Virginia Democrats looking to start winning again will hold their first ever summit next week as the party prepares for crucial elections this year and next.

The two-day event July 15-16 at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond is sponsored by the Democratic Party of Virginia, Organizing for America and the Virginia Young Democrats. It will include policy briefings on health care, education, national security, energy and the environment; a training session on how to develop and communicate a “powerful” message, run an effective local Democratic committee and recruit and retain political volunteers; and discussions about making the choice to run for office.

Democrats are hoping to turn around a party that has suffered at the polls the last two elections, unify multiple factions and work to hold onto the state Senate’s slim Democratic majority this year as well as U.S. Sen. Jim Webb’s seat in 2012.

“If we are going to elect Democrats in 2011 and 2012 we need to be sure that our candidates, campaign workers and grassroots activists have the best tools, skills and policy ideas available,’’ party chairman Brian Moran wrote in an email to supporters.