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Commission Minutes

January 18, 2019

PRESENT: Jonathan Barczyk, Celeste Branham, Ed Barrett, Elizabeth Hite, Jamie Logan, Anita Stewart McAfferty, Nicole Pellenz, John Portela, Joe Schmidt, Joe Young, Maria Staples, Jenifer Tilton-Flood 

The Commission met in Room 110 at 19 Elkins Lane, Augusta (Commission office location). 

Public Comment. During public comment, the VISTA manager for Maine noted he would welcome placement suggestions from Commission members. Others in attendance introduced themselves including the newly hired Commission Grant Officer, Jamie McFaul. 

The meeting was called to order at 10:04 am by Commission Chair, Celeste Branham. After Commissioner introductions, Maria Staples and Ed Barrett were congratulated for correct answers on the Commissioner quiz. Next Chair Branham covered announcements. 

First item was a summary of the January 5 Day of Service. The Commission was asked by Gov. Mills’ inauguration committee to help organize a day of service as part of the events. In just four weeks, MCCS pulled together 54 projects around the state and managed to get one in each county. A number of Commissioners participated including the chair who had a chance to serve with Governor Mills at Good Shepherd Food Bank. Executive Committee members recommend Commissioners present join them in thanking Governor Mills for recognizing the importance of civic engagement and its link to community. A letter of appreciation is being circulated during the meeting so members can add their signatures. 

In December, the Executive Committee learned that Senator Collins has been selected to receive a Friend of National Service award from Voices of National Service. The presentation will be made at a national celebration on February 12 in Washington. After discussion with Exec Committee, the chair sent a letter of congratulations to Senator Collins. 

There were no additions or deletions to the agenda. 

Focus on Mission Responsibilities  
Briefing on Commission Budget and Funding Sources (Crofton)
Executive Director Crofton briefed the Commission members on sources of funding and the financial operation of the Commission. This briefing was held over from the October meeting. The discussion focused on those financial activities that do not involve pass-through grant funds but cover the business operations. The budget for 2019 was used as the working example for this presentation. 

Business Reports  
October Minutes (Branham) 
The minutes had been posted for review. Moved by Pellenz to accept the minutes as posted. Second by Young. Vote on the motion: Unanimous in favor. No abstentions.

Executive Committee (Branham)
Meeting notes for the regular November, December, and January were posted. No clarifications were requested. The special meeting on November 9 reviewed the proposed budget for 2019 and authorized submitting it to CNCS. 

Grant Selection and Performance (Barrett, Barczyk)
Barrett explained the task force and external peer reviewers worked from mid-November through New Years on three sets of AmeriCorps reviews: continuations of AmeriCorps Competitive grants to Healthy Acadia, Maine Conservation Corps, USM/Maine Campus Compact; new application for AmeriCorps Competitive grant from LearningWorks; and new Maine Rural AmeriCorps grants from Maine Youth Alliance, MSAD #70, Seeds of Hope Neighborhood Center, and Main Street Skowhegan. The task force met just 72 hours ago and finalized its funding recommendations for action today. 

The first set of recommendations presented concerned continuations. 

  1. USM/Maine Campus Compact for year 3: Motion by Barrett that the Maine Campus Compact AmeriCorps program be submitted to the Corporation for National and Community Service with a recommendation it be funded at the requested level of not more than $177,893 Federal Share, to be matched by at least $98,851 in local funds, supporting 13.09 member service years distributed over 38 slots. The proposed cost per member service year is $13,590. Second by Portela. Vote on the motion: unanimous in favor. 
  1. Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry/Maine Conservation Corps for year 2: Motion by Barrett that the Maine Conservation Corps AmeriCorps program be submitted to the Corporation for National and Community Service with a recommendation it be funded at the requested level of not more than $669,829 Federal Share supporting 49.16 member service years distributed over 109 slots. The proposed cost per member service year is $13,625. Second by Pellenz. Vote on the motion: unanimous in favor. 
  1. Healthy Acadia for year 2: Motion by Barrett that the Maine Conservation Corps AmeriCorps program be submitted to the Corporation for National and Community Service with a recommendation it be funded at the requested level of not more than $283,768 Federal Share, to be matched by at least $376,719 in local funds, supporting 20.54 member service years distributed over 30 slots. The proposed cost per member service year is $13,815. Second by Young. Vote on the motion: unanimous in favor. 

