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Commission Minutes

May 17, 2013

Present: [in person] Celeste Branham, Susan Lavigne, Kathy Billings, Casey Bromberg, Janice Daku, Susan Hammond, Ron Holmes, Mark Hews, Andrew Matlins, Joan McDonald, Lindsey Oliver, John Portela, Nancy McKechnie, Eileen Smart, Colleen Smith, Barbara Wentworth, David Wihry 

Staff present: Pam Zeutenhorst, Maryalice Crofton

Public Comment Period. Jo Orlando thanked the Commission for having a representative (John Portela) at the celebration of the Maine Conservation Corps and Civilian Conservation Corps anniversaries. The event was the day before this meeting.

Convene. MCCS Chair Drew Matlins called the meeting to order at 10:08 am.  After introductions, the quiz answer was offered. Six Commissioners had submitted correct answers. There were no announcements or additions/deletions to the agenda.

Planning and Future Initiatives
A. Maine Community Foundation presentation
Casey Bromberg, chair of the Resource Development Task Force, introduced Jennifer Southard from the Maine Community Foundation. Before Jennifer's presentation, Bromberg retraced the events that led to this point and reminded MCCS members of the questions raised in January's work session regarding a donor advised fund at MCF to supplement public funding of MCCS initiatives.

Ms Southard gave an overview of a donor advised fund and then responded to a set of questions posed by Commission members. Any differences between terms outlined in MCF materials for individuals and their terms for funds with institutional advisors would be reflected in the agreement that establishes the fund. She recommended the fund be established initially as a "spend out" type but assured everyone it could be converted to a permanent fund down the line. The organization needs to establish specific positions as the advisors and specify those in the agreement. A legal requirement of a donor advised fund is that payments may not be made to individuals nor may advisors personally benefit. It was noted that the term "donor advised fund" is now legally defined which is an evolution of the mechanism. Donors do advise but do not control. The foundation handles investment performance and fees, tax documentation for donors, tax reports, collecting grantee reports, etc. It was noted that MCF does not act as a fiscal agent using a donor advised fund.

At the conclusion of the discussion, Bromberg thanked Ms Southard for the information and her time. It was also noted that someone will be working with the Commission to establish the fund and the person will begin this service on June 24.

Business Reports   (Reports submitted are posted.) 
A. Minutes of March Board Meeting
Moved by Portela to accept the minutes as posted. Second by Branham. No discussion. Motion carried unanimously.

B. Executive Committee (Matlins)
1. Action on Minutes of April 19 Exec meeting. Moved by McDonald to approve the Executive Committee actions reported in the minutes. Second by Holmes. No discussion. Motion carried unanimously.
2. Results of board poll about meeting schedule. The poll of members regarding board meeting time will result in a change of day but not change of time. Beginning in September 2013, the meetings will routinely be held on the second Friday of the month (a week earlier) from 10 am to 12:30 pm. According to the poll, this should resolve the difficulties around quorum.
3. MCCS Representation at June National Meeting. State Commissions take advantage of the gathering at the national conference to hold some meetings of peers and policy discussions. David Wihry will represent the board and Pam Zeutenhorst will be the sole staff person attending.

C. Board Development (Holmes, Branham)
1. Progress on recruitment of youth Commissioner candidates. Task Force members have had direct contact with students on several campuses who would qualify. So far none have submitted the candidate paperwork. There is one current opening and, depending on Lindsey's plans after September, possibly two. At least one candidate will require action at the June meeting. Recruitment continues. It was noted there are no other open seats at this time.
2. Topics for retreat work. So far the retreat agenda will cover resource development and strategic plan sessions. The task force met this morning to review the poll of Commissioners regarding critical pieces to cover. There is significant support for some time devoted to MCCS history (where have we been) and AmeriCorps (MCCS role, how grant process works, impact on communities of the programs funded). Board Development is meeting with the facilitator next week (Joel Russ) to finalize the agenda. It will be distributed with "homework" for attendees by the first week of June.

D.Grants Task Force (McDonald)
1. Report from May meeting. The task force is now focusing on review of AmeriCorps continuation applications. The recommendations for funding and AmeriCorps members slots will be on the June board meeting agenda. Action will be needed that day.
2. Other. There was a brief discussion of an issue that has caused friction between State Service Commissions and CNCS. During a portion of the federal grant review process known as "clarification" CNCS implemented policy change and change in the published NOFO at a point when assessment of proposals was still underway and applicants were not allowed to add new information. The policy change was a shift from considering the percentage of match as a key criteria (per CFR) to how low the applicant's cost per FTE (member service year) was proposed to be. The second policy change was that each applicant was considered individually rather than past practice of looking at the overall state portfolio cost. Finally, CNCS instituted an across the board reduction of 5% in the cost per FTE even for programs that were already proposing a cost per FTE that was 80% below the maximum allowed. The disagreement has been vigorous, not been resolved, and cannot be resolved until the competition is complete.

