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Commission Minutes

June 26, 2020

Present: Jonathan Barczyk, Ed Barrett, Celeste Branham, Mathison Deering, Jamie Logan, Jessica Nixon, Anne Ostberg, Lisa Phelps, John Portela, Luke Shorty, Maria Staples, Jennifer Tilton-Flood.

Public Comment Period.  No public comments were offered.

Call to Order. Chair Branham called the meeting to order at 10:06 am.  After Commission member introductions, Maryalice introduced the two new summer Interns.  Anthony Inhorn is a Research Associate from Cape Elizabeth and is a student at Northwestern University.  Nathan McIvor is from Jefferson and attends the University of Maine at Farmington. 

Barrett and Phelps had the correct answer to the quiz.  What is the proposed change to alter the value of the Segal Education Award that AmeriCorps member earn - an award is proposed by the corps act for 3 years to double and be twice the value of a Pell Grant up to $14,000 for 1 year service.    

Announcements and Appreciations:  Chair gave her appreciation of the work of the interns, and the grants task force for doing a lot of work in a short time span.

Maryalice reported that the last 10 days have been fraught with serious technology problems.  Among them was the crash of VolunteerMaine.org crashed and cannot be revived. Brian and Nathan moved content to MaineServiceCommission site. Efforts to combine and move our web site onto a modern platform are stalled out by Maine IT review and permission. We are moving to the sole Maine.gov host vendor which should have made things smooth but not so.

Distribution of open letter from Commissioners. Chair reported the letter responding to the recent race and civil rights issues was published sent to all our news subscribers, grantees, and published on the Commission’s news site. A question was asked regarding full Commission participation in Executive Committee discussions. The Chair explained that all commission members are invited to be guests at the executive committee meetings, but only the executive members can vote.

Commission Retreat. Two possible dates: September 24-25 or October 1-2.  Chair asked group to vote via chat. The winning dates were September 24 and 25.

Additions, deletions to the agenda. None were requested. Moved by Shorty to approve the agenda.  Second by Tilton-Flood. Vote on the motion: In favor – Barczyk, Barrett, Deering, Logan, Nixon, Phelps, Shorty, Staples, Tilton-Flood.  Opposed – none. Motion approved.

Consent Agenda. Included in the Consent Agenda were minutes from the May 15 Commission business meeting, the Executive Committee meeting of June 2, the Financial Oversight meeting of May 28, and the Community Task Force of June 17.

Focus on Mission Responsibilities:  
Election of Officers.  The slate below was proposed in May and no other members have requested consideration:

Celeste Branham one year extension as Chair, Jennifer Tilton-Flood for Chair Elect, Jonathan Barczyk for Vice Chair. Tilton-Flood and Barczyk to serve the full 2-year terms. MOVED by Shorty to accept the slate of officers. SECOND by Barrett.  

Shorty asked for clarification as to whether Vice or Chair Elect becomes Chair. Chair Elect will take over in one year. A follow-up question asked if the Vice Chair then moved to Chair Elect automatically. That does not always happen and would be determined when the slate is developed in spring 2021.  

Vote on the motion of the slate of officers: In favor – Barczyk, Barrett, Deering, Nixon, Phelps, Shorty, Staples, Tilton-Flood. Opposed – none. Abstentions – Logan. Motion approved.

Appointments and Reappointments to Commission. There are 12 seats for which new candidates are needed by mid-July (see report under “Background” section of “Reports and Drafts”).  Two of the three candidates that applied last fall have withdrawn and lost interest. Board members with expiring terms should let the chair know if they are seeking reappointment. They will need to submit full set of paperwork. Terms that are expiring are: Doak, Logan, Shorty, and Staples. For new candidates, there are no restrictions since the board has so many vacancies. The chair will have a meeting with appointments officer.  Thinks it is critical to identify the numerous holes in representation and refill slots that are expiring. This administration if very slow to appoint and reappoint commissioners on any board. Staples asked when do the appointments expire? Maryalice said mid-September.

Business Reports

Grant Selection and Performance.  Recommendations and final actions on new AmeriCorps Formula Operating Grants. Barrett presented the following for consideration:

MOVED by Barrett that the Greater Portland Council of Governments proposal be funded for year 1 of the 3-year grant at the requested level of $216,698 Federal Share, to be matched by at least $216,891 in local funds, supporting 14-member service years distributed over 14 slots with the stipulation that corrections and conditions listed in the report are resolved.  The proposed cost per member service year is $15,478.

