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Commission Minutes

June 15, 2018

Present: Commissioners John Portela, Brianna Tibbetts, Peter Doak, Libby Hite, Maria Staples, Ed Barrett, Carol Rancourt, Jamie Logan, Trevor Hustus, David Burns, Celeste Branham, David Wihry
Staff Members: Maryalice Crofton, Cecily Cook, Laurel Bernier

Public Comment Period: Six members of the public offered brief remarks. They were Joely Ross from Goodwill's AmeriCorps programs; Sara Knowles of Maine Conservation Corps; Pender Makin from Brunswick School District, Jill Ducharme from Axiom, and Jody Jones and Andy Bezon from MidCoast Conservancy

Call to Order: Commission Chair John Portela called the meeting to order at 10:15am.

1. Two new Commissioners, Maria Staples and Peter Doak, were sworn in by Commission Chair. A third new Commissioner, Trevor Hustus, who had already been sworn in, was also welcomed to the Commission.

2. Quiz Answer: The quiz this month focused on the CNCS Transformation and Stability Plan. Ed submitted the correct answers to the question, "Which of the goals outlined are most likely to impact state commissions?". His answer was 3+4.

3. Announcements and Appreciations
Two Commissioners are retiring from their posts: Carol Rancourt and David Wihry. They were thanked for their service and each presented with a gift.

Planning and Future Initiatives
A. Final Action on new Strategic Plan and Identity Statement (Rancourt, Portela, Wihry)
1. Public comment received and recommendations (Wihry)
Public comments were received from four individuals between May 25 - June 12. These were reviewed and presented for discussion. No discussion followed.

2. Present Identity Statement for adoption (Portela)
A description of the revision process for the Identity Statement was provided. It is to serve as MCCS's internal roadmap. Commissioner Ed Barrett stated that it is the clearest statement of Commission activities he's ever seen and that it is very beneficial. Portela moves to approve the Identity Statement. Vote on motion: Unanimous in favor, 0 opposed, 0 abstentions.

3. Present Strategic Plan for adoption (Rancourt)
Changes presented by Commissioners during May's Business Meeting have been incorporated and were included in the version presented for public comment. 7 Strategic Opportunities have been distilled to 4 that closely align with the Identity Statement. These are actionable items that have measurable outcomes. Branham moves to approve the Strategic Plan; Hustus seconds. Discussion follows that results in the motion's maker and seconder to make a friendly amendment to remove the specific locations of "Syracuse" and "University of New Haven" from the wording. Vote on the amended motion: Unanimous in favor, 0 opposed, 0 abstentions.

B. Release of CNCS Transformation and Sustainability Plan (Crofton)
1. Implications for State Commissions and input session this summer
The Federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is requiring Federal agencies to develop new plans under the new administration. CNCS produced theirs last week, which outlines a restructuring of the organization into regional offices instead of state offices. There 3 items that will affect state commissions the most:
- Funding priorities: There is a question as to whether states will still be able to set their own priorities in addition to the Federal priorities, or if they will be restricted to just the Federal list.
- Streamlining/Simplifying the application process: There will be a single point of entry that may not go through the state. Libby clarifies that the plan is to have the single point of entry be Washington DC, which will handle pre-award processes. Regional offices will then handle post-award activities. The rest of the program activities will then be passed on to the states. 
- Simplifying brand: AmeriCorps and Senior Corps may be merged into a single entity.
Change will happen quickly: Now: Broad Language > Summer: Implementation Plan > Fall: Action
In Boston on August 2 there is a listening session the Maryalice is planning to attend and anyone else is welcome to join.

Business Reports
A. Business Meeting Minutes
1. March meeting
 (Portela)
Barrett moves to approve the minutes. Branham seconds. Vote on the motion: Unanimous in favor, 0 abstentions, 0 opposed.

2. April meeting
No official business was conducted in April due to a lack of a quorum. Barrett makes motion to approve minutes. Branham seconds. Vote on the motion: 9 in favor, 1 abstention (Logan), 0 opposed.

B. Executive Committee (Portela)
1. Respond to questions about May or June meeting minutes
No discussion.

2. Consideration of updated motion authorizing action by Executive Committee (tabled motion; updated wording in May Executive meeting notes)
The language has been finalized. Motion to approve made by Branham. Tibbetts seconds. Brief discussion follows about where the voting occurs and if three days is a realistic timeframe to schedule an in-person meeting. Vote on the motion: Unanimous in favor, 0 abstentions, 0 opposed.

