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Commission Minutes

January 15, 2016

Present: [in person] Edward A. Barrett, Kevin Bois, F. Celeste Branham, Ross Cunningham, Janice Daku, Mandela Gardner, Elizabeth Hite, Ron Holmes, Laura Hudson, Rob Liscord, Gordon Liu, Nicole Pellenz, Lori Parham, John Portela, Barbara Wentworth, David Wihry, Joseph Young

Public Comment  
AmeriCorps program directors introduced themselves and gave updates. The director of the new AmeriCorps Somerset County program gave an overview of their start-up.

Meeting 
The meeting was called to order by Chair Ron Holmes at 10:17 am. After introductions, Chair Ron Holmes presented the new Commission members with MCCS lapel pins. He then introduced the Grand Master of Masons in Maine, David A. Walker, and Grand Marshall William M. Layman. The organization’s charitable foundation is providing the funding support for the Young Maine Roll of Honor in 2016. Mr. Walker presented Ron with a check and accepted the deep gratitude of the Commission for the Mason’s decision to partner on this project.

The Commissioner quiz drew three correct answers including two from new Commissioners. The connection between the quiz and language in the December 2015 appropriations bill for CNCS was explained. There were two additions to the agenda: report from CNCS and an update on the Maine Volunteer Foundation.

Focus on Mission/Responsibilities

1. Briefing by Public Information and Education Task Force  
PIE is the first task force to provide an update to the Commission on strategic plan activities and progress. John Portela made the presentation as task force chair. He noted a lot of effort was directed at the public policy side of the task force work last year. It resulted in passage of the bill giving the Commission to establish the foundation.

Business Reports

1. Minutes  
Approval of the October 2015 minutes was tabled in November. Portela moved the minutes be approved as presented. Second by Branham. Vote to approve: 14 in favor; 0 opposed; 1 abstention (Pellenz).

The November 2015 minutes were posted with this meeting’s agenda. Barrett moved to approve the minutes as presented. Second by Branham. Vote to approve: 14 in favor; 0 opposed; 1 abstention (Pellenz).

2. Executive Committee  
The report of Executive Committee’s meeting was posted. There is a recommendation to retire the Resource Development Task Force since its primary goal (establishing the foundation) has been achieved. A dependent recommendation is that sponsorship development for events be assigned to organizing committees. Portela moved to approve the recommendations and retire the task force. Second by Branham. There were no questions or discussion. Vote to approve: 14 in favor; 0 opposed; 1 abstention (Pellenz).

3. Grant Selection and Performance 
Wihry presented the recommendations on AmeriCorps State Competitive proposals to submit as Maine’s portfolio in the national competition.

Task Force members expressed support for the LearningWorks School Turnaround application. LearningWorks has elected to reapply under the School Turnaround Criteria after their initial grant cycle. LearningWorks is requesting 42.62 MSY distributed over 130 AmeriCorps positions with a federal share of $585,183 matched by $387,244 in local share at a cost per member of $13,730.

Moved by Branham that the LearningWorks application be moved forward for submission to the national competition with the condition that recommended corrections and improvements to the budget and narrative portions be made prior to submission. Second by Barrett. Vote to approve: Unanimous in favor.

Task Force members expressed support for the Maine College of Art-Maine Campus Compact application. Campus Compact applied for formula funds in spring of 2015 and was not funded.  This application is a re-submission with changes made based on feedback from the earlier competition. MECA/MCC is requesting 13.09 MSY distributed over 38 AmeriCorps positions with a federal share of $175,305 matched by $83,969 in local share at a cost per member of $13,392.

Moved by Branham that the Maine College of Art-Maine Campus Compact application be moved forward for submission to the national competition with the condition that recommended corrections and improvements to the narrative portion be made prior to submission. Second by Portela.

Branham asked to withdraw her motion after realizing her employer is a member of the applicant organization. Motion and second withdrawn.

Moved by Daku to approve the motion presented by the Grants Task Force. Second by Liscord. Vote to approve: 14 in favor; 0 opposed; 1 abstain (Branham)

Eastern Maine Development Corporation was the third submission. After Wihry presented an overview of the Eastern Maine Development Corporation, Branham moved application be sent forward for submission to the national competition with the condition that final recommended corrections and improvements to the narrative portion be made prior to submission. Second by Liscord. Vote for approval: Unanimous in favor.

