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Commission Minutes

June 15, 2012

LOCATION: Khlar Holocaust Center, University of Maine Augusta

IN ATTENDANCE: Marcia Hartt, Ron Holmes, Joan McDonald, Barb Wentworth, Joel Russ, Celeste Branham, Susan Lavigne, Eileen Smart, Andrew McLean, John Portela, Kristie Littlefield, Casey Bromberg, Mary-Anne, LaMarre, Brenda Peluso

STAFF PRESENT: Meredith Eaton, Michael Ashmore, Maryalice Crofton, Pam Zeutenhorst

Public Comment - None

The meeting was called to order at 10:14 am by Chairman LaMarre. Commissioners were asked to introduce themselves for the benefit of public observers present. There were no agenda adjustments.

Quiz - Three Commissioners found the reference to MCCS in the Dept. of Education strategic plan. They were Barb Wentworth, Joan McDonald, and Ron Holmes.

Recognition of Major Sponsors of Governor's Service Awards. Chairman LaMarre presented United Insurance's representative (Marcia Hartt accepting for the company) with a token of appreciation for their sponsorship of the Hall of Flags Ceremony for Governor's Service Awards. The Bangor Daily News was also recognized for their sponsorship of the Roll of Honor which included a full page listing of award recipients and an advertisement on their internet publication that linked to a listing on VolunteerMaine.org. Their representative was unable to attend today but the appreciation will be delivered. Both sponsors were key to maintaining the high quality of recognition.

 Focus on Mission/Responsibilities

Report from Service-learning grantee. What the data shows about student achievement.
Michael Ashmore reported on behalf of Patrick Carson who learned last night that funding for his position at MSAD #17 has been lost. Fortunately, Mike had a chance to visit the district and observe their service-learning efforts last week. MSAD #17 uses the Youth-Adult Partnership model of service-learning which involves students and community members in joint decision-making around community needs. The model stresses equal voice for the generations. In MSAD #17, they are completing their second year as a Commission service-learning grantee. Academic scores and performance is showing that students in service-learning classrooms are achieving 3 years growth in reading and math in just one year. In addition, there is increased attendance and decreased truancy among students in these classes. Patrick has been deliberate in tracking the changes by comparing records of students in service-learning classrooms with those of students in grades that are not implementing service-learning. The school has 4 grade levels engaged in service-learning.

Based on a description of the approach to implementation and the community facility used, Joel Russ asked for an introduction to whoever will be left at the site. Mike will follow-up. It was also noted that the future of service-learning coordinator position is unclear since the district has just become aware of the funding cut. The position had been supported through Healthy Maine Partnership funds from Oxford Hills.

Business Reports
Minutes of April Board Meeting (LaMarre). The minutes were posted with the agenda.

MOTION: Approve the minutes as published. Moved by Portela. Second by Holmes. No discussion. Motion passed unanimously.

Grants Task Force (McDonald). First item was introduction of a motion to acknowledge the contribution of peer reviewers to the grant selection process.

MOTION: To thank the peer reviewers who collectively donated over 200 hours to the selection process. The individuals contributing their time and expertise were Dorathy Martel (Eastern Maine Development Corp., Bangor), Jennifer Trowbridge (Washington Hancock Community Action, Ellsworth), Gigi Rolfes (Volunteer Macon, Atlanta, GA), Deborah Somers (Penquis, Dover-Foxcroft), Robert Lewis (Welkin Associates, Chantilly, VA), Patricia Ohler (Auburn), Cheryle Yallen (CNY Enterprises, Chicago, IL), Pam Holland (ADCARE Education Institute, Augusta). Moved by McDonald. Second by Portela. Motion passed unanimously.

Staff will send a letter with a copy of this and the Commission's appreciation to these volunteers.

AmeriCorps*State Formula grant awards. The triennial competitive selection process for AmeriCorps*State Formula grants has been completed. Background materials on scores, grant requests, and review comments as well as clarification issues was distributed to the Commission earlier in the week. The Grant task force unanimous recommendations are being presented as motions for funding. The results of the motions presented today constitute awarding grants to applicants.

MOTION: As the highest scoring applicant under RFP # 201203261, fund Island Institute in the amount of $130,000, pending corrections and clarifications noted in the program summary.  Moved by Joan McDonald on behalf of the task force members. Second Portela. No discussion. Motion passed unanimously.

