The Maine Commission for Community Service began operating at a time when understanding of the links between volunteering or civic engagement and community or economic development were increasing.
The history of the Commission reflects a commitment to using the grant programs available in the context of a thoughtful strategic plan to foster service that strengthens communities.
Each year, as directed by law, the Commission submits a report of its activities and accomplishments to its legislative oversight committee (the Joint Standing Committee on State and Local Government) and the Governor. Below are highlights from those reports. The full text of Commission annual reports dating back to 1997 are under Publications.
- Due to special off-cycle AmeriCorps competitions, the Commission added two new AmeriCorps programs to its portfolio. In Bangor, the AmeriCorps program was operated by a collaborative that seeks to move people out of poverty and into self-sufficiency. The School Turnaround program, LearningWorks AIMS HIGH, works solely with schools that are implementing their improvement plans.
- The volunteer center development activity funded by the Volunteer Generation Fund completed year 3, the final year of the grant. 174 local programs received technical assistance and 460 staff of volunteer programs were trained by the grantees supported under VGF.
- The Commission partnered with Youth Service America to bring Global Youth Service Day to Maine. In April, 991 youth conducted 29 service projects across the state.
- Year two of the Maine VISTA project was managed by the Commission. 27 Maine non-profits hosted AmeriCorps VISTAs who helped them build capacity, sustainability, and develop new strategies to tackle community needs.
- The Professional Development Fund awarded support to managers of volunteers pursuing training or professional development. The awards were partial funding of registration fees or tuition and ranged from $250 to $1,155.
- The annual statewide conference on service and volunteerism featured the newly published research on the link between levels of volunteering and community resiliency in the face of stressors such as recession, natural disasters, or loss of major employers.
- The impact of National Service in Maine was the focus of a publication distributed to local, regional, state, and federal elected officials. Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Volunteer Generation Fund results were reported along with the listing of over 600 Maine agencies benefiting from the efforts of people serving in these programs.
- The Commission wrapped up four 3-year grant awards including, Island Fellows Program, Community Resource Corps, Maine Conservation Corps, and Teen Leadership & Career Corps. The total number of AmeriCorps Members working on these grants was 175.
- The Commission added four 3-year grants awards to the following, Island Institute for $130,000, RSU #14/Real School for $129,152, Good Will Industries Northern New England for $260,000, and FoodCorps for $130,000.
- Time Warner Cable contributed $7,000 to support service-learning grants. The remaining $81,000 that was awarded was provided by the Corporation for National & Community Service.
> Three Maine school districts were granted funds for service-learning; MSAD 17, Sanford School Department, and RSU 34.
- Eight organizations from various parts of Maine were awarded grants through the Volunteer Generation Fund for a total of $161,821.
> Through VGF 56 peer networking meetings were held during the year with 405 managers of volunteers participating in these meetings.
> VolunteerMaine.org’s recruitment tool was used by 2,151 citizens inquiring about posted volunteer opportunities.
- The Blaine House Conference on Service and Volunteerism attracted 298 people. Nearly 50% of these attendees reported having less than 8 hours of training related to volunteer management.
- The Commission managed placement, training, supervision, and impact reporting for 34 AmeriCorps VISTA members – the largest cohort in Maine. 22 municipal, county and nonprofit agencies hosted VISTA members.
- Eight organizations were awarded $500 mini grants for Martin Luther King Day of Service projects. These projects were held in 31 locations around Maine and just over 1,700 residents attended. Projects included: nutrition, screening and exercise events, construction of insulating windows, and community drives to replenish clothing and food banks.
- Global Youth Service Day was introduced in Maine. Over 900 youth volunteers completed projects including, construction of community gardens, emergency preparedness training, improving public lands, and cleaning community parks.
- Seven awards were given at the Governor’s Awards for Service and Volunteerism in April. 520 people were added to the Roll of Honor, these people volunteered at least 500 hours during 12 months.
- The Commission added twelve grantees through Learn and Serve, AmeriCorps*State, and Volunteer Generation funds awarded to Maine by CNCS. This brought the total number of grantees to 18.
- Time Warner Cable contributed $30,000 to support service-learning grants. The remaining $42,000 was from the Corporation for National and Community Service.
- Through the Volunteer Generation Fund, the Commission awarded grants totalling $197,786 to develop new volunteer centers in four regions of the state where none exist and increase capacity in the existing two volunteer centers. Additionally, the VGF grants supported development of six regional peer networks for managers of volunteers.
> Community issues targeted by volunteer centers were energy, education, health
> The centers engaged 8,479 new volunteers in service related to these issues
- AmeriCorps Technical Assistance meetings kept a monthly schedule and 67% of the AmeriCorps staff as well as 22% of VISTA staff attended. These meetings routinely covered compliance issues and federal updates but also included training on program evaluation and the new web platform for project management and reporting.
- National Service Staff Council convened quarterly and brought together AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and Volunteer Generation grantees. It’s purpose is to facilitate cross program training, closer coordination of activities in communities (especially where multiple grantees are working on similar issues), and planning for statewide activities involving all the programs.
- Maine VolunteerFare subscribers grew 214% to 6,408. VolunteerFare is the electronic newsletter for managers of volunteers that is published by the Commission.
- VolunteerMaine Webinar Series reached 97 professionals. Of the 12 webinars held, seven were conducted by professionals volunteering their time. Overall, the webinars were rated 3.6 out of a possible 4 on quality of content and 3.4 out of 4 on degree to which the webinar furthered the participants’ professional development.
- The Professional Development Fund cost-shared educational activities related to increased profi ciency in service-learning or managing volunteers. Funds were awarded to staff from AmeriCorps, Learn & Serve, Senior Corps, and community managers of volunteers. Activities supported ranged from a 20 hour course on facilitation to completing requirements for the national certifi cation exam, Certifi ed Volunteer Administrator.
- MCCS continued as co-chair of the Donations Coordination Team with Maine Emergency Managment Agency. The Commission is responsible for operating Volunteer Reception Centers (virtual or physical) during declared disasters.
> MCCS conducted three trainings on operation of Volunteer Reception Centers. Each resulted in a team of people who can operate a VRC.
> One team of 15 played a key role in the Mass Rescue/Casualty Exercise conducted by by the U.S. Coast Guard, the Town of Bar Harbor, Hancock County, and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines.. The VRC processed 89 volunteer “victims” in an hour and, at the end of the day, had one of the highest accountability ratings.
- MCCS marked 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance by participating in the I Will “pledge of service” drive conceived by MyGoodDeed.org, the foundation started by 9.11 families.
> 27 Maine partners distributed 8,000 pledge cards at 163 events over that weekend.
> Nearly 200 volunteers pledged 9,628 hours of service to neigbors and community agencies.
- VolunteerMaine.org continued to be an essential one-stop portal for people seeking volunteer opportunities and programs seeking volunteers or technical assistance. The site had 291,529 visitors in 2011.
- Under an agreement with the Corporation for National and Community Service, MCCS began managing placement, training, supervision, and impact reporting for the largest cohort of AmeriCorps*VISTA members in Maine.
>34 AmeriCorps*VISTA members serve in assignments focused on one of four community issues: health, education, services to veterans and military families, financial literacy.
- As part of a government reorganization and streamlining initiative, the Commission along with other parts of the State Planning Office participated in a six-month process that determined the future of SPO functions. The year closed with a report to the legislature by the governor's task force that recommended the State Planning Office be eliminated and, among other things, the Commission for Community Service be assigned a new fiscal agent.
- As of July, MCCS assumed responsibility for managing service-learning federal grant funds from theCorporation for National and Community Service.The number of grants doubled with support from Time Warner Cable.
- Implementation of new elements of the federalServe America Act opened up opportunities for supporting Maine’s volunteer sector and expanded MCCS program development responsibilities to include Senior Corps as well as AmeriCorps.
- Federal “recovery” funds for VISTA and AmeriCorps*State programs resulted in a brief but significant expansion of AmeriCorps work in Maine communities.
> AmeriCorps*State grant administration: $1.1 million from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) to support 180 member positions with education awards. 100% was passed through to grantees.
> MCCS recruited and placed 28 AmeriCorps*VISTAs in 23 organizations across the state.
- MCCS undertook development of a new three-year strategic plan which built off the accomplishments of the 2006-2009 plan and responded to new realities. It was adopted in June.
- Commissioners voted to focus 2011-2013 grantmaking on three areas that impact citizens’ ability to work, thrive, and engage in community life:
> Health, particularly levels of physical activity and diabetes prevention;
> High school completion and enrollment in a post-secondary educational program; and
> Strengthening local volunteer programs so they can increase their ability to address local problems.
- Maine successfully competed for Volunteer Generation funds and received $300,000. MCCS anticipates
granting $198,000 to establish and support regional volunteer centers and peer networks for managers of
volunteers. $10,000 will support training and scholarships for professional development of managers of
volunteers. In addition, $7,800 will be set aside for statewide promotion of volunteerism.
- In its 24th year, the Blaine House Conference on Service and Volunteerism had 291 participants. Conference
participants gave high marks to the value of content for both their program and their agencies (3.45 score out of 4).
- MCCS received $49,970 in grant funds to support the Maine HEARTH Program. This program coordinated planning and networking around community heating needs and increased the visibility of heating assistance sources. It supported the formation and increased the capacity of existing local response teams in 12 counties.
- In 2010, the results from six years of AmeriCorps member exit surveys were analyzed, to look at the profile of members who come to Maine from out of state. The results showed AmeriCorps is not just a means of supporting communities in Maine through significant and essential service; but it also attracts highly educated individuals from out of state and encourages them to stay.
• 41% of the non-residents stayed in Maine after their year of service.
• 67% of non-residents have at least a four year degree.
• 52% of all AmeriCorps members take on volunteer work during their year of service (unrelated to AmeriCorps assignment).
- The Commission maintained VolunteerMaine.org as the state-wide resource for volunteerism.
• VolunteerMaine.org had 54,416 unique visitors to its homepage in 2010.
• The site had 129,352 visitors to the blog.
• There were 63,400 visitors who viewed the VolunteerFare newsletter page.
• VolunteerMaine.org's partner homepages had 45,982 unique visitors where users could search for volunteer opportunities.
• The resource section of the site was visited 10,853 times.
- In its 22nd year, the Blaine House Conference on Volunteerism had a record breaking 310 registrants, a 43% increase over 2008, and focused on current and applicable best practices for Maine’s volunteers and managers of volunteers. Conference participants gave high marks to the value of content.
- With the Hands on Network grant obtained in 2008 the Commission identified and partnered with nine organizations to serve 10 counties with regards to local planning and networking around community heating needs and to increase visibility of sources of heating assistance. 183 faith-based and non-profit organizations, government agencies and businesses participated in regional or county-wide networks. 333 volunteers served 2,320 hours. 153 were first-time volunteers.
- With the remaining INVEST (Increased Nonprofit Volunteer Education & Skill Training) funds the Commission partnered with State Community Colleges and Universities to create courses on volunteer management. Two courses will be offered in the summer of 2010.
- The Commission partnered with Time Warner Cable to encourage an ethic of service in Maine through public service announcements and numerous other outreach initiatives. Time Warner also underwrote 5 service-learning grant awards to schools and community organizations.
- Visitors to the VolunteerMaine.org homepage doubled in 2009 to 350,000.
- The VolunteerMaine VISTA project received additional resources through the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act. The project grew from eleven to forty-one AmeriCorps*VISTA positions and expanded into three focus areas under the main goal of creating volunteer centers without walls throughout Maine. VISTA Members provided 22 trainings on essential volunteer management practices, devoted 662 hours support Peer- to-Peer Networks or COADs and spent 310 hours supporting agencies use of VolunteerMaine.org.
- Secured a Hands on Network grant to support the formation of new, and build capacity of, existing local response teams that help citizens throughout the cold months. The grant also coordinates planning and networking around community heating needs and increases visibility of sources of heating assistance while recruiting new volunteers.
