Commission Minutes

Public Comment Period: No members of the public requested an opportunity to speak.

Present:  Ed Barrett, F. Celeste Branham, Susan Cheesman, Stacie Haines, Matt L’Italien, Zachery Maher, Robert Meinders, Jessica Nixon, John Portela, Pamela Proulx-Curry, Nathaniel Rudy, Luke Shorty.

Guests: Abbie Giallombardo, KVCAP.  Julia Breul, GPCOG.

Call to Order: Vice Chair Shorty called the meeting to order at 10:01 a.m.

Welcome, Announcements, Agenda Adjustments: Commissioners introduced themselves and stated which seats they held on the Commission. Staff were also introduced. Executive Director Crofton announced that Barrett, Meinders, and Hawthorne (absent) answered the most recent quiz correctly; the correct response was “the federal government’s goal is to allocate 40% of federal resources into marginalized communities.”  Branham stated that she appreciated Program Officer Kelsey Preecs for her great work in representing Maine Service Fellows. There were no additions or deletions to the agenda.

Consent Agenda: There were no concerns about the consent agenda. MOTIONED by L’Italien to approve the agenda. SECONDED by Branham. 
Vote on the motion: In favor –Barrett, Branham, Cheesman, Haines, L’Italien, Zachery Maher, Meinders, Nixon, Portela, Proulx-Curry, Rudy, Shorty. Opposed – none. Motion passed.

Items approved by the motion were the Commission meeting minutes for February 18, 2022, the reports of the Executive Committee meetings for March 3, 2022 and April 7, 2022, the report of the Grant Selection and Performance Task Force meeting for April 8, 2022, the report of the Communications Task Force meeting for March 8, 2022, the report of the Maine Service Fellows Advisory committee meeting for March 15, 2022, the reports of the Excellence and Expertise Task Force meetings for March 3, 2022 and April 6, 2022, and the report of the Research and Evaluation Task Force for March 15, 2022.

Planning and Future Initiatives  
A.    AmeriCorps portion of proposed federal budget
(Crofton): The State Commissions’ goal is to have enough funds so that member stipends are maintained at the minimum $20,000 even after A.R.P. funding ends. 
B.   New strategic plan from federal agency as of March 2022 (Cheesman): The new plan emphasizes five pillars: 
1. Use AmeriCorps as a strategy to advance racial equity (through both grantmaking and accessibility to prospective members). 
2. Enhance the experience of AmeriCorps members and AmeriCorps Seniors.                                                                          
3. Unite Americans and bring them together in service; achieve this in part by increasing awareness of AmeriCorps.
4. Effectively steward federal resources.
5. Make the federal agency one of the best and most equitable places to work in civil service
C.    Status of L.D. 1974 and new position, Climate Corps Coordinator (Crofton, Haines): The Legislature passed L.D. 1974, and Rep. Reilly is currently organizing a public bill-signing session. Also, it is not yet clear if funding for the grantee positions are included in the next fiscal year. Crofton interviewed five candidates for the Climate Corps Coordinator position on April 14, 2022.

Focus on Mission Responsibilities
A. Action on proposed edits of Commission identity statement
(Branham): Diversity, equity, and inclusion were made more central to the statement. Branham, along with Proulx-Curry, submitted edits to the D.E.I. subcommittee, which in turn sent its own revisions to Executive Committee and SISGI Consultant Thenera Bailey. 
MOTIONED by Portela to accept new edits of the identity statement for Commission. SECONDED by Haines. Discussion on the motion clarified certain terms used in the statement. Mainly, that “socially marginalized” encompasses economic disadvantage, particularly in the context of under-resourced, post-industrial communities in rural Maine. Vote on the motion: In favor – Barrett, Branham, Cheesman, Haines, L’Italien, Zachery Maher, Meinders, Nixon, Portela, Proulx-Curry, Rudy, Shorty. Opposed – none. Motion passed
B. Grantee briefing on program use of grant resources, impact on community issue, and activities related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (Giallombardo, Breul): Giallombardo explained how First4 AmeriCorps uses grant resources to produce empirical measurements of how children can make social and emotional gains through the program despite trauma and environmental setbacks at home. The program’s AmeriCorps service members have greatly helped D.E.I. efforts; last year, the program had three non-binary service members who provided a presentation to the KVCAP staff on the gender spectrum and inclusivity that helped further propel D.E.I. efforts; the team is now even more energetic about the topic and participates in frequent internal trainings; additionally, KVCAP now asks for personal pronouns from parents applying to their programs in order to put inclusivity into practice. Breul noted that AmeriCorps Resilience Corps members gain valuable experience through a professional development program that teaches grant writing skills in order to help them gain employment after their service year ends. Also, one service member has written substantial guides on the topic of resilience planning and climate change; another member received national recognition for her efforts to expand broadband access. To further D.E.I. efforts, service members provided capacity to Portland’s Immigrant Welcome Center in the previous two years in addition to providing outreach to non-English speakers who needed access to transportation services.

Business Reports
National Public Policy Committee of States
(Crofton, Shorty): Shorty mentioned that the next States for Service meeting was delayed until next week and that he had nothing to report. Crofton mentioned that, according to a briefing at the ASC public policy meeting, “climate corps” might become a politically polarizing term in Congress.

AmeriCorps federal agency update (Cheesman): A new associate portfolio manager joined the team and three more will join next month; capacity level is gradually expanding within the agency.

Commission Staff Reports: Outreach efforts to partner service projects with Maine DOE’s summer marine ecology program have only yielded one interested party, Maine Conservation Corps. Also, Governor’s Service Awards awardees will be recognized next week.

Business Wrap-Up:  The next Commission meeting will be on May 20th, 2022. Vice Chair Shorty adjourned the business meeting at 12:01 p.m