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Grant Selection and Performance

January 5, 2018

PRESENT: Ed Barrett, Carol Rancourt, David Wihry, Nicole Pellenz, Beth Lambert, Joe Young, Maryalice Crofton.

The task force met by teleconference and started at 8:32 am. Drafts of the assessment and recommendation reports had been distributed to members before the meeting. The reports compile reviews of both external peer reviewers and task force members.

Consideration of AmeriCorps grants.  
Continuations:
The task force members who reviewed the Continuation applications were Ed Barrett, Beth Lambert, and Joe Young. Ed presented summaries of their review on behalf of the panel.

Maine Campus Compact was the first report considered. The members unanimously concurred with the recommendations to the Commission which call for supporting the request and reviewing performance after the six month progress report is submitted in April 2018.

LearningWorks was the second continuation report considered. After discussion, the members unanimously concurred with the recommendations to the Commission. There is support for letting the program demonstrate improved performance under the completely new leadership. If the six-month progress report does not show change, particularly in recruitment, the Commission’s recommendation to CNCS about allocation of positions and funds can be changed/reduced.

Maryalice noted that the LearningWorks performance measures are a good example of what happens when grantees conform to CNCS instructions to only measure aspects of program activity. She recommends the task force look at adding requirements to future grants that would measure all the effort as well as the narrow aspects of interest to CNCS. This will be on either the February or March agenda.

New program proposals:
The members who focused on the new applications were Carol Rancourt, Nicole Pellenz, and David Wihry. There were two submissions and the final scores are close. In this competition, the Commission reviews proposals to determine if they should be moved forward as Maine’s entries in the federal competition and, if so, what modifications or corrections ought to be made before submission.  

Healthy Acadia’s proposal for a Maine Recovery Corps was considered first. It was noted this applicant has never had an AmeriCorps grant. The proposal is the result of a year of work under the special program development initiative and all the partners listed were part of the design group. Healthy Acadia is the group member who agreed to submit the application and manage a grant. After discussion, the task force unanimously concurred with the recommendations to the Commission.  

Maine Conservation Corps is a re-compete proposal that was considered next. Members noted concerns with the proposal in terms of presentation. The information about past performance was strong but the description related to the future had issues. A required modification was added. It instructs the applicant to provide a more concrete description of how field team members develop soft skills needed for employment and how their supervisors are trained so they are effective in teaching or fostering those skills. It was noted that this program also has had a significant turnover in leadership during the past six months. After discussion, the task force unanimously concurred with the recommendations to the Commission.  

Further discussion:
Carol asked when the task force could expect to see the modified proposals. A due date for submitting changes was set for January 12 at close of business. Staff will review the applications to ensure all points were addressed and post for task force members on Jan 15. The task force will need to respond quickly since the federal submission deadline is 48 hours later. 

Other discussion items.  
Maryalice reviewed and gave context for items that need to be on the February task force agenda. She also expressed appreciation for the time devoted to reviewing all the applications over the holiday period. Each task force member spent at least four hours and each peer reviewer devoted an average of 6 hours. 

There being no other items to consider, the meeting ended at 9:12 am.

NEXT MEETING: Friday, Feb. 2 @ 8:30 am

FINAL REPORTS WITH RECOMMENDATIONS: