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Commission Minutes

March 16, 2012

In Attendance:  Mary-Anne LaMarre, F. Celeste Branham, Casey Bromberg, Debra Eckart, Susan Hammond, Marcia Hartt, Ron Holmes, Kristie Littlefield, Joan McDonald, Andrew McLean, Lindsey Jean Oliver, John Portela, Eileen Smart, and Barbara Wentworth Lindsey Jean Oliver, and John Portela

Via conference phone:   Susan Austin

Staff Present:  Maryalice Crofton, Pam Zeutenhorst, Michael Ashmore, Meredith Eaton, and Aline Lachance

Guests:  Sara Knowles, Maine Conservation Corps, Jen Craven of Goodwill of Northern New England (NNE), and Joely Ross of Goodwill Industries of NNE 

Public Comments  None.

Quiz  Only one person answered correctly, Barbara Wentworth. 

Announcements
-          National Service Day at the Capitol was February 23rd
-          A copy of the 2011 Maine National Service Impact "The Public Return on Investment" Report was distributed to Commission members and to Legislators
-          Casey Bromberg worked in the Legislature and she help distribute copies of the report; it was a successful day 
-          This week,  March 10-18, is AmeriCorps Week
-          There has been a lot of activity focused on AmeriCorps member experience. So far, daily posts on social media, member produced video is posted to Youtube, and several letters to the editor as well as an editorial by a member.
-          The 2012 AmeriCorps Member Conference is March 27th at Thomas College in Waterville. Commissioners are welcome. The keynote is first and Meredith Jones, a former VISTA and current President/CEO of Maine Community Foundation will speak.

Additions or Deletions to Agenda 
Transition update added. While there were no other additions or deletions, by Noon time, due to the length of the Commission meeting, members asked that the Strategic Plan Work Session be carried over to next month's Commission meeting.  

Commission Minutes
Maryalice reminded members that there were no Commission meetings in January or February and therefore no minutes.

Executive Committee (LaMarre) 
A motion was made by Barbara Wentworth and seconded by Joan McDonald to accept the January 13, 2012 Minutes of the Executive Committee.  Vote was unanimous.

A motion was made by John Portela and seconded by Ron Holmes to accept the March 2, 2012 Minutes of the Executive Committee.  Vote was unanimous.

Grants (McDonald)
Task Force members reviewed applications from National Directs that propose to operate in Maine.  MCCS developed a policy on how to rate these.  If proposals on the list from CNCS comply with the law and consult with the Commission before submitting their applications, they will get either a "Support" or "Neutral" rating.  "Support" indicates the applicant proposes to address an issue that aligns with the Commission's funding priorities.  Applicants on the list that have not consulted the Commission prior to submitting a proposal receive a "Do Not Support" rating.

The following applicants received "Support:" 
-          The College of New Jersey, National Bonner AmeriCorps Program
-          Goodwill Industries of Northern New England; Great Strides Rural Education Corps

The policy and list were posted online with task force minutes.

Students In Service, a National Direct AmeriCorps program with 30 members in Maine, was closed down nationally. The issues related to serious non-compliance with regulations. The program design subgranted members to state affiliates who placed them with affiliates in their networks. The host sites were not trained on regulations and undertook activities that were prohibited. There were other problems as well.

Organizations in Maine that lost out can form a coalition and apply to the Commission under the grant competition that is now open.

Peer reviewers are needed. Request was made that new Commissioners not assigned to grants serve. There are four types of grants to review. Generally handle 5 applications per type. On the financial reviews, Commissioners work from a summary prepared by staff and have the original materials for reference (audit, IRS statements, etc).

States have learned that Fixed Price grants can be issued as part of Formula competitions. This grant type had been restricted to a set of states involved in a pilot program. The Maine Commission will issue a call for proposals for Fixed Price grants that will be in addition to the three RFPs currently out (cost reimbursement, education award, and planning).

The Fixed Price model only allows 1700 hour AmeriCorps Members and reimburses the grantee $13,000 per member who completes service. The model was new under the Serve America Act and intended for rural states. Grantees in this category do not have to track or report the local resources used to operate the program.

Public Information and Education (McLean)

Federal.  Andrew distributed a sample letter for Commission member to use as a template to send to their Congressional representative regarding the impact of decreasing funds to the Corporation for National & Community Service for FYT 2012.  Instead, it was felt that 1 single letter signed by all commission members would be best. Commissioners present indicated their desire to have their signatures on the letter. Maryalice was asked to poll those absent and then compile the letter asking that funds be reinstated.

A motion was made by John Portelo and seconded by Ron Holmes in favor of a single letter to Maine Congressional Delegation.  Vote was unanimous.

Transition update.  Commissioner Bowen had a change in schedule and is unable to meet with the Board today. Staff directed to invite him to attend the April meeting.