MOTION: As the highest scoring applicant under RFP # 201112193, fund RSU#14/Real School in the amount of $129,152, pending corrections and clarifications noted in the program summary. Moved by Joan McDonald on behalf of the task force members. Second Portela. No discussion. Motion passed unanimously.

MOTION: As the next highest scoring applicant under RFP # 201112193, fund Goodwill Industries of Northern New England in the amount of $260,000, pending corrections and clarifications noted in the program summary. Moved by Joan McDonald on behalf of the task force members. Second Portela. No discussion. Motion passed unanimously.

In order to make the final grant award, the Commission needs to waive its requirement that an AmeriCorps program support a minimum of 10 Member Service Years (17,000 hours).

MOTION: That a one-time waiver of the requirement for the 10 MSY minimum size of a Maine AmeriCorps program be waived for FoodCorps. Moved by Portela. Second by Holmes. Motion passed unanimously.

MOTION: That the application from FoodCorps (third highest score) be funded as a Fixed Price grant with the remaining $78,000 to support at least six full-time AmeriCorps members pending corrections and clarifications noted in the program summary. Moved by Joan McDonald on behalf of the task force members. Second Portela. No discussion. Motion passed unanimously.

The Commissioners congratulated both the new AmeriCorps grant recipients and the task force members who put in many, many hours over the past six months.

Joan commended Mike Ashmore for his thorough work and support of the task force.

Board Development (Russ)
Election of officers for 2012-2014. The candidates for Commission officers has not changed since it was first discussed in March.

MOTION: To elect Andrew Matlins as chair, Ronald Holmes as chair-elect, and John Portela as vice-chair of the Commission for the period June 2012 to June 2014. Moved by Joan McDonald. Second by Barb Wentworth. No discussion. Motion passed unanimously.

Presentation of candidates to recommend to Governor for appointment. Since the last meeting, 18 people have requested application paperwork but not all have had a chance to submit. The task force met yesterday and agreed to extend the deadline for submitting nominating papers by one week (to June 22). Board Development is therefore not prepared to present recommendations today. It will have a full slate for consideration by the Executive Committee at its July meeting. Joel reviewed the list of people seeking re-appointment and the open seats as well as the demographic and political traits needed to keep the legally required balance.

Commission Retreat. Members should save the dates of August 21 and 22 (Tuesday and Wednesday) for the annual retreat. The site will be the Klahr Holocaust Center at University of Maine Augusta. There will be overnight accommodations at government rate for Commissioners who need them due to distance. The facilitator search is still underway although two people have been contacted. Traditionally the start time is 10 am on the first day and the retreat closes around noon on the second day. Those times are approximate until the agenda is set.

Other. At this time, Ron Holmes took the floor to present Mary-Anne LaMarre, the out-going chair of the Commission, with a token of appreciation for her two years of time-intensive, dedicated leadership. He noted she has been faithful to her promise to be the Commission's cheerleader, been the leader during two extraordinary years of transitions and changes, represented the Maine Commission is Washington DC at her own expense, and successfully juggled her job with the Maine Sheriffs Association, family changes, and Commission leadership. The Commissioners and staff present joined Ron is expressing their heartfelt gratitude.

At this point, in the absence of the new chair, Ron Holmes stepped in to lead the rest of the meeting.

Executive Committee (Holmes)
June meeting. The teleconference notes were posted with the agenda. There were no requests from Commissioners for clarification. There were no action items so no motion was required.
Wendy Spencer call with Governor LePage. Mary-Anne brokered an introductory call between the new Corporation CEO Wendy Spencer and Governor LePage. Wendy formerly led the Florida state commission and has made a commitment to re-invigorate the federal-state partnership underlying national service. Reports back to staff after the meeting were that it was very cordial and the governor invited Ms Spencer to Maine. 

Comments/feedback on notes from May work session. Commissioners not present at the May work session were offered a chance to ask for clarification or add comments. None were offered.

Formation of Finance and Resource Development Task Force. At the May work session, a number of issues related to finances and resources for carrying out work were surfaced. Executive Committee recommends that a new task force be created to assess the current environment, MCCS finances, gaps or opportunities, and develop recommendations for strengthening MCCS resources. It was noted that expanding fund-raising activities may be part of the effort but that is not the only issue. Support for core operating expenses - things donors don't underwrite - has been lost

MOTION: To create a Finance and Resource Development Task Force to assess the Commission funding sources, changes in the environment, financial needs, gaps and opportunities and develop recommendations for strengthening MCCS financial resources. Moved: Bromberg. Second: LaMarre. No discussion. Motion passed unanimously. Casey was asked to serve on the task force.