Next the recommendations on new Maine Rural AmeriCorps grants were presented for action.

  1. Seeds of Hope Neighborhood Center: Motion by Barrett that the Seeds of Hope Neighborhood Center AmeriCorps proposal be awarded a 3-year grant contingent on the applicant making corrections and clarifications, with the first year of funding set at $29,864 Federal Share, to be matched by at least $20,624 in local funds, supporting 2 member service years distributed over 2 slots. The proposed cost per member service year is $14,932. Second by Young. Vote on the motion: Unanimous in favor. 
  1. MSDA 70: Motion by Barrett that the MSAD 70’s AmeriCorps proposal be awarded a 3-year grant contingent on the applicant making corrections and clarifications, with the first year of funding set at $34,167 Federal Share, to be matched by at least $19,798 in local funds, supporting 2.1 member service years distributed over 3 slots. The proposed cost per member service year can be no more than $14,962. Second by Portela. Vote on the motion: 9 in favor; 0 opposed; 1 abstention (Staples). 
  1. Maine Youth Alliance: Motion by Barrett that the Maine Youth Alliance AmeriCorps proposal be awarded a 3-year grant contingent on the applicant making corrections and clarifications, with the first year of funding set at $29,142 Federal Share, to be matched by at least $32,402 in local funds, supporting 2 member service years distributed over 2 slots. The proposed cost per member service year is $14,571. Second by Pellenz. Vote on the motion: 9 in favor; 0 opposed; 1 abstention (Staples). 
  1. Main Street Skowhegan: Motion by Barrett that Main Street Skowhegan’s AmeriCorps proposal be awarded a 3-year grant contingent on the applicant making corrections and clarifications, with the first year of funding set at $30,745 Federal Share, to be matched by at least $57,409 in local funds, supporting 2 member service years distributed over 2 slots. The proposed cost per member service year may not be more than $14,932. Second by Pellenz. Vote on the motion: unanimous in favor. 

Third recommendation for Commission action related to the new AmeriCorps Competitive proposal. If supported, the proposal would move forward to the national competition. Only one application was received in this open competition.

LearningWorks: Motion by Barczyk that the LearningWorks’ AmeriCorps proposal be submitted to the Corporation for National and Community Service’s national AmeriCorps competition with a Commission recommendation for funding of not more than $286,338 Federal Share, to be matched by at least $390,746 in local funds, supporting 19.93 member service years distributed over 56 slots. The proposed cost per member service year is $14,367. Second by Barrett. Vote on the motion: 9 in favor; 0 opposed; 1 abstention (Logan). 

Barczyk explained that the grant selection process is a joint effort of volunteer peer reviewers and the Commissioners on the Grant Selection and Performance Task Force. On behalf of the task force members, he asked the full Commission to express its appreciation to the peer reviewers for their work during December. 

The reviewers were
AmeriCorps State Competitive

  • Jan Kearce, Maine Development Foundation
  • Cynthia Adamsky, Town of Wells

Maine Rural AmeriCorps Grants

  • Jennifer Trowbridge, Ellsworth
  • Ron Holmes, Maine Volunteer Foundation/Jacobs Engineering Group
  • Michael Moran, Council on International Education Exchange/AmeriCorps Alum
  • Amanda Larson, Maine Masonic Charitable Foundation

Motion by Barczyk to have the Executive Director convey the deep appreciation to the six named peer reviewers for contributing their time and talent to selection of Maine AmeriCorps grantees. Second by Tilton-Flood. Vote on the motion: Unanimous in favor. 

The final item on the Grant report was the announcement that the Brunswick School District declined the AmeriCorps grant. It was about to start implementation when the two leaders were recruited for state level positions. The program director is now the nominee for Commissioner of Education and the assistant director is Chief of Staff at the Department of Education. The school district realized it needed to address the multiple leadership holes these changes caused before taking on AmeriCorps. The task force will consider alternate allocations of the funds at its February meeting. 

Excellence and Expertise (TBD)
No report. 

National Public Policy Committees of states
States for Service (Portela). John will represent Maine on the group. He has not received orientation yet but will have a report for next meeting.

