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Commission Minutes

January 13, 2017

Present: Ed Barrett, Celeste Branham, Ross Cunningham, Mandela Gardner, Elizabeth Hite, Ron Holmes, Rob Liscord, Nicole Pellenz, John Portela, Carol Rancourt, Barb Wentworth, David Wihry, Joe Young

Public Comment Period (Portela) SYStem REAL’s new program director, Jen Craven, introduced herself and made the point that she is a familiar face having been with Goodwill AmeriCorps programs for some time. LearningWorks AmeriCorps staff person, Sara Lolley, gave a brief update of program efforts as did Sandy Goss who is the program director for Take2 AmeriCorps. Joely Ross of Goodwill AmeriCorps programs announced the agency has hired Jen Craven’s replacement.

Call to Order.  Commission Chair Portela called the meeting to order at 10:10 am. He welcomed three Commission candidates who opted to attend to learn about MCCS. They were Matthew Roberts, Adam Lacher, and Jessica Green. There will be one addition to the agenda under staff reports (AmeriCorps Affiliates explanation). The Commission Quiz had only one correct entry from Ed Barrett.

Focus on Mission/Responsibilities      
A. Briefing: Operating Requirements of a Public Board/Commission in Maine. Sarah Forster, Assistant Attorney General in the Office of the Maine Attorney General briefed Commissioners on key components of Maine law governing board operations. She makes the presentation every 3 years or when there is significant change in MCCS membership. She covered key sections of the Commission statute, Maine’s Freedom of Access Act, record retention, and conflict of interest laws.

Planning and Future Initiatives                    
A. Briefing: ServiceYear - New opportunity for Maine communities (Ashmore) Michael presented an overview of ServiceYear’s new initiative, Impact Communities. It builds on the ServiceYear program that MCCS has followed and supported.

A service year is a full-time, paid position where young people can develop skills, build change from the ground up, and make a difference in a community. It differs from AmeriCorps in that it is not part of a grant program and the special exemptions from labor laws that AmeriCorps has do not apply. Service Year positions are reviewed/certified by the national organization – a protection for volunteer applicants. Funding for recruitment, stipends, work tools or materials are all from local resources. Some states are moving to classify service year positions as internships to make clear these are not jobs and not intended to be employment.

The new outgrowth of individual Service Year opportunities is the IMPACT COMMUNITY. Participation lasts 24 months. An Impact Community tackles specific community need(s) and measurable goals by developing a set of service year positions. Young adults are then recruited to fill the positions and work together to meet the goals under the supervision of one or more community partners. In support of those who serve, the partners develop strategies that will advance service year corps member careers and education goals. They also build a network of residents and landlords who can offer housing to corps members. And they commit to lining up end-of-service job interviews for the young people.

In Maine, Commission staff have found strong interest in the Impact Community model among three municipalities so far. Local funding, agreeing on the issue focus, and preparation for volunteers needs more work.

In answer to a question, the model can be implemented by small towns who need only one or two Service Year volunteers. The Impact Community model requires a #/thousand residents so it is scalable. More information can be found at http://about.serviceyear.org/places or by connecting with Michael Ashmore. 

B. Proposal to change model used for strategic planning (Wihry/Portela)  
Portela explained that the Commission will undertake a new strategic planning process in 2017. Executive Committee looked at options for plans that are better suited to the very fluid environment MCCS operates in. The challenge is to find a model that still meets the requirements of the Government Performance Results Act that are passed through to MCCS while not locking MCCS into a level of strategy detail that inhibits success. Wihry gave an overview of an adaptive strategic planning model, also called “real time strategic planning.”  It builds in options to shift strategies if better opportunities arise. There is greater emphasis on what is unique about entity and leveraging strengths. Current capacity and/or access to increased capacity is considered. A document from the internet that gives a sense of the model will be sent to Commissioners for review. Those present generally support the use of a more flexible strategic plan model.

Business Reports         
A. November Minutes (Portela) The minutes from November were posted. Moved by Pellenz to approve the minutes as presented. Second by Holmes. There was no discussion. Vote on motion: unanimous approval.

B. Executive Committee (Portela) The December 2016 and January 2017 meeting notes were posted. Portela highlighted some items and noted there seems to be movement on appointments.   

C. ASC Update (Holmes) The ASC Public Policy committee is monitoring transition events. CNCS does not have a “transition landing team” and is looking for ways to connect with the new administration’s representatives. Committee members have assessed the new Congressional assignments to key oversight and appropriations subcommittees that impact national service. There is concern about the Continuing Resolution and the new director of OMB.

D. Grant Selection and Performance (Wihry) The task force was extremely busy straight through the holidays. It has recommendations for new AmeriCorps proposals to forward to the national competition and recommendations on funding for continuation applications from AmeriCorps programs. Summaries of the applications were posted with the meeting agenda. Each program will be covered by a motion beginning with the new applications.

