Grant Selection and Performance Task Force

PRESENT: Ed Barrett, Rob Meinders, Mike Moran, Becky Boober, Ed Barrett & William Guindon
Staff present: Michael Ashmore, Kirsten Brewer, Jamie McFaul

The members convened at 8:30 am using the virtual meeting technology.


The agenda had one item, the participatory grant-making practices that can be added or improved in the Commission process and the potential action steps to make it happen.

At every stage of grant process, relationship building is fundamental. Currently there is a of lack representation in tribal and new Mainer communities, and trust is the main issue. The fundamental first step is relationship building which may be done by asking potential applicants to serve as peer reviewers. 

Need to stay focused on the goals of increasing representation among both service members and agencies around Maine. To do this, need to provide support and services that not only build capacity or support participants in those communities, but also fund agencies that represent marginalized communities. The Commission periodically sets priorities about areas of need for grants. To cultivate applicants, which means we then focus on reaching out to groups that are operating in those environments and develop relationships, especially with newer or younger organizations. The main takeaways were:

  • To focus in very narrowly on setting up project priorities and identifying what we want to fund limit the universe of groups that need to contact and work with. 
  • To identify some key Communities that we want to do more outreach in
  • Connect with established organizations that have relationships with networks of BIPOC organizations and communities. E.g., Community Concepts, city govts, etc.
  • Intentionally diversifying our peer review pool to help build relationships and trust
  • Provide stipends to peer reviewers to attract and retain their involvement 
  • Collect data from current grantees to assess what was the most difficult about developing their application and from people who started to apply and decided not to submit
  • Address barriers in public facing materials to make RFA more accessible
  • Need to engage underrepresented people in grant making as task force members, peer reviewers, hosting outreach. Requires active recruitment, not just advertising or passing info.

For peer reviewers, adding to network and developing new connections would begin relationship part.

New and rural programs may need a different approach to support, some may even need a fiscal agent. Training alone has proven to be not enough.

Turnover in staff at grantees is biggest factor in grant failure. Organizations that have minimal staffing do not have promotion opportunities, so people move. Other factors in failure are that programs are not integrated into mission of agency and, therefore, are not resourced. When a program has a small number of members where one person becomes a human resource problem that disrupts the whole group, sometimes even the entire staff of a small agency.

As a Commission we can reassess promotion of fixed amount grants as preferable. For new grantees without established systems, the connection between accessing grant funds and enrollment may be a greater risk than correctly documenting match.

NEXT MEETING: Friday, September 8 at 8:30 am

There being no other discussion items, the members dispersed at 9:33am.