C. Grant Selection and Performance (Barrett)
1. Act on recommendations for awarding AmeriCorps Formula funds. Reports on all proposals are under "Reports" tab of HQ.
-- New Rural State

- Brunswick School Department: The Grant Task Force recommends approving the award of positions and funding with these conditions:

  • Resolve SAM registration and DUNS registration. Our checking revealed the district has multiple DUNS and SAM registrations. The DUNS used on this application is not in SAM.
  • Clarify with applicant that slots should be 1700 hours rather than the new 1200 hour slot for schools.
  • Correct budget issues listed in the full report from the task force.
  • Develop and add logic model, targets for member development performance measures, and add capacity building performance measures which were omitted.
  • Substitute a current national performance measure for the deleted measure. CNCS eliminated use of the Outcome Measure this applicant selected.
  • The applicant did not address the RFP’s request for information on what work has been done with senior leadership to prepare the way for Service Enterprise. This point should be addressed to ensure district is going to fulfill this requirement.

Barrett moves that the Brunswick School Department’s AmeriCorps proposal be awarded a 3-year grant with the first year of funding set at $73,798 Federal Share, to be matched by at least $59,446 in local funds, supporting 5 member service years distributed over 5 slots. The proposed cost per member service year is $14,760. Branham seconds. Vote on the motion: Unanimous in favor, 0 abstentions, 0 opposed.

- Trekkers, Inc.: The Grant Task Force recommends approving the award of positions and funding with these conditions:

  • Budget corrections on expense lines and source of funds are made.
  • The applicant agrees to upgrading financial systems to meet federal funds requirements

Barrett moves that Trekkers' AmeriCorps proposal be awarded a 3-year grant with the first year of funding set at $29,864 Federal Share, to be matched by at least $33,901 in local funds, supporting 2 member service years distributed over 2 slots. The proposed cost per member service year is $14,932. Branham seconds. Vote on the motion: Unanimous in favor, 0 abstentions, 0 opposed.

- Midcoast Conservancy: The Grant Task Force recommends approving the award of positions and funding with these conditions:

  • Correct and clarify budget items: expense of background checks is not in budget; indirect is not calculated correctly.; 2 formulas (1 under staff travel and 1 under supplies) need correction.
  • Source of funds listed as revenue does not equal total of Grantee Share expenses. Narrative says organization has pending applications but they are not referenced in budget section for source of funds.
  • Applicants to this RFP were directed to include “AmeriCorps” in their project name. Midcoast did not so it will need to correct this.

Barrett moves that the Midcoast Conservancy AmeriCorps proposal be awarded a 3-year grant with the first year of funding set at $53,673 Federal Share, to be matched by at least $121,184 in local funds, supporting 4 member service years distributed over 4 slots. The proposed cost per member service year is $13,418. Branham seconds the motion. Vote on the motion: Unanimous in favor, 0 abstentions, 0 opposed.

- Colby College: The Grant Task Force recommends approving the award of positions and funding with these conditions:

  • Remove placement at United Way of MidMaine
  • Correct budget issues detailed in the full report from the task force

Barrett moves that Colby College’s AmeriCorps proposal be awarded a 3-year grant with the first year of funding set at $29,828 Federal Share, to be matched by at least $53,028 in local funds, supporting 2 member service years distributed over 2 slots. The proposed cost per member service year is $14,914. Branham seconds. Discussion follows on the challenges the Task Force encountered with this proposal mainly questioning the need of a private college for these grant funds. With this question aside, the program design is solid and it is a good application. Vote on the motion: 8 in favor, 1 abstention (Staples), 1 opposed (Doak).

-- Continuation of AmeriCorps Standard Grant

- Eastern Maine Development Corporation (EMDC): The Grant Task Force recommends approving the award of positions and funding with these conditions:

  • The grantee increases the staff support for operation of the program. The current level relies on a single person to recruit and manage 38 AmeriCorps members as well as handle all site relations, administrative and reporting requirements.

Barrett moves that the Eastern Maine Development Corporation AmeriCorps program be funded for year 2 of the 3-year grant at the requested level of $116,796 Federal Share, to be matched by at least $174,995 in local funds, supporting 9.86 member service years distributed over 38 slots. The proposed cost per member service year is $11,610. Branham seconds the motion. Vote on the motion: Unanimous in favor, 0 abstentions, 0 opposed.

