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Commission Minutes

January 18, 2013

Present: Celeste Branham, Susan Lavigne, Bonnie Bagley, Kathy Billings, Scott Blake, Mary Katherine Bromberg, Janice Daku, Susan Hammond, Betsy Fitzgerald, Ron Holmes, Mark Hews, Kristie Littlefield, Lindsey Oliver, Dwane Hubert, John Portela, Eileen Smart, Barbara Wentworth, David Wihry

Staff in attendance: Pam Zeutenhorst, Meredith Eaton, Michael Ashmore, Deb Couture, Maryalice Crofton

Public Comment Period: No comment offered.

Call to Order by the presiding officer, chair-elect Ron Holmes, at 10:08 am.

Welcome, Announcements, Agenda Adjustments

After introductions, the quiz answer was addressed. Four Commissioners responded correctly and two new Commissioners correctly answered the bonus question. Everyone was recognized.

Announcements:  Richard Higgins, who has been serving as a VISTA and located at the Commission, will complete his term of service in three weeks. This is his final meeting with the board. Ron Holmes and Mike Ashmore joined to recognize Richard for his service and accomplishments. Dwane Hubert pointed out Richard will be taking a job with MEMA that will require he continue working with the Commission on the state emergency response function associated with donations coordination.

Bill Basl, CNCS Director of AmeriCorps, will come to Maine in April. He will be the keynote speaker at the Maine AmeriCorps Member Conference at Thomas College and available to the Commission for other meetings over a 36 hour period.  New Commissioners were reminded the last session of orientation is immediately following this meeting.

Additions to the agenda are within task force reports. There were no deletions.

Business Reports
A. Minutes of November Board Meeting: Moved by Fitzgerald to accept as posted. Second by Bagley. Vote was 18 in favor, 0 opposed, 1 abstention (Billings).

B. Executive Committee: The Exec Committee took actions on behalf of the board at its December meeting so that report does require formal acceptance. Moved by Bagley to accept the minutes as posted. Second by Fitzgerald. Vote was 18 in favor, 0 opposed, 1 abstention (Oliver).

There were no requests for clarification of the January meeting notes.

C. Grants Task Force: Branham started by noting there were four peer reviewers who should be recognized for their work. This year they were new Commissioners and a newly retired Commissioner: Bonnie Bagley, Betsy Fitzgerald, David Wihry, and Andrew McLean.

Commissioners were also reminded that the final application from Bangor for the Governor/Mayor initiative will be reviewed by the task force after January 25. Because the deadline for submission to the federal agency is before the next MCCS meeting, the Executive Committee will need to approve submitting it or not at the February 4th meeting.

Motion by Whiry to authorize the Executive Committee to take final action on the Governor/Mayor AmeriCorps application at its February meeting. Second by Branham. Vote was unanimous in favor. Motion passed.

1. AmeriCorps grant recommendations - Branham proceeded to offer the task force recommendations for disposition of applications in the form of motions. Background materials on the applications had been posted for Commissioners with the meeting agenda. Two MCCS members (Bromberg and Lavigne) informed Holmes they needed to abstain from discussion and voting.

Moved that the KVCAP application be moved forward for submission to the national competition with the condition that budget and other typographical errors be corrected prior to submission.  The recommendation is unanimous from the task force which expressed strong support for this application. Second by Bagley. Discussion was minimal. Vote was 17 in favor, 0 opposed, and 2 abstentions (Lavigne and Bromberg). Motion passed.

Moved that the Opportunity Alliance application not be moved forward for submission to the national competition. Task Force members expressed significant reservations concerning the Opportunity Alliance application and the recommendation is unanimous from the members. Second by Fitzgerald. Discussion was minimal. Vote was 17 in favor, 0 opposed, and 2 abstentions (Lavigne and Bromberg). Motion passed.

2. Action recommended on year 2 continuation of AmeriCorps*State Competitive grant to Maine Conservation Corps - Branham offered the recommendation of the task force. The background summary was posted with the Commission meeting agenda.

Moved to fund continuation of Maine Conservation Corps in the amount of $351,583 to be matched with no less than $915,531, with the condition that the organization implement a rigorous strategic planning process aimed at making the program more competitive, engage the new director in intensive training in the AmeriCorps model and convene a local advisory board to inform the design, implementation and evaluation of the program. Second by Fitzgerald.

Discussion centered around the timing of the continuation application because the program operating cycle and the federal application for funding cycle do not mesh well. The program must apply for year two funding before it has begun its year one operations. Another topic of discussion was the challenges evident in the program and the root causes as well as likelihood of change. The question was called.

Vote was unanimous in favor. Motion passed.

2. Volunteer Generation Fund grants - Wihry offered the task force recommendations as motions.

a) Motion to fund Downeast Resource and Development Council in the amount of $11,562, to be matched locally with no less than $ 8,746, with the condition that the organization continue to improve internal controls with continued monitoring by Commission staff.  The one member of the Grants Task Force abstained from the recommendation. Second by Hubert.

Discussion was around internal controls with a request for clarification on what was being referenced. It was noted the organization had recently gone to an all-volunteer model of operation and was adjusting its policies and procedures to reflect the change.