E. Strategic Plan (Holmes)
1. Results of poll on extension; next steps. Commissioners unanimously agreed in the survey to extend the current strategic plan for 3 years in order to better align its development cycle  with the federal/CNCS strategic plan. The next steps will be developed at the Task Force meeting which takes place later today.

F. Service-learning (Wentworth)
1. Recommendation to retire task force. The rationale for retiring the task force was reviewed. The work now underway is more appropriately overseen by staff. Motion by Wentworth to retire the service-learning task force. Second by Daku. Discussion focused on the downside of taking this step. None could be identified. A comment was offered that the motion may be premature since the re-examination of the strategic plan goal has not occurred. It was agreed that there is no downside to having the task force dormant for the summer. Motion and second were withdrawn. 

G. Public Information and Education/Public Policy (Portela)
The task force did not meet this month. It was focused on Governor's Service Awards.

H. Excellence and Expertise (Hews)
1. Professional Development Fund. The experience of reviewing applications for support prompted a discussion of the policy which hasn't been updated for quite some time. The task force will look at the policy, its intent, the issues identified this spring and revamp the policy with the goal of bringing it to the Commission in September.

2. Service Enterprise application - MCCS partnered with United Way of York County which serves as the required HandsOn Affiliate partner in the application. The Service Enterprise project is not an award of money but an "award" of training, use of training and evaluation materials that will be a cost to others in the future, and technical assistance. Maine offers HandsOn and Points of Light Institute a rural setting to implement the model of assessing organizational excellence in volunteerism. The UWYC and MCCS will serve as gateways for other volunteer centers and organizations around the state. The selection of sites is to be announced today.

I. Blaine House Conference on Service/Volunteerism (Daku, Wihry)
1. Planning overview. The core committee has been recruited and met several times. Most members are from the networks of volunteer managers around the state.

The conference focus this year is built around the Civic Health Index which has civic engagement and volunteering as key indicators. The theme will be "Developing Community by Tapping Citizen Service." David is working with the National Conference on Citizenship to identify the most appropriate staff member to be keynote speaker. In addition, they have said they would help identify a couple of states that have completed the full state level research and are using it to guide development work. Representatives of those states will be asked to attend and present workshops on their experiences. Five members of the planning committee will be at the national conference and will recruit additional presenters.

2. Sponsorships needed. The conference did not have sufficient underwriting last year so the working capital for starting up each year was wiped out and there was a small deficit. Securing adequate sponsorship is a top priority this year in order to avoid raising the registration fee. Sponsorship identification needs to be completed within six weeks.  

Commission members are asked to help secure sponsorships. Contact Janice or David for materials and sponsorship structure.

J. CNCS field office update. (Smart) 
VISTA recruitment has been most everyone's attention. Senior Corps week was recognized by a letter from Governor LePage rather than a proclamation. Everyone was quite pleased to receive the letter. CNCS is going to have a role in public education around the affordable care act. The nature and scope of the role will not be known until the May 30 briefing for CNCS staff.

K. MCCS Staff
1. Office staffing plan and changes in staff support assigned to Task Forces. Interviews are underway for the Planning and Research Associate I position. There won't be any action on the Senior Planner position Meredith held until the PRA is resolved.

The staff support changes for task forces going forward will be:

  • Ashmore - Grant Selection and Performance, Public Information & Education/Public Policy
  • Zeutenhorst - Excellence and Expertise
  • Crofton - Executive, Board Development, Resource Development, Strategic Planning
  • Unassigned - Service-learning

2. Clarifications of staff reports if requested by Commissioners. None were requested.

Focus on Mission/Responsibilities 
A. Program Overview: AmeriCorps REAL School
(RSU 14) 
Craig Haims represented the REAL School AmeriCorps program and made a presentation about its first year. A question/answer session followed. This is the 4th of 6 presentations requested by Commissioners with the goal of learning about program activities in other ways than grant reviews.

Business Wrap Up 
On behalf of the Commissioners, Matlins presented MCCS Staff with a token of appreciation for their commitment and effort. Pam, Mike, and Maryalice thanked everyone and look forward to this special lunch!

And, again on behalf of the Commissioners as well as staff, Matlins congratulated board member Oliver on her college degree completion. She responded that she is excited to be moving to Portland to begin a summer job with the Seadogs.

Next business meeting is June 21, 2013 at the Klahr Holocaust Center, University of Maine Augusta.

Motion to adjourn made by Holmes. Second by Portela.

The meeting adjourned at 12:30 pm