Second by Barczyk. Vote on the motion: In favor – Barczyk, Barrett, Deering, Logan, Nixon, Phelps, Shorty, Staples, Tilton-Flood.  Opposed – none.  Abstentions – none. Motion approved.

Barrett passed the report presentation to Tilton-Flood as he had a conflict of interest with Maine Development Foundation.  Tilton-Flood presented the following for consideration:

MOVED by Tilton-Flood that the Maine Development Foundation proposal be funded for year 1 of the 3-year grant at the requested level of $77,395 Federal Share, to be matched by at least $99,814 in local funds, supporting 5-member service years distributed over 5 slots with the stipulation that corrections and conditions listed in the report are resolved.  The proposed cost per member service year is $15,479. Second by Barczyk.

Shorty wanted clarification on specification on where and who benefits from service.  MDF proposes to hold a competition among Downtown Center affiliates if funded. That will determine who hosts.  

Vote on the motion: In favor – Barczyk, Barrett, Deering, Logan, Nixon, Phelps, Shorty, Staples, Tilton-Flood.  Opposed – none.  Abstentions – none. Motion approved.

Recommendation and final action on new AmericCorps Formula Planning Grants.  Barrett presented the following for consideration:

MOVED by Barrett that Penquis Community Action Program proposal be awarded a 1-year AmeriCorps Planning grant with funding set at $50,000 for the Federal Share and a grantee share of at least $25,000.  No further correction required.

Second by Tilton-Flood. Vote on the motion: In favor – Barczyk, Barrett, Deering, Logan, Nixon, Phelps, Portela, Shorty, Tilton-Flood.  Opposed – none.  Abstentions – Staples. Motion approved.

MOVED by Barrett that the University of Maine System: UMaine Center on Aging proposal be awarded a 1-year AmeriCorps Planning grant with funding set at $49,971 Federal Share and a grantee share of at least $13,169. No corrections required. Barrett said this is the first proposal ever to score 150 out of 150 points – perfect score, excellent grant.

Second by Shorty. Vote on the motion: In favor – Barczyk, Barrett, Deering, Logan, Nixon, Portela, Shorty, Staples, Tilton-Flood.  Opposed – none.  Abstentions – Phelps. Motion approved.

MOVED by Barrett that the Town of Van Buren for the Van Buren Resiliency Project proposal be awarded a 1-year AmeriCorps Planning grant with funding set at $41,145 Federal Share and no grantee share provided corrections are made prior to federal submission.

Barrett commented that he was impressed by their grassroots nature of the proposal and motivated volunteers. It is an underserved part of the state. Staples said they have been in touch with her and Penquis for collaboration.  She asked if this is a conflict of interest.  Barrett said to abstain. Michael said a dedicated coach will be provided by the commission through technical assistance funds.

Second by Shorty. Vote on the motion: In favor – Barczyk, Barrett, Deering, Logan, Nixon, Phelps, Portela, Shorty, Tilton-Flood.  Opposed – none.  Abstentions – Staples. Motion approved.

Barrett wanted to thank all the reviewers and peer reviewers.  This is intense, took weekends, appreciates everyone’s work. The volunteer peer reviewers for this competition were Madelyn Hennessey, Anthony Inhorn, Luke Shorty, Celeste Branham, Jennifer Trowbridge, Bethany Tatro, Molly Siegel, and Chris Wolff.

MOVED by Barrett to thank all the reviewers.  Second by Portela. Vote on resolution: In favor – Barczyk, Barrett, Deering, Nixon, Phelps, Portela, Staples, Tilton-Flood.  Opposed – none.  Abstentions – Shorty. Resolution approved.

Barrett reported that several programs dropped off during the last year, we basically used up all the grant funds that we might have lost. Chair thanked Barrett and expressed gratitude for leadership.  Barrett mentions that Jamie did a great job pulling this all together and getting the information on the HUB and appreciated all her hard work.