Vote on the motion was 18 in favor, 0 opposed, 1 abstention (Fitzgerald). Motion passed.

b) Moved to fund HealthReachRSVP in the amount of $13,484, to be matched locally with no less than $ 8,161, with no conditions.  The Grants Task Force is unanimous in this recommendation. Second by Fitzgerald.

Discussion item was clarification of a typo in the background materials. The minimum match required is 35% and the applicant has proposed 37%.

Vote on the motion was unanimous in favor. Motion passed.

 3. Change proposed in Commission policy on its input to CNCS regarding National Direct AmeriCorps applications - A few years ago, the Commission established a policy on how it would respond to CNCS's request for Commission input on AmeriCorps applications that are submitted directly to the feds but propose to site members in Maine. The input procedure was set up to encourage national nonprofits to comply with the section of the law requiring consultation with state commissions prior to submitting funding proposals (new and continuation). Commission input is registered in eGrants as one of three pre-set options: do not support, neutral, or support.

The MCCS policy is that applicants who do not consult receive "Do Not Support."  Applicants who consult but operate programs outside of the Commission's areas of focus (i.e., funding priorities) receive a "Neutral" endorsement. Applicants who consult and operate programs within the Commission's areas of focus receive "Support."

Grants TF recommends a change to the Commission. Moved by Wihry on behalf of the task force that programs focusing on veterans and military families be included in the Commission's areas of focus for the purpose of providing input on National Direct Applications. Second by Fitzgerald. Discussion was minimal. Vote to approve was unanimous. Motion passed.

The members of the Grant Selection and Performance Task Force were thanked for their dedication and effort over the last two months.

D. Board Development: No new business to present.

E. Public Information and Education/ Public Policy: Portela reported for the task force.

Commissioners are asked to be present at the following public events if at all possible.

-- The routine briefing of our legislative oversight committee (Joint Standing Committee on State and Local Government) is scheduled for January 23 at 9am. The committee room is 214 in the Cross Office Building, one floor above the MCCS office. Commission chair Drew Matlins will make the presentation. [Note: the date was changed by the committee subsequent to the meeting. New date(tentative) is January 30.]

-- March 6 is National Service Day at the Capitol. Commissioners are needed to act as non-program hosts, greeting legislators and connecting them with programs serving in either their committee area or district. All the National Service programs are in the Hall of Flags and each year an increasing number of legislators come by to learn what is happening in their areas. The event is primarily morning.

-- April 9 is a new federally organized event, Mayoral recognition of National Service programs. Eileen Smart will speak to this during her report on CNCS.

The greeting letter to members of the new legislature was circulated earlier. All Commissioners present are asked to submit recommendations for changes to John or MCCS staff. The letter will be finalized and distributed over the next week. There was discussion about individual follow-up by Commissioners. The consensus was that an email to each person notifying them the letter had gone out would be best. They can then follow-up with their local contacts.

F. Excellence and Expertise: The task force has not met. It is still in search of a chair. There has been progress by staff on the strategic plan tasks and that is reflected in the posted staff reports.

G. Service-learning: Wentworth reported for the task force. Sample copies of the final guide to implementing service-learning in Maine school districts were passed around. This is Richard's final assignment in his year of service. It is very comprehensive. A small number of hard copies will be available but most of the distribution will be done online. It is phenomenal. 

A network of service learning practitioners was launched using the Dept. of Educations communities of practice platform. Early count of users show 20 participants.

H. Resource Development: Bromberg and Wentworth reported. An overview of Maine Community Foundation's Donor Advised Fund was distributed along with a short summary of the task force members' initial thoughts on key points. Commissioners reviewed the handout and then Casey facilitated Commissioners' input on three points. The results (to be posted separately) will be data for the task force to work with.

I. CNCS field office update: The United States Conference of Mayors and CNCS have partnered on the first-ever Mayors' Day of Recognition for National Service to be held April 9, 2013. Three mayors in Maine (Bangor, Lewiston, Portland) have agreed to issue proclamations and hold events recognizing the impact of National Service programs and participants. Eileen asked for assistance from Commissioners in enlisting mayors in smaller cities such as Rockland, Waterville, etc. 

The info handed out is also available on www.nationalservice.gov/mayorsforservice . There are instructions on what mayors need to do to participate (mayoral proclamation, hosting an event - any scale from press conference recognizing people serving to round table public discussion of city problems and National Service response).

J. MCCS Staff: No clarifications of staff reports was requested.

Planning and Future Initiatives
A. Next meeting: All task force chairs were polled about issues needing action in February. None were identified. Since the meeting schedule calls for either a February or March meeting, the indications are March should be the next one. It was agreed that there will not be a meeting in February.

B. Call for members on ad hoc strategic plan development task force: The current plan expires at the end of 2013. Commissioners are invited to serve on the ad hoc committee to guide development of the next plan which will cover 2014 to 2017. Please contact Drew or Ron if interested.

Focus on Mission/Responsibilities
A. Maine AmeriCorps Members - Report of 2012 Exit Interviews:  This year the report data covers only one class and doesn't have year over year trend data because the survey was updated. However, the data represents nearly all the AmeriCorps members who served in Maine because it was the largest response rate ever (197 AmeriCorps State/National and VISTA members out of 290 or 68%). Commissioners who wish to see the information not highlighted in the report should contact Maryalice.

Motion to adjourn at 12:15 pm by Fitzgerald. Second by Branham. Unanimous approval.