- The online presentation of the Competencies for Managers of Volunteers went live on VolunteerMaine.org expanding the audience nationwide. The Competencies received 4,368 visitors between September and December.
- The VolunteerMaine.org Blog was launched in 2008 and now has an average of 11,337 visits per month.
- Agency referrals on VolunteerMaine.org (number of interested volunteers referred to agencies) increased by 328%.
- Sponsored a Leadership Institute in Volunteer Management collaboratively with the Center for Community Inclusion and Disability Studies and University of Maine Cooperative Extension. The Institute brought together 22 experienced volunteer managers to develop skills in training and advanced volunteer management.
- Secured federal dollars to support development of two model County Organizations Active in Disaster (COADs). Also secured expert technical assistance for this effort through Project TADS (Technical Assistance in Disaster Services), a resource funded by the Corporation for National and Community Service.
- Obtained federal AmeriCorps*VISTA support to develop peer to peer networks of volunteer managers, conduct outreach and education on VolunteerMaine.org, and increase online training resources for staff of volunteer programs.
- MCCS successfully competed for one of four federal grants awarded by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) that aim to stem the tide of volunteer attrition by strengthening the management of volunteer programs. Over the course of two years, Project INVEST (Increased Nonprofit Volunteer Education & Skill Training) will address the need for accessible volunteer management training in a variety of formats across Maine.
- For the third year in the row, the Commission was the driving force in creating networks and leaderships teams that made Operation KeepMeWarm possible. The service project was sponsored by Maine State Housing, the Governor's Office on Energy Independence, and Efficiency Maine. In 2006, over 1,257 homes were winterized by more than 1,360 volunteers.
- Exploring the importance of volunteers to a state and its government, MCCS collaborated with federal and provincial Canadian leaders for a one day service symposium. Voluntary Sector policy makers from Canada and Maine met to discuss the sector and its impact on leveraging state and local resources.
- MCCS supported eight King Day of Service projects across the state with mini-grants. Funded service projects allowed participants to impact their communities while celebrating Dr. King and his commitment to service
- The Commission celebrated its tenth anniversary. The Commission spent its anniversary year providing opportunities for people to volunteer or reflect on their volunteer experiences.
- In its second year, Operation KeepMEwarm once again reached out and mobilized 1,600 volunteers who winterized the homes of over 2,600 of Maine’s most vulnerable citizens.
- Relaunched VolunteerMaine.org with the added a statewide searchable feature that let volunteer programs list openings that citizens can search using zip code or key words. The educational resources and other features were enhanced.
- The Commission and Maine Emergency Management Agency partnered to establish local Citizen Corps Councils and
- foster increased hometown prevention, mitigation, preparation, response, and recovery related to largescale emergencies.
- Coordinated the Tri-State Conference. This five-year collaboration between the State Service Commissions of ME, NH, VT and the CNCS State Office provides advanced, in-depth training to grantee staff and sponsor agencies in all three states.
- Organized a Disability Advisory Committee that linked representatives of the disability community and AmeriCorps program directors to increase inclusion in volunteer programs of citizens with disabilities.
- The Commission joined core planners of Governor Baldacci’s summit on youth migration. MCCS helped recruit nearly 70 volunteer planners who contributed time, talent, and expertise to designing the summit, participating in the research, and event promotion. The summit was attended by 300 young adults and featured the first “virtual summit” as a companion to discussions.
- Participated on the Maine Homeland Security Task Force’s Objective IV Team and its subcommittee on roles and responsibilities. MCCS provided insight to including National Service and local volunteers in the state’s disaster preparedness plan.
- The Maine Citizens Corps Council was formed under the auspices of the Maine Commission for Community Service. The 17 member council and two support staff worked towards ensuring Maine communities are safe, healthy, and secure. Citizen Corps was able to receive a three year grant of $500,000 from CNCS to develop Citizen Corps Councils in Maine and address homeland security and emergency preparedness needs through the use of a 21 member AmeriCorps*VISTA team.
