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Executive Committee

September 1, 2020

PRESENT: Celeste Branham, Jenni Tilton-Flood, Jonathan Barczyk, Maryalice Crofton 

Discussion items:

CNCS Rebrand. The agency did a briefing after a year of working with a marketing firm. Beginning with the new fed fiscal year (Oct 1), the entire agency will do business as AmeriCorps. Senior Corps programs will be renamed as AmeriCorps Seniors while everything else from Martin Luther King Day of Service to the Bush Volunteer Generation grants will live under AmeriCorps. There’s one new logo for everything. The new “a” has a flag at half-mast and the colors are close to the Commission’s new logo, minus the green. 

OIG exit conference. After several more requests in July and August, there was one final group call and then an email scheduling the exit conference for September 3. Celeste will attend as the Commission representative. Today, the teleconference was rescheduled by the OIG. It is now slated for September 23. 

Retreat update. The program is set and Celeste will be in touch with members who have roles to play. On Sept. 24, the group will start work at 12:30 and go until 3:30. The next day will start at 8:30 am and wrap up by noon. 

Funding Priorities report. On August 28, Tony Inhorn briefed the Executive Committee and Research + Evaluation task force members on the results of his research this summer. (The full report was distributed before the meeting.) He reviewed strategic plans and statewide assessments of other state agencies as well as organizations that track data, trends, and urgent needs in public safety, environment, education, and human needs. Using specific criteria, he identified 12 priority issues for the Commission to consider when it sets its funding priorities for formula AmeriCorps and other grants. 

After the presentation, Commissioners had a very thoughtful discussion about setting funding priorities. Among the points raised were these:

  • It might be best for the Commission to adopt a set of priorities and then match or highlight a subset for each competition. This would give some flexibility to consider what was funded already or the type/purpose of the funding.
  • Leaving all priorities for communities to select from would mean we have to put greater scrutiny on the connection between the priority and what AmeriCorps can truly accomplish.
  • Another approach – move away from setting priorities, let communities identify, focus on vuilding volunteer capacity and training. As part, scrutinize how much the program is adding to the AmeriCorps members’ preparation for careers.
  • Considering the issues identified, perhaps establish a priority for Community Resilience and group fire protection, emergency response, environment, and energy under that.
  • These priorities only impact the funding the Commission fully controls. The tension is whether to make the resource broadly available for communities to use on the issues they are most concerned about OR focus the resources on one or two issues to really “attack” a problem.

Given the discussion reported, Executive Committee decided to make room on the October agenda for a workshop involving the full board. Based on the outcome in October, there would be time for public comment in November, and then recommendations could be adopted at the next meeting. This plan was supported by all.

Appointments update. All the records and applications are at the Governor’s Office. Celeste will follow up. 

Maine Volunteer Leadership Conference. The program this year is complete and registration is open. Commissioners are asked to circulate the attached flyer to all networks. One thing to note is that we are not geographically bound this year because the event will be online. 

Staffing. The Foundation identified a Volunteer Maine Development Associate who will also help Commission staff support AmeriCorps recruitment for the coming year. The person starts September 1. Also, the Program Officer for Volunteer Initiatives was established by Financial Order in August. The hiring process will open as soon as Maryalice returns from vacation. The goal is to have the person on board by October 15. At that point, the Commission staff will be at the size it was in 2014. 

State budget cuts. Each agency was directed to reduce its budget by 10% under General Funds. The Commission offered $6,500 from the outreach budget line. Final status will not be known for a few weeks. 

State salary study. Maryalice wanted Commissioners to be aware that state government has engaged a consultant to do a complete salary and responsibility study across every position in state government. It seems clear that compensation and responsibilities will be realigned. The timeline for completion and next steps has not been shared. 

There being no other items to discuss, the members dispersed.