First Applicant:           University of Southern Maine as fiscal agent for Maine Campus Compact.  
Name of program:      Maine Partnership for Environmental Stewardship  
Grant type:                 Cost reimbursement

Wihry MOVED that the University of Southern Maine/Maine Campus Compact application be included in the Maine package of proposals submitted to the CNCS national competition and the Commission support funding at the requested level of not more than $177,893 CNCS Share, to be matched by at least $89,851 in local funds, supporting 13.09 MSYs member service years distributed over 38 slots. The approved cost per member service year is $13,590 which is $240 below the 2017 CNCS allowed amount of $13,830 for new applicants. SECOND by Barrett. In discussion it was noted this is the third consecutive application from Maine Campus Compact and, this time, it is evident they paid close attention to the feedback from prior attempts. VOTE on motion: 11 in favor; 0 against; 1 abstention (Branham). Motion passed.

Second Applicant: Eastern Maine Development Corporation  
Name of program: Northern Maine AmeriCorps Collaborative
Grant type:  Cost reimbursement

Wihry MOVED that the Eastern Maine Development Corporation application be included in the Maine package of proposals submitted to the CNCS national competition and the Commission support funding at the requested level of not more than $140,273 CNCS Share, to be matched by at least $209,946 in local funds, supporting 10.2 MSYs member service years distributed over 38 slots. The approved cost per member service year is $13,812 which is $18 below the 2017 CNCS allowed amount of $13,830 for new applicants. SECOND by Holmes. VOTE on motion: unanimous in favor.

 Continuation Applicant: LearningWorks 
Name of program:      LearningWorks AIMS High
Continuation year:     2 
Grant type:  Cost reimbursement 
Task force recommendation: Approve continuation proposal including the change in geographic focus and budget with the following requirements –

  1. Ensuring students reported in performance measures are only counted once.
  2. Reporting to the Grants Task Force on the number of participating students in the program and the number of student fall assessment results collected as baseline for progress.

Wihry MOVED that LearningWorks, AIMS High AmeriCorps program be recommended to CNCS for funding at the requested level of not more than $497,646 CNCS Share, to be matched by at least $400,290 in local funds, supporting 36.28 member service years distributed over 100 slots with compliance conditions. The approved cost per member service year is $13,717. SECOND by Young. VOTE on motion: unanimous in favor.

Continuation Applicant: Maine Dept. of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry 
Name of program:      Maine Conservation Corps
Continuation year:     3 
Grant type:  Cost reimbursement 
Task force recommendation:  Approve continuation proposal as proposed. 

Wihry MOVED that Maine Dept. of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry, Maine Conservation Corps program be recommended to CNCS for funding at the requested level of not more than $392,090 CNCS Share, to be matched by at least $1,129,829 in local funds, supporting 35.03 MSYs member service years distributed over 86 slots. The approved cost per member service year is $11,193. SECOND by Young. VOTE on motion: unanimous in favor.


Recognition of peer reviewers. Wihry asked the Commission to show appreciation to the external peer reviewers who did the first phase of work in December. The reviewers were Anna Huston (Vermont), Denise St. Peter, Julie Hashem, and Kirsten Brewer. Barrett MOVED to convey to the volunteer peer reviewers the appreciation of the entire Commission. Second by Rancourt. Vote on the motion: unanimous in favor.

Portela thanked the members of the task force for their work over the holidays. The timing is unavoidable and the volume of work is substantial. Their commitment to the review is appreciated by the Commission.

E. Excellence and Expertise (Wentworth). Task force notes were distributed. The group is focused on sorting through some issues with Service Enterprise and better understanding what seems to be three categories of organizations that engage in the process. The task force is also looking to develop a communication piece that explains to the public the continuum and relationship between the online course, Service Enterprise, and the state volunteer service conference.

F. Public Information and Education/Public Policy (Gardner) The reports from December 2016 and January 2017 meetings were posted. Gardner reviewed some highlights. The task force still needs a chair. 

G. CNCS Regional Office update (Hite) With the departure of appointed leadership, there are changes in Washington assignments. Mikel Herrington will serve as interim chief of staff and Mal Coles (Atlantic field office manager) will step in to be acting director for Senior Corps. Hite also announced CNCS will open a new Senoir Coprs competition within a few days. It will be an RSVP expansion grant competition with particular emphasis on Franklin, Sagadahoc, Androscoggin, and Oxford counties.

H. MCCS Staff (Crofton/Ashmore) CNCS posted anticipated funding competitions and among them is the Volunteer Generation Fund. It is scheduled to open in February 2017. The Commission is eligible to apply and it is a competition that only occurs every three years.

MCCS continues to convene the Service Enterprise Trainer Network each month. The members just finished providing feedback on draft pages for VolunteerMaine.org that explain Service Enterprise. They will be working on an update of the cost model for Service Enterprise this spring. Michael noted the training for Midcoast is starting next week.

Commissioners thanked Kirsten Brewer for her contributions to the outreach and communication tools. Kirsten is starting a full-time job with Kennebec Land Trust and will be focusing her energy on that.

Ashmore gave a quick overview of a newly created/announced CNCS program, AmeriCorps Affiliates. It is unlike the usual AmeriCorps programming in several ways: the minimum age is 14; service terms include one for 100 hours; education awards are not transferable if earned by older adults; background checks are not required; and there is no funding, only authorization of education awards. The program seems to be combining several pieces of the Serve America Act that had not been implemented (Silver Scholars, Summer of Service).  If Commissioners are interested, Michael has an overview.

Business Wrap Up      
The chair reminded everyone the next meeting is March 17, 2017. There being no other business, the meeting adjourned at 12:14 pm.