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Grant Selection and Performance

June 8, 2018

PRESENT: Ed Barrett, Carol Rancourt, David Wihry, Beth Lambert, Laurel Bernier, Maryalice Crofton  

The meeting convened by telemeeting at 8:30 am.  

There is one item on the agenda for today: finalizing recommendations for AmeriCorps Formula funding. The full Commission will act on these recommendations at its June 15th meeting.  

AmeriCorps Standard Continuation: Eastern Maine Development Corp. Year 2 funds 
Members agreed with the recommendation to award year 2 positions and funding. Everyone acknowledged the program has had multiple challenges including the delayed start. The delay was one factor affecting recruitment and enrollment because partner sites as well as potential members did not wait around.  

The task force considered what award conditions might prompt a strong second year. A performance risk the program needs to address involves increasing grantee staff support for the program director. Having only one person understand the administrative requirements, program activities and goals has twice proven to be an issue when knowledgeable staff have left for other jobs.  

Task force members agreed the second year award must contain a condition that the grantee increase the level of staff support for the program beyond just the program director.  

Maine Rural State AmeriCorps – New Awards for 3 years operation  
These awards were open to organizations that never had AmeriCorps grants and limited the request to between 2 and 5 full-time members. Preference points were given for applications from rural areas but any organization could apply.  The submitted proposals sparked a discussion about a mismatch between the resources of some applicants, the clarity of language in the RFP, and the expectations of the Commission regarding what size organizations would apply. It was agreed that future Rural State RFPs for AmeriCorps should limit eligibility to organizations that do not have the human resources to implement projects or services. This would be a criteria added to the current set (never had an AmeriCorps grant; not placing members with other organizations).  

Brunswick School Dept  
This application scored the highest of all new grant applications submitted. There was not much discussion and the Task Force agreed it should be funded with only the conditions noted in the technical review.

This organization has been around for 24 years and has hosted AmeriCorps members for most of that time. This is the first time it has applied for its own grant award. There are some concerns about the fact the AmeriCorps grant will be the first public funding the organization has managed. Fiscal systems will need to be strengthened before the award is finalized. Michael can do this as part of his coaching role with new grantees. The only other conditions are those noted in the technical review. The recommendation is to fund.

Mid Coast Conservancy  
The proposal is recommended for funding. It brings AmeriCorps into an area where there has never been a grantee although there have been host sites. The counties to be served are rural and the health goal of the project is one the Commission supported in the past. 

Colby  College
There was significant discussion about the proposal, in part, because the need for AmeriCorps to implement to program is not clear. The community needs to be met by helping nonprofits define direct service projects and then recruiting/placing students to implement those projects is clear. The placement at the United Way of MidMaine is not allowed. The grantee will need to drop from 3 to 2 positions. The relationship between any student volunteer office already existing and these positions in the civic engagement program needs clarification.

The task force recommends funding to support 2 positions and the applicant must address the corrections/conditions listed in the report.

AmeriCorps Standard Formula Grants – New Applications for 3 year awards

These applications must have at least 10 MSY and the application content, eligibility criteria, etc. are the same as the content for last fall’s AmeriCorps Competitive round. The difference is the Commission makes the decision and applicants may only have 3 grants before they must move to Competitive.

RSU14 Windham Raymond Schools – Recompete.  
This application is overshadowed by compliance and operational issues of the current grant. The applicant is eligible (the proposal would be the 3rd grant of the 3 permitted in Formula) and the proposal takes care of current flaws but cannot be considered out of current context.

The Task Force recommendation for funding is conditional on specific things happening before the Commission meeting:

  • Confirmation the district administration supports the application. It is not clear that the individual who signed the application is authorized to apply for funding on behalf of the district.
  • An interim Program Director with a compliant background check must be in place by the end of the day on June 8.
  • A corrective action plan addressing all the areas of noncompliance discovered in a Commission review must be submitted by June 14. All corrections must be completed by June 25 (before the Commission deadline for submitting funding request to CNCS).
  • The district must increase staffing support for the program now (the one finishing) and for any future grant. Having only one person actually know the administrative requirements and program activities has contributed significantly to the level of non-compliance. The individuals listed as grantee share in the current grant are only providing supervision to members during school days. They are not operational support.

Axiom Education and Training – New applicant

The proposal has merit but shows the applicant does not have experience with either volunteers or AmeriCorps. Some of the concerns raised cannot be resolved by the significant local cash match. After discussion of the concerns, the Task Force recommends funding at a reduced size with the stipulation there must be two AmeriCorps members per county and the issues listed in the technical review as corrections/conditions must be addressed before the proposal will be included in the set submitted to CNCS as Maine’s Formula awards.