There was a break in the agenda to ask members of the observing public to introduce themselves. Present were Becky Dinces, regional manager for Penquis;  Nancy Troeger, town manager of Van Buren; David Cote, Van Buren project director; Pamela Corcoran, program coordinator from Knox County in Rockland; Jennifer Crittenden, University of Maine Center on Aging; and Patricia Oh, consultant for age-friendly communities in Maine.

National Public Policy Issues. Report from ASC committee: Portela reported that the House bill is going nowhere. In the Senate, Senator Coones (D  DEL) and Senator Wiker (R MI) introduced CORPS act. Maine’s two Senators (King and Collins) are co-sponsors. Bill calls for 16.6 billion in appropriations over the next 3 budget cycles and an increase in AC slots from 75-150 then 150-200 then 200-250 (in thousands) over three years. This improves living allowance 14K to 22K. Increased flexibility for smaller rural models. NGA approached about supporting legislation. Ready to do that. Portela reported the amount is more likely to be $5B, but still a significant increase. When a new COVID bill was introduced in the Senate, elements from the  CORPs Act were moved into it. All in all, good news for communities helping through the pandemic and the economic fallout. Need to watch the negotiations around the COVID relief bill.

CNCS Update: Ostberg reported that CNCS staff are still working remotely and this is the last meeting she will attend. As of July 6, Emily Poore will be the Portfolio Manager and Susan Cheeseman will be the CNCS ex-officio representative.  John O’Neill will oversee the Senior Corps Projects. Emily will handle the Commission grants, VISTA, and Goodwill national grant. Ostberg discussed CNCS rebranding, what names do people recognize, and having fewer brands.  They decided on two brands: AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps Seniors, doing business as.  This will be launched in late summer. The process will take three years to transition to the new names, it takes time to make changes.  Logos will come out later this year, they are still in the works. 

Volunteer Maine Staff Reports.  Maryalice reported that the Research Task Force will meet on July 17 to review proposals on research and reports on legislation. Meeting will begin at 10:00 AM.  Deering is not available then.

Update on Commission Staffing.  Maryalice completed interviews for the Office Administrator.  The position is for 48 hours in a 2 week time period, not full time. Zach Harder has accepted the position and will begin August 3.  He is a Conservation Corps alum and has an Associate Degree in Communications. He most recently worked for the legislature and is held in high regard.

Update on OIG Actions in Maine. Maryalice states that LearningWorks again is being asked to resubmit information because it has been lost by OIG. The Commission is also responding to a request for information previously submitted.

Major Summer Projects in the Office. Jamie is working a contractor over the summer to update  AmeriCorps resources for new grantees.  Jamie will lead training for new operational grantees.  Michael is working with new planning grant grantees. There are two summer interns. Tony Inhorn’s research will be the basis for Commission decisions on future funding priorities. He will make a report in August before leaving for Chicago. Nathan McIvor is helping Bryan complete the Commission rebrand and start new website.

Maine Volunteer Leadership Conference. Maryalice found someone to help manage the conference development and support the planning committee.  Nancee Campbell reached out to Maryalice.  Nancee enjoys organizing events and is taking a major coordination role.  She is retired from ministry and substance use prevention work in Maine.

Planning and Future Initiatives.
Discussion of Commission needs and expectations of Maine Volunteer Foundation. The Commission statute requires a work plan be negotiated annually with the Foundation. Board members were asked for their thoughts on priorities for funding over the next year. A suggestion is to ask Foundation to develop an alumni-supported fund that would take care of needs for AmeriCorps members in the state. Commissioners need to have conversation with the Foundation officers about Service Fellows, alumni support for AmeriCorps members, and using events as fundraisers. A negotiation team from the Commission is needed.  Portela is liaison and attends foundation meetings but may not speak, only an observer. Celeste asks for volunteers: Barrett volunteered. Team will be Barrett, Portela and Branham. In response to questions, it was noted the foundation meets every other month and there are 5 members with 2 vacancies.

Business Wrap Up: Reminder of joint meeting with Research and Evaluation Task Force on July 17 at 10:00 am. The agenda is a briefing from two of the researchers doing projects this summer.

Moved by Barczyk to adjourn. Seconded by Tilton-Flood. Vote on motion: In favor – Barczyk, Barrett, Deering, Nixon, Phelps, Portela, Shorty, Staples, Tilton-Flood.  Opposed – none.  Abstentions – none. Motion approved.

The meeting adjourned at 11:43 am.