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University of Iowa News Release


Oct. 3, 2011

UI School of Social Work to hold Strengthening and Valuing Latino Communities conference

The Strengthening and Valuing Latino Communities conference, set for Oct. 28-29 in Muscatine, will feature a Latino youth leadership summit, training and networking opportunities for individuals who work with Latino families and communities, and art, music and dance to celebrate a variety of Latin cultures.

Now in its 13th year, the conference is co-sponsored by the University of Iowa School of Social Work in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to serve all segments of the state's Latino community: individuals, families, nascent groups and established organizations. The conference includes five events:

--A Latino Youth Leadership Summit on Friday, Oct. 28 at Muscatine High School will bring together 200 to 300 Latino high school students from across Iowa to attend workshops on higher education options, cultural identity, self-expression, immigrant rights, health and other topics. Workshops by Simon Estes and a keynote by Michael Benitez Jr. will also be offered. Teachers select students with leadership potential to attend.

--The Latino Institute for Professional Development, also Friday, Oct. 28 at Muscatine High School, will bring together 100 to 200 professionals who are interested in issues impacting Latino families and communities in Iowa. Educators, service providers, business owners, community developers and advocates will share information and strategies for developing Latino leadership and networks for the support of community development. Workshops will be offered in the areas of health, social justice, legal rights, faith and business.

--The Community Conference on Saturday, Oct. 29 at Muscatine High School will feature workshop opportunities along seven tracks: education, business, immigration, health, organizations, steps forward and arts/culture. It will include music and dance performances and local food to celebrate a variety of Latin cultures. Social justice educator and activist-scholar Michael Benitez, Jr., will present the keynote at 9 a.m.

--An Evening of Music and Dance at 6 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 29 at Central Middle School in Muscatine will feature Simon Estes, Juan Carlos Mendoza and a local youth choir. Performers also include contemporary dance company A Poc A Poc of Mexico, Ballet Folklórico Mexico Azteca of Minnesota and Massive Attack Hip Hop of Muscatine.

--New to the conference this year is a showcase of Iowa Latino artists in the Artlán gallery space above the Muscatine Center for Non-Profits at 129 W. 2nd St. The show will run Oct. 1-29.

A volunteer planning committee from the three state universities and from state and community agencies coordinates the conference. Primary sponsors for this year's events are Mobilizing Muscatine Excellence, Muscatine Center for Non-Profits, Muscatine High School and Muscatine Community College. More than 15 Iowa colleges have also signed on as sponsors and will provide high school students with a college fair.

Certificates of attendance for continuing education will be available. For more information or to register, contact the UI School of Social Work at 319-335-1273 or visit

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 370, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Jefri Palermo, School of Social Work, 319-335-3750,; Nicole Riehl, University News Services, 319-384-0070,