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Commission Minutes

March 22, 2017

March 17, 2017

Present: Ed Barrett, Celeste Branham, Mandela Gardner, Elizabeth Hite, Nicole Pellenz, John Portela, Barb Wentworth

Public Comment Period: Joley Ross, from Goodwill, introduced herself and Jen Craven’s replacement, Jessica White. Jo Oralndo spoke about MCC and highlighted that they’re actively recruiting for positions starting May. MCC also moved to a new location in Augusta at 55 Independence Drive.

Call to Order. Commission Chair Portela called the meeting to order at 10:10am. He welcomed and introduced former Senator David Burns, a commissioner candidate. Stefanie Mojonnier was also present to facilitate a portion of the meeting. The Commission Quiz had 2 correct answers from Ed and Nicole.

Focus on Mission/Responsibilities

A. State Service Commissions’ views of federal budgets (Crofton) Maryalice discussed the President’s proposed budget cuts to National Service programs, which would go into effect for FY18. She highlighted than many different people from all political parties have expressed opposition to the budget and the general consensus is that National Service is expected to survive. There is a group organizing opportunities for input. There may be no announcement on the Federal level and no updates until June. The final budget will likely be approved in October. Right now there are national conversations on how to improve efficiencies in order to lower costs.

Planning and Future Initiatives

A. Phase One: Commissioner discussion of rebranding issue raised at summer 2016 retreat (Mojonnier) John introduced the topic, reviewing the outcomes during the retreat. Stefanie then began her presentation, highlighting the definition, perception, and promise of “brand”. The commissioners then broke up in to 2 groups of 4 to answer 3 questions: 1) What reaction do they get when mentioning MCCS? 2) What is MCCS’s specialty/uniqueness? 3) What are 3 things that you would want the MCCS brand to convey? The results of this activity will be funneled into the PIE taskforce to give them a direction to move in.

B. Commission Hosting of National Service Program Staff in April (Portela) Combined with the next Commission business meeting on April 21 will be the annual luncheon honoring National Service. This is happening in conjunction with National Service Week. The event, and business meeting, will be taking place in a different location for the occasion, at Cross Office Building 103. Maryalice requested that by Monday (3/20) each Commission member choose an organization to invite and send out invitation for the event.

C. New Report: Profile of 5 years of AmeriCorps Members “From away” who stayed after service term ended (Cook) Cecily provided handouts of the report to the commissioners and gave a summary of each slide. The publication is online. The Commission wants to highlight what a draw AmeriCorps is, bringing young people in to the State of Maine. A question was raised about how grantees might be able to encourage more to stay and how to bring in even higher numbers. One aspect that might be attractive to young people is that the cost of living is lower than other places, i.e. Boston. Libby also brought up looking in to ways for employers to promote hiring of AmeriCorps members – maybe mentioning in on websites or applications.

Business Reports (Reports submitted are posted.)

A. January Minutes. A quorum is not present so no voting can take place. This item will be added to the next agenda. Those present were asked if there were corrections needed and none were offered.

B. Grant Selection and Performance (Barrett)  
As required by regulation, AmeriCorps applications submitted by national nonprofits directly to CNCS are reviewed by the State Commissions where they intend to operate. MCCS has a policy on how the CNCS ratings will be applied. Ed explained the National Direct Ratings are support; do not support; or neutral. The task force supported all 6 grant applicants sent to Maine for comment because their work aligns with Commission funding priorities.

One of the formula programs has notified the Commission it will not complete the three-year grant. This creates an opportunity to conduct an off-cycle AmeriCorps formula competition using the new Maine Rural AmeriCorps model. It is intended to be an entry point for new organizations now that planning grants are not options at the state level. The formula dollars can support 2-5 positions at each organization. The application process will be simplified to the extent possible and grants will only be for two years rather than three. The task force endorsed running the competition this spring.

Due to a change in membership and schedules, the task force is reassessing its regularly scheduled meeting time. 

