Commission Minutes

Public Comment Period: There were no comments from the public.

Present: Ed Barrett, Philip Bosse, F. Celeste Branham, Gary Dugal, Chelsey Fortin-Trimble, William Guidon Jr., Becky Hayes-Boober, Diane Lebson, Janet May, Thomas Meuser, Jenifer Tilton-Flood

Guests: Bill Birney, Maine Volunteer Foundation

Call to Order: Chair Tilton-Flood called the meeting to order at 10:01 a.m.

Welcome, Announcements, Agenda Adjustments: Commissioners introduced themselves and stated which seats they occupy within the Commission. Staff were also introduced. Tilton-Flood thanked Training Officer Michael Ashmore for baking muffins for the meeting. The commissioner quiz had one entrant whose answer was partially correct. Executive Director Crofton shared the full correct answer with everyone. Angela Okafor, AmeriCorps Alum, was the keynote speaker at the AmeriCorps member conference. Ms Okafor is an elected official in Bangor and a lawyer. The goal of LD1573 might interest an AmeriCorps Alum because it proposes to make the AmeriCorps education award exempt from state income tax.

There were no changes to the agenda.

Consent Agenda: MOVED by Lebson to approve the consent agenda. SECONDED by Hayes-Boober. 
Vote on the motion: In favor –Barrett, Bosse, Branham, Dugal, Fortin-Trimble, Guidon Jr., Hayes-Boober, Lebson, May, Meuser, Tilton-Flood. Opposed – none. Motion passed.

Items approved by the motion were the Commission meeting minutes for March 17, 2023, the report of the Executive Committee meeting for April 4, 2023, the report of the Climate Corps Task Force meeting for March 14, 2023, the report of the Grant Selection and Performance Task Force meeting for April 14, 2023, the report of the Public Policy Task Force for April 5, 2023, and the report of the Transition Task Force for April 14, 2023.

Planning and Future Initiatives 
A.    Maine Volunteer Foundation update
(Birney): MVF added two new board members in the past month, Lance Boir and John Portella. The board is currently trying to recruit additional members.

B. Changing status of the Commission DEI subcommittee (Branham): Branham stated that changing the subcommittee to a Task Force would elevate the group’s importance, give primacy to DEI work, and suggest permanence. The mission of the proposed task force:

The mission of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Task Force is to identify various means by which we may thread DEI principles and consciousness through the work of the Commission and that of its staff.  As examples among an array of initiatives, this may entail:  ongoing training sessions; efforts to broaden representation of the people of Maine on the Commission; and actions to ensure DEI considerations are in the foreground of the endeavors of our task forces, and the Commission's overall work to build a stronger Maine through volunteerism.

As a Task Force, we embrace the need for accountability, at every level in the organization, so as to commit earnestly and on an ongoing basis to diversity, equity, and inclusion of historically underrepresented perspectives, populations, and communities in the breadth of the work undertaken by Volunteer Maine.

MOVED by Branham to change the DEI subcommittee into the DEI Task Force guided by the presented mission statement. SECONDED by Lebson.

MOVED by Tilton-Flood to adopt a friendly amendment that would change the mission statement’s mention of “ongoing training” to “regular training.”  SECONDED by Barrett.

Vote on the amendment: In favor –Barrett, Bosse, Branham, Dugal, Fortin-Trimble, Guidon Jr., Hayes-Boober, Lebson, May, Meuser, Tilton-Flood. Opposed – none. Amendment passed.

Vote on the amended motion: In favor –Barrett, Bosse, Branham, Dugal, Fortin-Trimble, Guidon Jr., Hayes-Boober, Lebson, May, Meuser, Tilton-Flood. Opposed – none. Motion passed.