MCCS staff met with Dept of Ed Chief of Staff Val Seaberg the last week of February. No physical space for MCCS office has been identified but move is projected for mid-May.

MCCS staff asked to invite the new State Planning Office Director, Pete Rogers, to meet with Commission at April meeting.

Second Supplemental Budget.   Part LL is the section pertaining to MCCS. It transfers the State Planning Office's duties and responsibilities regarding the provision of administrative support for the Maine Commission for Community Service to the Department of Education.

Hearing on education section is scheduled for Wednesday, March 21st, at 3:00 p.m. Commission members can attend and speak or submit written testimony.  Remember to supply 20 copies of any testimony given. Mary-Anne asked that anyone planning to testify or submit written testimony contact her in advance for coordination.

Summary of Part LL language was shared. According to testimony before Appropriations and State and Local Government, the $40,000 cash match for MCCS would become $40,000 in-kind.  The specifics are unclear because Dept of Ed's indirect rate covers the items mentioned as becoming in-kind match. Clarification is needed soon in order to revise budget and start federal grant changes. 

Govenor's Awards.  The task force has taken a major role in organizing the ceremony for the Governor's awards. There is just one ceremony this year. The Roll of Honor will be published in Bangor Daily News instead of asking everyone to travel to Augusta. The individual awards will be held in the Hall of Flags. Commissioners and volunteers are needed to help conduct the event. The First Lady of Maine will present this year.

Excellence and Expertise

Chair for 2012 Blaine House Conference on Service and Volunteerism.  Barbara Wentworth has agree to be the new Chair. Lindsey J. Oliver will also serve on the planning group. Invitations to members of the field to serve on the planning committee have gone out. There is a really good response. Committee orientation is scheduled for Wednesday, 28th

Requested additional/supplemental funding through PDAT to reinstate the cost share for National Service participants who attend this conference. Last year these funds supported 150 people.

The Corporation announced it is changing how training/technical assistance funds are distributed. None will be allocated to states. All the funds will be awarded in a competitive process that targets only regional activity. That means there will be no training or technical assistance for new grantees and no assistance for existing grantees.

American Express (Amex). The request for project support was submitted. No answer yet.

E&E task force is planning a work session in the next few weeks. It plans to follow the example of the Service-Learning Task Force and augment membership with professionals in the field.

Board Development

Officer elections are in June. Mary-Anne's term ends. The succession plan is that Drew moves to the Chair position, Ron Holmes moves to Chair-elect; and a new person becomes Vice-Chair (position vacant). Anyone interested in the position please let Mary-Anne know ASAP.

Recruitment of Members for Vacancies. Names and paperwork must be submitted in June to the Governor's Office for processing over the summer; should process out by October or November.

Three members completing terms have indicated they are not available for reappointment. They are Brenda Peluso, Steve Letourneau, and Deb Eckart.  The Coop-Extension will not offer another candidate. Brenda has a recommendation for her replacement as does Steve.

Other vacancies are in representation of local government, human services/health, volunteer programs with adults over 55, and disadvantaged youth. Geographic representation needed from downeast, Aroostook, and midcoast.

Board Development will check with remaining members whose terms expire to see if they would like to be reappointed.

Retreat Planning.  Due to funding reductions, New Hampshire State Commission is unable to commit to a joint retreat this year. Instead of a June retreat, it was suggested the retreat be the 3rd week of August. It is expected we will be far enough through transitions that planning can be done. Recommendations for a facilitator are needed. Please forward suggestions to Drew or Joel or Ron. We expect the location will have to be our former site, UMaine with overnight at the Black Bear. Funding for this is quite tight.

Service-Learning

While not at the meeting, Michael's report informed the Commission that Richard Higgins joined the Commission as the Service-learning VISTA in February 2012. Richard spent six years working in international development, where he focused on educator training and community development. Prior to that, he worked as an interpreter for more than a decade. In his role as an AmeriCorps Service-Learning VISTA, Richard is developing resources and facilitating a community of practice for educational institutions, volunteer organizations, and other partner groups that are involved with service-learning.

No task force meeting today since Mike is in Washington attending a meeting of state commissions with emergency or disaster response roles.

MCCS had the lead in Global Service Day activities in Maine. Through a partnership with Lincoln Middle School in Portland, students from kindergarten through college are being challenged to pledge volunteer service on the day. A pledge card going out; more than 600 youth involved.

CNCS Update (Smart)

Always recruiting for VISTA. The Corporation is developing standardized performance measures for Senior Corps and VISTA. Expects to roll out all at the same time. They have to go through OMB so it won't happen in the near future.

2013 CNCS Budget and Congressional Budget Justification

A slide presentation was made by Maryalice. See posted summary.

Planning & Future Initiatives

The strategic plan work session carried over to next Commission meeting due to lack of time.

Adjourned at 12:15