-- New AmeriCorps Standard proposals

- RSU #14: This is the organization's third (and final) application for this 3-year grant. The Grant Task Force has questioned RSU 14's commitment to the program and adequacy of staffing. A letter from the current Program Director is read and the corrective action plan is reviewed. As recorded in the task force meeting notes, the applicant needed to meet some conditions before this recommendation would be presented to the Commission. As of this morning (June 18),

  • The district administration has confirmed in writing that it supports the application and the funds pledged from the school budget will be provided to the program.
  • There is a new program director with a compliant National Service Criminal History background check. Rich Meserve moved into that role on June 8 and met the task force deadline of “within 8 hours” of their meeting.
  • The new program director submitted a corrective action plan on June 14 with a timeline that has all corrections made by June 25 which is before the Commission deadline for submitting its funding decisions to the Corporation for National and Community Service. It is understood that the new program, even if approved for funding, will not be part of the portfolio submitted if corrections are not made.
  • There is one more staff person dedicated to the program in addition to the director. Craig Haims, former director of this program from 2012-2015, has been hired and is working with Rich Meserve as of June 11.

Based on the responsiveness to Commission requirements and the changes in the program proposed in the application, the Task Force recommends approving funding of the RSU 14 Windham Raymond AmeriCorps program with these additional conditions:

  • Budget issues must be corrected.
  • Applicant needs to confirm its commitment to better volunteer management. This is the 6th year of operation for the program and yet only 2 essential volunteer management practices are reported as implemented in the program. Another 25% are not used at all and the remaining are only partially implemented.

Barrett moves that the RSU #14 AmeriCorps proposal be awarded a 3-year grant with the first year of funding set at $151,741 Federal Share, to be matched by at least $189,877 in local funds, supporting 10.17 member service years distributed over 22 slots. The proposed cost per member service year is $14,920. Branham seconds the motion. Vote on the motion: 8 in favor, 1 abstention (Staples), 1 opposed (Doak).

- Axiom Education and Training: The Grant Task Force recommends approving the award of positions and funding with these conditions:

  • Project needs to be scaled back but maintain locating a pair of AmeriCorps members in one county.
  • Locations of members needs detail: which libraries, which offices on campuses, who will be on-site member support
  • Supervision needs clarification and better detail. If supervisors are half-time, how many members do they support? Is half-time a portion of the person’s full-time job? Qualifications?
  • Source of funds does not identify which sources are anticipated and which are confirmed. This needs correction.
  • Budget corrections listed in the full report are made.
  • The applicant corrects the logic model and enters required performance measures.

Barrett moves that Axiom Education and Training's AmeriCorps proposal be awarded a 3-year grant with the first year of funding set at $233,168 Federal Share, to be matched by at least $738,365 in local funds, supporting 16 member service years distributed over 16 slots. The proposed cost per member service year is $14,932. Tibbetts seconds the motion. Vote on the motion: 9 in favor, 1 abstention (Branham), 0 opposed.

Thank you to everyone involved in the review process, including the six peer reviewers.

D. Excellence and Expertise (Hite)
1. Meeting Notes Posted
Two primary pieces of business accomplished: finalizing the Service Enterprise Trainer MOU and the Service Enterprise Trainer position description.

E. Public Information and Education/Public Policy (Rancourt)
1. Update

No report.

F. CNCS Regional Office update (Hite)
Please share opinions and perspectives on the Transformation and Stability Plan either electronically or in person at the Boston listening session.

On June 30 MaineGeneral RSVP Program grant ends. There are several other organizations interested in applying for the spot, so that region won't go un-served for very long.

University of Maine's Senior Corps program's mental health first aid project is receiving augmentation in funding.

G. MCCS Staff
1. Office events
 (Crofton)
Next week office is moving to the Elkins Building on the AMHI Campus. Staff will be disconnected from phone and internet Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

At the end of August the auditing firm will be arriving. The OIG has told staff that the firm performing the audit will be RSU US.

2. Report on June 4-7 state commission disaster service convening
Last week Mike traveled to Vicksberg, Mississippi to participate in the training. MCCS is part of the State Emergency Response Plan with MEMA. The Commission's role is to manage spontaneous volunteers who deploy during disaster response. AmeriCorps members are set up to serve vulnerable populations because before they start their service they must have background checks conducted.

3. Other
a. Embargoed Grant Decisions
There are four agencies in Maine who have received funding through CNCS. This will bring the total number of AmeriCorps grantees to 11-12 next year.

Focus on Mission/Responsibilities
A. Commission Retreat (Portela)
On Sept. 20 and 21 will be the annual retreat in conjunction with the regular business meeting, occurring after the July and August break. During the retreat Commissioners will discuss the steps to launch the Strategic Plan.

Business Wrap Up
A. National Service Staff annual recognition (Portela)
John presented certificates to all Maine's National Service Program staff before adjourning to the working lunch roundtables.

Next business meeting will not be until September 20+21, 2018
Meeting adjourned at 12:27pm.