connect Northern Virginia site was launched on September 10, 2013.

The site has had over 35,000 visits since it first launched in September 2013. It currently has more than 765 registered users, who have the ability to interact and post information on the website.

In late 2015, redesign of Connect Northern Virginia began to meet the growing needs of its users, focusing primarily on Fairfax and Loudoun County. This redesign was based on valuable feedback from every audience it serves. The new site was launched in fall 2016.