Commission Minutes

Public Comment Period: None.

Present: Ed Barrett, F. Celeste Branham, Philip Bosse, Chelsey Fortin-Trimble, William Guindon, Stacie Haines, Becky Hayes-Boober, Diane Lebson (remote), Janet May, Jeff McCabe, Pamela Proulx-Curry, Nate Rudy (remote), Luke Shorty (remote), Jenni Tilton-Flood, Julia Van Steenberghe, Susan Wiggin.

Several Commissioners joined the meeting after its start time. Note that each voting record reflects which Commissioners were present as votes were called.

Guests: Ron Holmes, Maine Volunteer Foundation. 

Call to Order: Chair Tilton-Flood called the meeting to order at 10:09 a.m.

Welcome, Announcements, Agenda Adjustments: Commissioners and staff introduced themselves. Barrett and Hawthorne correctly answered June’s commissioner quiz. Tilton-Flood stressed that checking for potential conflicts of interest is important when reviewing grant applications—even when under a tight deadline. The Commission was also reminded to think about scheduling the annual board retreat and to watch for an upcoming poll pertaining to potential changes to the business meeting schedule. Expiring terms for various task force chairs will necessitate a change in the leadership of these teams. Diane Lebson has agreed to lead the Communications Task Force an Julia VanSteenberghe will step in to lead Excellence and Expertise. The Commission noted the departure of Public Information Officer Bryan Roche and his many contributions to Volunteer Maine. 

There were no changes to the agenda.

Consent Agenda: MOVED by Branham to approve the consent agenda. SECONDED by Hayes-Boober. 

Vote on the motion: In favor–Barrett, Branham, Bosse, Fortin-Trimble, Guindon, Haines, Hayes-Boober, May, McCabe, Proulx-Curry, Rudy, Tilton-Flood, Van Steenberghe, Wiggin. Opposed – none. Motion passed.

Items approved by the motion were the Commission meeting minutes for May 12, 2023, the report of the Executive Committee meeting for June 6, 2023, and the report of the Climate Corps Task Force meeting for May 17, 2023.

Planning and Future Initiatives
A.    Maine Volunteer Foundation update
(Holmes): The board discussed potential funding opportunities for Maine Service Fellows programs at its last meeting. The board needs to meet in July to develop its funding goals and meet its statutory requirement of developing a plan for raising funds for expenses not covered by the Commission.

B.    Commission Ambassadors to Maine National Service programs (Proulx-Curry, Program Officer Preecs): Proposal to connect Commissioners to National Service programs in Maine; a specific Commissioner will visit an assigned grantee several times per year in order to build relationships with grantees and provide the Commissioner with a better sense of what service programs look like on the ground.
Business Reports

Business Reports 
A. Public Policy
(Shorty): Updates regarding some of the Commission-related bills before the Legislature:

  • Both the Climate Corps (L.D. 142) and MSF (L.D. 143) bills have moved through the legislative process and are now before the Appropriations Committee on the special table. Public Policy and Communications Task Forces have done a great job making state legislators aware of these programs by writing letters of outreach.
  • Rep. Faye’s bill to support volunteer services (L.D. 666) was passed in both chambers and is before the Appropriations Committee on the special table. If passed, this would allow the Commission to keep the volunteer sector training and technical assistance moving forward. Funds would maintain, not add, headcount.
  • Resolution (L.D. 1260) was approved by both the state House and Senate. It requires a study by Secretary of State and Volunteer Maine on how VM would function if it had SOS as funding agent instead of DOE; additionally, it will examine how the potential position of Deputy SOS for Service. The study report is due in December 2023.
  • LD1573 addresses taxation of education awards earned through volunteer community service (AmeriCorps, Maine Service Fellows). It has not been reported out of committee.

B. Grant Selection and Performance Task Force (Barrett): UMaine Center on Aging decided to end the AmeriCorps program despite it being very successful. The staff tried to find a new sponsor but no organization would take on the program – they didn’t have the capacity or it was not within their mission. Rather than leave over $200,000 funds on table staff proposed that the climate corps program which only has one year of funding, be extended using AmeriCorps funds. Downeast Community Partners was interested and adapted its climate program to expand the number of homes for weatherization projects. State procurement advised this was okay because there had been no applicants to the regular Request for Applications. The proposal was submitted with the other formula grants for approval by AmeriCorps, the federal agency.

C. Executive Committee (Tilton-Flood): 
There was a special meeting of the Executive Committee to review and approve for funding, the Downeast Community Partners AmeriCorps application. Minutes of the meeting were posted with the board agenda for today.

MOVED by Branham to accept the minutes of the special Executive Committee meeting on May 30, 2023. SECONDED by Haines.

Vote on the motion: In favor–Barrett, Branham, Bosse, Fortin-Trimble, Guindon, Haines, Wiggin, Hayes-Boober, May, McCabe, Proulx-Curry, Rudy, Shorty, Tilton-Flood, Van Steenberghe. Opposed – none. Motion passed.