- Managed the Governors’ Points of Light Award, a program that recognizes exemplary youth service each month. The award not only to highlighted the significant contributions of youth volunteers to their communities but, also, to provided inspiration to other youth.
- Recognizing that volunteer service is often a means of exploring career options and gaining experience that can be transferred to employment settings, MCCS began serving on the Maine Jobs Council, School-to-Work Committee.
- MCCS successfully competed for an $5,000 grant from CNCS to support King Day of Service community projects. A statewide bank provided a generous cash donation and WGME 13 developed a PSA campaign tying volunteer service to the celebration of Dr. King’s life. Seventeen community-based organizations and schools were funded.
- MCCS focused its planning and convening activities on youth volunteer service. The question posed to 87 youth and 22 adults during two public sessions was “What needs to happen in order for your community to become a place where every 5-24 year old person can serve/volunteer?” Their answers were:
- -- Communities must create places or programs that connect youth with opportunities to serve.
- -- Community service and volunteer work must connect youth to people and places outside school.
- -- Service by youth must be an expectation of the community and allow youth to have an equal voice and role in planning as well as implementing volunteer projects or services.
- Commissioned two evaluations of AmeriCorps programs in Maine. The first, “Achieving Mission,” examined selected aspects of the dispersed site model for AmeriCorps. The second, "AmeriCorps, A Successful Social Investment Strategy," looked at two factors: whether Maine programs had demonstrated an ability to leverage additional resources; and, whether they demonstrated an ability to develop of local community capacity to sustain activities.
1999 and 2000
- From 1997 - 1999, MCCS staffed the Maine Promise Network, Maine's link between America's Promise and the state Communities for Children. Early in 2000, the Network was absorbed into Maine's Promise, a public/private partnership charged with fulfilling Maine's responsibilities as a Model State for America's Promise.
- MCCS became a member of Maine's Promise and accepted responsibility for ensuring Maine youth have opportunities to give back through service.
- MCCS launched the Maine Service Exchange. This is a network of volunteer trainers and consultants who helped local volunteer and nonprofit groups with their work. It operated through a web platform that overcame geographic issues and accessibility.
- At the request of the Governor's Office, MCCS has served as fiscal agent for the Mentoring Partnership and helped locate a consultant who could guide the project through the steps of becoming a Maine nonprofit. The founders of the Partnership first met during the Governor's Institute on Mentoring, a conference sponsored by MCCS.
- Sixty-nine Maine High School Seniors received $1,000 Scholarships for outstanding community service through the National Service Scholars Program. The opportunity to recognize this aspect of student life was possible due to a partnership between the Corporation for National Service (CNS), the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME), and MCCS.
- MCCS received a challenge grant from the Ford Foundation. The grant’s purpose was to build capacity of local organizations in volunteer management and fundraising.
- Through its participation on the Implementation Team for Communities for Children, MCCS identified several sources of National Service help for Local Leadership Councils. MCCS targeted some of its AmeriCorps grant funds towards development of resources local councils had sought.
- MCCS responded to Governor King's request to conduct seven Service Institutes as part of Maine's followup to the America's Promise Summit. Over the course of six months and with the help of 104 volunteers, the Institutes provided training and information to 1,100 people.
- Over 120 Maine AmeriCorps Members provided immediate and sustained response to the 1998 Ice Storm disaster relief efforts.
- The Maine Commission obtained the state's first community-based Learn & Serve K-12 award ($148,000). Known as Project Bond, it involves youth who have left school or are at-risk of leaving, in service-learning activities that are integrated into academic achievement.
- Completed two assessments of volunteer involvement in government services. One examined municipal government volunteer programs. The second assessed the types and prevalence of volunteer programs under state agencies' sponsorship.
- Sponsored a workshop on engaging disabled citizens in community service.
- Accepted an invitation from the Children's Cabinet to help develop and support implementation of key Cabinet projects. Commission staff helped secure a VISTA to assist the Cabinet.
- Successfully competed at the federal level for a special Governors' Innovative Grant. Known as the Blaine House Service Corps, the project addresses issues of restorative justice options for first-time juvenile offenders and supportive housing for people with disabilities.