Grant Selection & Performance Task Force

Present: Ed Barrett, Stacie Haines, Nate Rudy
Staff: Maryalice Crofton, Jamie McFaul

Absent: Ryan Almy, Matt L’Italien, Rob Meinders   

Guests: N/A

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

Group agenda was to review Recommendations for the National Directs, Discuss Planning Grants, Cost per MSY for the next round of continuations, and discuss equitable grant making process for AmeriCorps formula programs.

Recommendations for National Directs 
The group reviewed the National Direct application from the Student Conservation Association. The SCA will place 8 members in Acadia National Park (Bar Harbor) working in the Visitor Experience and Education (Interpretation) Division. Every day provides an opportunity to work in a fast-paced public contact environment with the goal of assisting and educating visitors. This position involves 50-60% assisting with informal interpretation at peregrine falcon nesting and hawk observation sites. The members will assist with staffing the main visitor center information desk. Other duties may include assisting rangers on programs (i.e., bird programs); present basic interpretive talks; conduct roves and other forms of informal interpretation at site and field locations. There are no objections from the group, the recommendation is in support of the SCA. 

Planning Grants 
Since a few programs are under enrolled there will be ARPA funds that are not going to be used, this means that there will be enough funding to have planning grants.  Programs could either do a 6-month or a 12-month planning grant. The RFP process is ready now and it can be out the first week of March. The applications could be in by April 19th and then the Commission will vote on it May. All present at the meeting are on board with this proposed timeline and opportunity. 

Cost per MSY
The group discussed raising the cost/per msy to a minimum living wage in Maine. Currently the minimum cost per MSY is $16, 800. Since states can offer more, we can go up to $26,000 as the cost/msy as the maximum and the minimum would be set at $20,000. Staff have been encouraging Programs to move away from the CORPS network (health insurance) because it is too high right now, there are other avenues such as the ACA Marketplace. SH is on board with the increase and remarks that we should go as high as we can go; EB suggests to implement this now with current programs and reevaluate as this could open up the opportunity for people to be able to serve with AmeriCorps; NR agrees and thinks that this would be appealing to a mix of demographics, as the stipend is not adequate to live on and then we end up with youth that are more affluent serving in Maine.  

Equitable grants making process 
 The group reviewed the comparison chart which looked at how the Law, CFR, and Corporation Applicant Requirements align, or not; and Equitable-Grantmaking-Continuum. According to the scoring, we are at a low level 2 for the Formula programs and a solid level 1 for Competitive. We scored as an 11 overall. EB states that the  application format is confusing so if we can go back to the law & CFR and not convolute the process, it would be easier for applicants. SH inquired about what this process will look like as the federal agency now are saying formula is subject for state control if we meet the legal requirements. There would be a need to match the RFP up with the procurement law here in Maine. For an example in California, they do invitation only for planning grants, so there might be some latitude in how we select programs. Federally, there are opportunities to advocate with the CORPS act, by  bringing up the living allowance and the benefits, not to grow the number of people but grow the quality of the experience. MC sent out the document (“crosswalk”) Law, CFR, and Corporation Applicant Requirements crosswalk to the AmeriCorps director to have their lawyers look it over and see where they stand.  SH suggest we hire a consultant in equity to make recommendations to move this process forward. MC says that Thenera is going to help us through the grant making process as she has a bird’s eye view on how others are doing it throughout the country.