America's Service Commissions (Crofton). The Public Policy committee has been monitoring the changes underway related to the CNCS reform and reorganization. It also has drafted a letter to the administration concerning CNCS support in the next budget. Everyone realizes nothing will happen until the current stalemate is resolved. 

Public Information and Education/Public Policy (Logan)
Meeting notes for December were posted. The task force also met this month. It has started planning for National Service Program meetings with Members of Congress and is investigating the best sites. The letter to new state legislators has been mailed. The group is restarting the discussion of introducing the new commission brand – what that means, when, etc. As follow up to the day of service, an op ed was drafted for Commissioner use. Members can add details from projects in their area and submit to a local paper. The Commission video is in its final editing phase.

Financial Oversight.  
Members were unable to attend. The proposed mission/charge for the task force is in their minutes. Please review and provide feedback to chair, David Burns.

CNCS Update.  
Hite announced there is new leadership at the regional office in Concord, NH. The former director retired and Susan Cheesman was appointed acting director. Because all 48 field offices are slated for closing as the agency consolidates to 8 regional offices, the position will not be filled. The new field office for New England and New York will be in Manchester NH. The positions in the new offices are different. Existing staff will be notified of layoff and have to apply for new positions. The change starts in May. The new office for the Northeast is to be in place by fall.

Hite shared examples of new Senior Corps outreach materials. She also brought county-based profiles of national service and offered to produce reports for anyone interested. She also distributed the current list of VISTA sites in Maine and reminded members that it is a dynamic list because the program is constantly adding and moving host sites. 

CNCS is close to announcing the new sponsor of RSVP in Central Maine. The new award is the result of a competition held following the end of MaineGeneral’s sponsorship of the program. 

The day of National Service recognition by local and state public officials will again be the first Tuesday of April (4/2). It is not clear who will organize it given the restructuring. 

Planning and Future Initiatives  
Maine Service Fellows.  
The task force working on development of the Maine Service Fellows program brought its work to the Commission. Hite is chair and reviewed the design. The task force has two questions that for which it would like direction from the Commission. First relates to whether the program is responding primarily to community needs in terms of the service projects Fellows undertake; or, is it focused on the Commission identified priorities that emerged in planning. The second question is dependent on the answer to the first. It is whether the Commission priorities should be interpreted narrowly or broadly. Example, can aging-in-place include transportation programming or does transportation need to remain listed independently. 

During the discussion that followed two more questions emerged. First asked for the definition of community – a single municipality or a contiguous group of towns? The second requested an explanation of the regional networks mentioned as part of a Fellows’ capacity building work. 

There was a rich discussion about community-driven versus focused priorities. The task force will consider the feedback in developing the final design. It was clarified that community could be a set of towns working together. The network development would entail connecting organizations and programs that engage volunteers. The volunteer network would seek to help the organizations coordinate, share information, and learn together. 

The Commissioners were briefed on a general fund budget development. Crofton learned of an opportunity to request funding for coordination of Maine Service Fellows but the time to submit was very short (just 8 hours). A proposal was developed, submitted, and added to the budget request through the Dept. of Education budget. 

Staff Reports.  
Staff vacancies. The new Grant Officer starts January 22. A secretary from a temp agency starts on January 23. Filling the secretary position on a permanent basis will happen eventually. 

The Maine Volunteer Foundation added two new board members and a founding member retired. Lisa Laflin and Becky Hayes Boober are the new members. Patti Foden is the person who stepped down. 

The OIG audit exit conference with the firm representing the OIG was expected to occur in January. It has not and there has been no communication about it. This appears to be a waiting phase. 

Ashmore explained the Commission role in the state emergency response plan. The Commission is part of the donations and volunteer management portion of the plan. If there is an emergency, MCCS is charged with managing unaffiliated (sometimes called “spontaneous”) volunteers through either physical volunteer reception centers or virtual centers relying on the internet. Staff also have a support role in terms of assisting the other half of the team – the Maine Emergency Management people responsible for handling supply and monetary donations. 

Business Wrap Up  
The briefing on Service Enterprise moved from being part of the agenda to a brown bag lunch session immediately after adjournment. 

The chair asked members to take multiple copies of the new Commission identity card and National Service Directory so they have materials to share when asked.