There was one continuation application to review. Task Force expressed support for the Maine Conservation Corps year two application. Because of its delayed start, MCC is only now just beginning year one operations of the grant funded last year. MCC was funded to make a significant change in program focus in choosing Economic Opportunity as a primary program outcome, measuring the number of individuals who complete MCC service and, within one year, gain employment, enter postsecondary education, or begin military or national service.  The Conservation Corps Year Two request is the same as the initial request; 35.03 MSY distributed over 86 AmeriCorps positions with a federal share of $392,090 matched by $1,129,829 in local share at a cost per member of $11,193.

Moved by Branham that the Maine Conservation Corps continuation application be moved forward for submission to CNCS with no conditions. Second by Portela. Vote to approve: Unanimous in favor.

Wihry noted the peer reviewers as well as the task force members did a significant amount of work over the December holidays. The Commissioners wish to thank Jennifer Trowbridge, Deborah Atwood, Sarah Jordan, Katherine Cassidy, and Meghan Duff.

Ed Barrett added that Mike Ashmore had done a commendable job in helping the reviewers and task force members through the process.

4. Board Development  
Celeste reported that one of the two recommendations submitted in December was approved. Carol Rancourt’s appointment to the Commission was posted this week. There are six vacancies to be filled with the next class.

New Commissioner orientation began this morning and will continue for three more sessions.

Ron took this opportunity to announce he had appointed Gordon Liu chair of the Excellence and Expertise Task Force. 

5. Excellence and Expertise. 
Gordon reported that Franklin Project, which had been set up under the auspices of the National Conference on Citizenship, has become part of a new organization called ServiceYear. The new nonprofit merges three national organizations that were working on the same goals.

The task force report from its last meeting was posted. There were no actionable items and no requests for clarifications were made.

 6. Public Information and Education/Public Policy 
John noted his report was contained in the briefing. Commissioners are being asked to give advice via a survey on what activities should be the focus of MCCS efforts. To put the survey in context, it was explained that CNCS has “an idea a week” for Commissions and our resources have shrunk. The public information staff position was lost in 2012.

That said there are two dates for Commissioners to reserve and participate if possible. March 15 will be National Service Day at the Capitol when all National Service programs will be in the Hall of Flags and provide information to legislators.  Two of the Governor’s Service Award events occur the week of April 10. On Sunday, April 10, the Portland Pirates youth volunteer game will be played in the afternoon. Then April 12 is the award ceremony in the Hall of Flags with Maine’s First Lady, Mrs. LePage.

7. MCCS Staff Report  
Maryalice requested assistance on the Governor’s Service Awards organizing. The past sources of committee members is not able to lend staff this year. Ron offered to assist.

Michael explained that, in response to an increased emphasis on evaluation as well as performance management, he is using a curriculum from Bruner Foundation to help AmeriCorps program staff increase their evaluation skills and knowledge. This focus will last through June.

Maryalice noted the following items which cropped up this week: the new Commission business site is live; MCCS is being audited by the state now and CNCS has scheduled an inspection (mini-audit) for June; the Maine Volunteer Foundation accepted the work plan proposed by MCCS; and the Program Development funds for Commissions should be available by May 1.

8. CNCS update 
Libby reported there are changes in their Washington headquarters. After 22 years in the same location, the agency is moving. Also several department heads have left for new jobs. VISTA has a new director who has a one-year agenda. Some changes in the program include moving the required pre-service training to an online format and returning to rolling admissions. On another note, the CNCS regional office is responsible for setting up County Mayor Day Recognition (April 5) so she will be working with Mayors in Maine.

Planning and Future Initiatives

Ron noted he announced task force assignments through an email before the meeting. Discussion of a liaison from the Commissioners to the Maine Volunteer Foundation was tabled until the next meeting.

Moved to adjourn by Branham. Second by Portela. Vote in favor: unanimous.

The meeting was adjourned at 11:42 am.