PRESENT: Jenni Tilton-Flood, Celeste Branham, Zakk Maher, Stacie Haines, Pam Proulx-Curry, Maryalice Crofton
The members convened at 9:20 am using the virtual meeting technology.
Commission support grant match waiver. The waiver was authorized. It eliminates a requirement for match on ARP commission operating funds and lowers the required match for 2022 commission operating to $115,000.
Process for deciding whether to get budget authority or move to SOS. Exec members discussed updated information. The senior staff at SOS want to postpone a Commission move until the next biennial which would make the move occur on July 1, 2025. Dept of Education is okay with the Commission staying another two years. There is the option of getting our own budget authority and operating like other boards and commissions (e.g., Human Rights or Historic Preservation). This is not the same as becoming a quasi-governmental agency. The Exec members decided to start discussions with SOS as they requested and research what it would mean to take on all our administrative functions. In light of the heavy grant schedule for fall, Maryalice was asked to bring a timeline to the December Exec meeting.
Federal agency leader, Michael Smith, visit to Maine. A schedule has been proposed to Mr. Smith’s Washington staff with a request to respond by Friday (9/9). That would give Commission staff time to finalize invitations, site attendance details, and pull together briefing materials to send in advance. Exec Committee members were asked to identify where they could be present to add to Commission representation. Maryalice will email the itinerary and members will let her know which events. At the board meeting, the same request will be made but the itinerary will be passed around.
September board expirations. The only update is that John Portela is still trying to connect with the union representative he feels would be a strong candidate.
Grant update as it impacts fall agendas. There are 6 competitions before Thanksgiving. Votes on funding recommendations will be on these agendas: September – AmeriCorps Planning Grants; October – AmeriCorps Rural State and Climate Corps; November – Maine Service Fellows, AmeriCorps Competitive, AmeriCorps Public Health Competitive. The last is a new one but operates the same as the routine AC Competitive – states pick strong proposals to enter into the national competition (spelling bee style).
Retreat update. Five Board members are not able to attend either the retreat or business meeting. Sixteen members will be at the retreat and 18 at the business meeting. Everything seems on track to launch the year.
Federal agency break with states. The federal AmeriCorps agency issued a call for planning grant proposals that has organizations operating only in one state applying directly to the federal agency which will also decide who is funded. This is not just a break in long-standing practice but violates the federal statute which places responsibility for selecting and submitting to the federal agency, AmeriCorps program applications that would operate only in that state. Further, while the new call for applications (called a NOFO federally) says it will consult with states, that stautorily required process has only received lip service at the federal level. Again, according to federal law, any proposals state commissions submit under normal competitions must further the goals of state service plans. There is no apparent effort to consult with the Commissions – there was also no prior consultation – about goals of state service plans. The federal agency proposes to have its Regional Office staff provide the training to these grantees, a plan that is completely at odds with their assertions that they do not have capacity to manage the current workload. Commissions are seeing a lot of confusion among their own planning grant applicants over which competition they should apply to. These planning grants are $240,000 which states have found to be more than 3 times what is needed for the program planning process when it will operate only in one state. There is concern that single-state planning grantees could be a high risk for criticism on how funds are used. Finally, the expected result of planning grants is a proposal for a program operating grant which would have to be funded at the state commission level. Commissions have long range funding plans that include their own planning grants and there is concern the expectation of funding could not be met.
This controversy has roiled for last 3 weeks but AmeriCorps is entrenched and not changing. There are many proposals for next steps that involve governors, attorneys general (especially in strong “states rights” places), members of Congress, and other elected officials. ASC is convening an Executive Director meeting next week to sort through the issues, determine level of support across the states, and identify a progression of next steps. Exec Committee members were very concerned about this latest move by CNCS. It follows on the heels of two other occasions where CNCS did the same and muffed the whole thing. They said they learned lessons that would not be repeated. More to come after the national meeting.
Other. There was no time for other items as people needed to go to other meetings. The members disbanded at 10:43 am.