Public Information and Education/ Public Policy (McLean). There have been two meetings since May. Notes for one were posted with the agenda and contained a proposed set of selection criteria for the Champion of Service Award. The Commission selects the recipient and presents the award at the Blaine House Conference on Service and Volunteerism. Commissioners were asked for feedback and comments on the proposed criteria. After some discussion, the criteria remained unaltered. The call for nominations will open in July and close in September.

This morning's meeting discussion was largely updates of assignments made in May. The Task Force will continue to meet during the summer but the time will change to the 3rd Thursday: July 19 @ 2:30pm and August 16 @ 2:30 pm. Both will be teleconferences.

Excellence and Expertise (Eaton for Matlins). Blaine House Conference chair is Barb Wentworth. Wendy Spencer will be invited to be the keynote speaker. The theme for 2012 is "Service as a Pathway." The conference will remain at University of Maine and the date is Tuesday, October 9. The call for workshop proposals has been issued and there is still 1.5 weeks before it closes.  Lindsey Oliver is the subcommittee lead for selecting workshop proposals.

Other. Two applications for professional development support were selected for funding by the task force. This was the last call for applications in 2012.

Meredith also noted that MCCS staff are collaborating on a response to the federal CNCS call for public comment on the proposed changes in Program Development and Training approaches. The comment notice was published in the federal register and has an early July deadline.

Service-learning. The task force met yesterday so notes were not posted until last night. Highlights of the meeting were reviewed. MCCS will again apply to Youth Service America for a $2,000 grant to support Global Youth Service Day activities across Maine. The grant requires engaging 600 youth and, last year, Maine involved nearly 1,000. Another topic of discussion was the service-learning track at the Blaine House conference on Oct. 9.

Two white papers were distributed. "Infusing Service-learning into Learner-centered Education in Maine" is the newest and was vetted through several venues before final publishing. The second ("From Vision to Reality: A Plan for Service-learning in Maine") has been annotated to describe how the Commission plan for service-learning expansion aligns with the Dept. of Education's strategic plan.

Barb Wentworth and Joan McDonald each remarked on the excellent work Richard Higgins is doing around service-learning and thanked him.

 CNCS field office update (Smart).  Eileen reported on federal budget progress. She also noted that Senior Corps is now required to use standardized performance measures and programs are in the midst of implementing the requirement. She also reported on her site visit to UMCE's Senior Companion program which included her first trip to Washington County.

Planning and Future Initiatives

Commission VISTA Project Overview -Held over from April (Eaton). Using a brief paper, Meredith walked Commissioners through the history of the project (start date July 2011), the growth from 14 to 34 members, the performance measures, progress to date, and community host sites. The challenges noted included turmoil in networks that had initially been strong partners, particularly the Healthy Maine Partnerships which were interested in tackling obesity and diabetes prevention. The unanticipated success with veterans placements is largely due to VISTA leader Eileen Buzzello's commitment to these issues. It was noted that the Maine project adopted performance measurement during a time when VISTA was not using that model. As a result, the Maine project has been a pilot and guide for nationwide movement to standardized performance measures in VISTA projects. Recognition went to Pam Zeutenhorst (2011 VISTA director) and Meredith Eaton (current VISTA director) for their foresight.

Transition to Dept. of Education (Crofton). The legal change date is July 2. All systems are changing. In order to orient Dept of Education leadership to MCCS structures, activities, operations, and policies Maryalice has developed a system of briefings. Each covers one topic and so far, five have been sent to the department. There are three more to go. Commissioner Bowen has committed to meeting with MCCS staff about service-learning on June 21. MCCS staff have also met with the leaders of the department's literacy initiative to begin exploring roles for National Service programs and possible links to VGF grantees.

Hiring for staff vacancy (Crofton). The Planning and Research Associate position will be filled on a half-time basis for the next few years. The hiring freeze exemption was granted early in May so advertising for applicants closed at the end of May. Interviews happened yesterday and a candidate should be cleared to start work around the first of July. In response to a question, there are two very qualified people but background checks have not been completed.

MOTION: Adjourn. Moved by Portela. Second by McDonald. Motion passed unanimously. The meeting adjourned at 12:31 pm.