The West Virginia University Division of Social Work will focus on building effective communities at its 9th annual fall conference Oct. 3-4 at the Days Inn in Flatwoods.

“Putting the Unity Back In Community: Recognizing and Rebuilding the Strengths in Our Own Backyards”is sponsored by the divisions Beatrice Ruth Burgess Center for West Virginia Families and Communities, the WVU Extension Service and the Governors Cabinet on Children and Families.

Twenty-five workshops and presentations will be offered along with general sessions and luncheon meetings. Featured speakers include Caroline Carpenter, program director from W. K. Kellogg Foundation, focusing on community development; and Si Kahn, executive director for Grassroots Leadership, Charlotte, N.C., speaking on community activism and organization.

Kahn, a long-time community activist, musician and author, will deliver the Oct. 3 keynote address,”Culture and Community: The Roots of Power,”and will perform a concert later that evening, which is open to the public for a nominal fee.

“The Funding Game: Playing by the Rules”is the general session topic for Oct. 4. Officials from four foundations will discuss ways to identify, request and receive funding.

“This years conference focuses on the resources and strengths found in communities across the state,”said Suzanne J. Leizear, M.S.W., director of continuing education in the Division of Social Work.”Topics covering community program planning, development and support from preliminary assessment to final evaluation will be presented.”

Issues important to West Virginia, such as health concerns, poverty and the aftermath of natural disasters, are included in the program. Information regarding federal, state and private funding will be covered as well as examples of innovative community projects, including faith-based initiatives.

Other presenters include WVU social work and extension faculty, agency representatives and organizational leaders.

“An educational and networking event focusing on community strengths and resources is extremely important in these uncertain economic times when there is also general concern about everyones welfare and safety,”said Virginia Majewski, Ph.D., WVU chair and professor of social work.”This conference supports the reality that our home communities are where we begin our lives and, many times, finish our lives. They are the first line of defense when seeking solutions and resources for needs and problems.”

Social workers can earn up to 14 continuing education credits by attending this conference. For more information and/or to register, go the conference brochure or call 304-293-3501, ext. 3103.

The Division of Social Work is one of three divisions of the WVU School of Applied Social Sciences, which is a unit of the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences. The division offers nationally-accredited bachelors and masters degrees in social work.