Executive Committee also proposes a board policy on applications for new funding programs. “Program” is used in the same way government budgets refer to budgetary programs. The draft policy text reads: 

When a significant new funding program is identified by Commission staff, whether it is public or private, and the funding is not related to an expense authorized in the active budget, the Executive Committee must review any application or agreement to receive the funds. Executive Committee will bring a recommendation to the full board at the next regular business meeting. In the event action must be taken (application submission or acceptance of funds) before that meeting or the opportunity forfeited, Executive Committee will follow the policy (2021) for taking action on behalf of the full board.

Significant means the program would expand Commission activities and responsibilities beyond the current set and span more than the current budget year.

A request for Executive Committee authorization must demonstrate the proposed funding program is in alignment with the criteria in the Commission Identity Statement, furthers the strategic plan, and any staff resources are supported.

MOVED by Branham to approve the policy. SECONDED by Barrett.

Vote on the motion: In favor–Barrett, Branham, Bosse, Fortin-Trimble, Guindon, Haines, Wiggin, Lebson, Hayes-Boober, May, McCabe, Proulx-Curry, Rudy, Shorty, Tilton-Flood, Van Steenberghe. Opposed – none. Motion passed.

The Commission discussed recruiting more potential Commissioners given that several current board members will be leaving the Commission this year after their terms expire.

D.  Maine Service Fellows Advisory Task Force (Branham): Currently, the task force is developing a background check process for potential MSF applicants.

At a meeting this week, staff learned of a grant opportunity through USDA Rural Development. Because the deadline for submission is in 4 days, the proposal is being brought directly to the Commission for consideration. The USDA grant is for 3 years and targets rural communities that need help identifying and planning for public facility-related needs. The summary provided to Commissioners listed allowable activities on the second page. It fits a Service Fellow position exactly. Planning can include funding or services associated with a facility. The maximum grant would cover one Maine Service Fellow each year of the 3-year grant.

MOVED by Hayes-Boober to authorize staff to apply for the funds. SECONDED by Bosse.

Discussion focused on the short turn around for developing a proposal. Brewer is the lead staff and she assured board members it could happen. The application is not complicated and a proposal developed last month for another potential grant (not submitted) has much of the information already organized.

Vote on the motion: In favor–Barrett, Branham, Bosse, Fortin-Trimble, Guindon, Haines, Wiggin, Hayes-Boober, May, McCabe, Meuser, Proulx-Curry, Rudy, Shorty, Lebson, Tilton-Flood, Van Steenberghe. Opposed – none. Motion passed.

E. Climate Corps Task Force (Brewer, Haines): The task force is currently trying to integrate approaches learned from a recent lecture on participatory grantmaking.
Climate Corps Coordinator Kirsten Brewer recently attended a US State Department-sponsored seminar in Chile covering Climate Issues within Municipal Government and Inclusion.  VM’s Climate Corps project was well-received at the conference and conversations indicated that professionals from other nations thought that it could be good model for places other than Maine. Brewer met a park director from Mexico at the seminar and mentioned that he might be a good speaker to invite to Climate Corps-related events in the future. 

F. DEI Task Force (Branham): The task force is currently speaking with university administrators while researching the best ways to handle land acknowledgements.
Soon, a poll will be sent to Commissioners asking about which DEI issues should be addressed at the board retreat.

G. Commission Staff Reports: Now that UMaine Hutchinson Center is shutting down, staff are looking for a new location for the Maine Volunteer Leadership Conference. Shorty volunteered to connect Kelsey with Thomas College event organizers. 

Staff recently amended an award to KVCAP/Educare (this grantee is withdrawing) to shift it DOE instead; DOE will take over the program’s child development and support work. 

Fortin-Trimble mentioned that Dept. of Labor and DOE are in working group to develop service opportunity for apprenticeships; this will be relevant to many facets of VM’s work. 

Focus on Mission Responsibilities 
A.    Biennial Board Election
MOTIONED by Branham that the proposed slate of officers (Shorty for Chair, Proulx-Curry for Chair-Elect. Guindon for Vice Chair) be elected. SECONDED by Hayes-Boober. 

Vote on the motion: In favor–Barrett, Branham, Bosse, Fortin-Trimble, Guindon, Haines, Wiggin, Hayes-Boober, Lebson, May, McCabe, Meuser, Proulx-Curry, Rudy, Shorty, Tilton-Flood, Van Steenberghe. Opposed – none. Motion passed.

Proulx-Curry interrupted the formal agenda to thank the outgoing chair for her leadership and present a token of the board's appreciation.

Business Wrap-Up:  MOTIONED by Wiggin to adjourn the meeting. SECONDED by Van Steenberghe. Tilton-Flood adjourned the business meeting to a National Service recognition event at 11:44 a.m. The next business meeting will occur in September 2023 (date TBD).