C. Executive Committee (Portela)
Notes from the February and March meetings were reviewed. Members are exploring options for facilitators and plan to meet with an expert early in April.

There was an update on the status of appointments. A change in the Commissioner of Education's designee was announced. Beth Lambert will succeed Deb Plowman. 

It was noted that Executive Committee decided to be a partner with our sister organization, the Maine Volunteer Foundation, on a grant proposal to the Maine Community Foundation. MVF developed a capacity building application that would support its own goals plus underwrite engaging a facilitator for a joint strategic planning process (MVF and MCCS). MVF should know by June if the proposal is selected for funding.

 D. ASC Update (Portela)
Reviewed the annual national winter meeting of state commissions held in Alexandria earlier this month. Aside from all the discussion of national policy and program issues, there are three things of particular interest to MCCS. ASC is looking to develop a related membership organization that would represent State Commissions on "the Hill." Several types of membership categories are proposed and the most reasonable for MCCS would be an organizational one. Dues could not be paid from any current operating funds so Commissioners would have to chip in. Second item of interest was from Michigan which has handed off its governors award program to its foundation so it can be developed as a fundraiser. The MCCS liaison to MVF will be asked to discuss this with that organization. The third item is the Utah commission model for using Volunteer Generation Funds to strengthen its volunteer sector. They have linked volunteer management training and Service Enterprise and several other efforts while moving away from developing volunteer centers which were not sustainable. The Utah executive director has offered to connect with Excellence and Expertise to discuss what they are doing.

E. Excellence and Expertise (Wentworth)
Barbara summarized the topics covered in the last meeting: 1) Service Enterprise, developing a 1-pager info sheet to increase awareness; 2) Professional development; 3) Conference. Through these things the task force would like to increase opportunities to inform audiences.

F. Public Information and Education/Public Policy (Crofton in the absence of chair)
The major work this month was helping Stefanie plan the work session on branding that took place earlier in this agenda. They also discussed the meeting between national service programs and Senator Collins staff which is slated for March 30. On behalf of Excellence and Expertise, Rob asked for feedback on an outreach brochure that would tie all three volunteer management efforts together. 

G. CNCS Regional Office Update (Hite) Libby also touched upon the proposed budget cuts, highlighting what we can do to make sure National Service remains in the budget. The regional office is taking action to tell stories about subjects that are likely to appeal to the President’s administration, including workforce development, serving rural communities, veterans, and disaster response. Upcoming Senior Corps week in additional to National Service Week will provide good opportunities to increase awareness. Also, the Goodwill VISTA partnership is recruiting for 30 summer associates slots. 

H. MCCS Staff (Crofton/Ashmore)  
1. AmeriCorps opioid and prescription drug abuse proposal due May 10 -- Michael explained that everything is ready to go, including the application model, etc., but that there is a considerable fiscal obstacle slowing progress. The program requires $100,000 cash in order to provide adequate staffing, training to AC members serving as recovery coaches, cover unfunded portion of AC member support, and so on. Recovery organizations in Maine face challenges related to funding and human capital – only 2 in the whole state are staffed full time. So far, there is no money in the recovery system for this issue. There are backup plans for smaller operations if Plan A doesn’t succeed.

2. Governor Service Awards – Commissioners were invited to represent MCCS at the upcoming events. Young Maine Volunteer Roll of Honor basketball game, 12pm at Portland Expo; Monday, April 24, Hall of Flag Individual Awards; April 25, 6pm, Portland Sea Dogs game for Adult Roll of Honor, accompanied with ad in BDN. 

3. The next analysis of AmeriCorps Exit Survey data will specifically look at five years of responses about member skill growth/development through service. Maryalice will send out a link with the report when it’s finished.

Business Wrap Up

A. Reminder next business meeting April 21 in Room 103 of the Cross Office Building – different location!

B. Meeting Adjourned at 11:55am