Focus on Mission Responsibilities
A. Commission policy
to address Federal requirement in 2 CFR § 200.321 Procurements by states – adoption requested (Ashmore): As a result of federal AmeriCorps monitoring, Volunteer Maine had one finding requiring a correction to become compliance with the federal Uniform Guidance (2 CFR 200 et seq) requirement for affirmative preference towards women and minority-owned businesses. Because DAFS’ procurement rules, which VM follows, do not meet the AmeriCorps’ compliance standards, VM must develop its own policy to become compliant. VM Staff drafted an interim policy to use for compliance until DAFS (which is currently have internal discussions around these preferences) alters procurement rules. Feedback from the AmeriCorps federal agency indicates that this policy would be adequate if adopted. Executive Committee reviewed the draft and recommends it to the full board. After board discussion, the text was amended to add “disability status” under A.1, add a semicolon after “women and minority-owned and controlled or women and minority-owned or controlled” in section A.1., add “individuals with disabilities” to section A.2, and to add “disability-owned enterprises” under section D.1. 

MOVED by Barrett to approve the procurement policy. SECONDED by Branham. 
Vote on the motion: In favor –Barrett, Bosse, Branham, Dugal, Fortin-Trimble, Guidon Jr., Hayes-Boober, Lebson, May, Meuser, Tilton-Flood. Opposed – none. Motion passed.

B. Commission financial status (Crofton): Executive Director Crofton reviewed the end of year financial details with the Commission. The major funding sources and any restrictions were discussed. Items included TTA (a unique grant to every state from the AmeriCorps federal agency based on the number of members), Commission Support Grant (requires 1:1 match), and Volunteer Generation Fund, which supports Maine volunteer organizations not part of National Service.  In previous years, most match for CSG came from in-kind arrangement which was not available last year so the Commission successfully applied for an alternative of match rate. 
Crofton then explained how different funding sources underwrite the salaries of staff in addition to explaining the regular processes of AmeriCorps Formula grants. 

Business Reports
A. Public Policy
(Tilton-Flood): A complete overview of bills in the Maine State Legislature relevant to Commission business.
LD 1260:   This is a study to move Volunteer Maine’s fiscal agent from Department of Education to Secretary of State. A legislative work session on this bill occurred one day before this commission meeting.

LD 1573: An act to remove state taxation from education awards provided through any service corps under Volunteer Maine’s purview.
This bill’s hearing is in State and Local Government Committee next week. The work session is likely to be in the first week of May.

LD 143: This bill will fund 15 Maine Service Fellow positions to perform services needed by MSF’s partner communities. The legislation was passed in both chambers and is “on the table” in Appropriations.

LD 142:   A bill passed to provide ongoing funds for 50 Maine Climate Corps member positions and 4 Program Leader positions. The funds are 100% pass-through. The legislation has been reported out but has not come up for action in the House. It was noted that the Governor’s budget only allocated $81,000 to Maine Climate Corps grants which, in effect, defunds the program.

LD 666: This bill would fund the volunteer training and technical assistance that currently is on a 3-year federal grant. The Program Officer position associated with the project grant is existing head count. The funds in this bill would ensure support in future years if passed.

B. Grant Selection and Performance Task Force (Barrett): The Task Force is currently in the middle of reviewing grants and will present recommendations for each grant proposal at the next Commission meeting.

C. Climate Corps Task Force (Brewer): There is currently an unprecedented amount of funding through the Inflation Reduction Act for climate activities. Currently, the Climate Corps Coordinator is exploring viability of several funding streams and sponsorships for Maine Climate Corps, including a grant from the U.S. Forest Service for tree maintenance, tree planting, and invasive species removal. In some cases, service corps have to be part of a state plan submitted by the relevant agency such as the Maine Energy Office including service in its plan sent to US Dept of Energy.

D. Commission Staff Reports (Various): Ashmore presented evaluation data from the 2023 AmeriCorps Member Conference. Though attendance was slightly decreased from last year due to lower recruitment numbers for programs, it was still a positive turnout that captured most members serving in Maine.

Business Wrap-Up:  
MOVED by Lebson to adjourn the business meeting. SECONDED Hayes-Boober.  
Vote on the motion: In favor –Barrett, Bosse, Branham, Dugal, Fortin-Trimble, Guidon Jr., Hayes-Boober, Lebson, May, Meuser, Tilton-Flood. Opposed – none. Motion passed.

Chair Tilton-Flood adjourned the business meeting at 12:10 p.m. to a board member DEI Lunch and Learn session with SISGI Consultant Thenera Bailey.