Grant Selection and Performance Task Force

PRESENT: Ed Barrett, Rob Meinders, Matt L’Italien, Becky Hayes-Boober, Jamie McFaul, Maryalice Crofton

The task force convened by videoconference at 8:30 am.

Grant review schedules. New Planning Grant submissions are due August 25. New Rural Grant proposals are due September 15.

AC Planning Grant Competition: MC suggested half of the GTF review the planning grants and the other half of the GTF could review the rural applications. Matt, Becky, and Rob will do tech review for planning grants. The Exec Committee suggestion that new Commissioners be peer reviewers was endorsed.

TIMELINE: Submissions are due 8/25. They will go to peer review on Monday 8/29 and should be ready for consensus scoring on 9/6. That would get them to tech review on 9/7. Review for planning grants has less to do with fiscal than the other elements so hope is the reviewers could do a consensus scoring call on 9/12 and whole Grants Task Force confirm recommendations in a 5 min meeting on 9/13. The board could then vote on awards when it meets on 9/16.  Task force members prefer to meet on 9/9 at 3pm given that only 2 applicants are expected in this off-cycle competition. 

AC Rural Grant Competition: September 15 rural applications come in. There is potentially one rural application based on inquiries so far. Tech review for this competition will be Ed, Mike, and Zakk. 

TIMELINE: In order to be ready for award votes at the October 21 board meeting, the schedule needs to be this: Peer review from 9.19 to 9/26; Tech review from 9/28 to 10/7; Task Force final action on recommendations at usual 10/14 meeting.

Van Buren withdrawal from year 2. The project director and town have decided to end the AmeriCorps program after year one. In looking at rural state applicants, there are some lessons to be learned from this grantee plus the other two who ended this year. Perhaps delve more deeply into how well the program will be supported by others in the organization – not just the motivated person who is driving the proposal.

Climate Corps application and Maine Service Fellows proposals
Climate Corps is an actual grant of funds competition. There is $200,000 (non-AmeriCorps funding) to award. The Grant Task is the only one responsible for selecting and recommending grant awards. Because there are several competitions in the same timeframe, we need to decide whether the GTF is going to enlist the aid of other commission members. Climate Corps is open now for applications that are due on 9/23/2022. Discussion ended with request that Stacie Haines be asked to recruit R&E members to be peer reviewers and the Grant Task Force will do tech review and final recommendations. 

The applications for Maine Service Fellows open September 6 and are due October 20. Several members of the advisory committee have conflicts and cannot be part of selection. This review does not award funds directly but awards placement of a Fellow for a year. Celeste Branham chairs the MSF advisory group and likely will help with review. Recommendation is that this task force review the applications so there is a solid grounding in the difference between grants with funds and grants of people.  

Summary of federal changes in AmeriCorps Competitive application content/scoring issued 8/8/2022

  • Priorities have changed and the top priority is providing AC program support to underserved, underrepresented, and marginalized communities It was discussed that people with disability should be included in those priorities.
  • The application narrative has added back a prompt about the kind of member training that will be provided. This is more aligned with workforce development, skills development, leadership training which is getting back to what the agency used to emphasize under member development.
  • AmeriCorps competitive application coming in late October.

5. Questions for AmeriCorps grantees in continuation applications. As requested, a set of questions to be answered as part of continuation proposals was drafted for Task Force consideration.

a)    What are the program's key accomplishments in the current year? 
b)    Discuss any changes in staff, sponsor organization, and funding that impact the program. If host sites are asked to provide a cost share, what is that amount?
c)    What lessons were learned during program operation this year and how did you apply them to the continuation proposed?
d)    List any changes to host sites and slot types with a discussion of why the changes are proposed, especially in terms of how they will affect the program's impact on the target community need.

Task force members discussed the draft. Points to add and alternative wording included the following:

  •  Are you getting the level of support that you need to be successful? 
  • Talk about the lessons learned.  
  •  Provide some evidence of support from partners both internally and externally 
  • What has changed in the local context, what have they done to adapt to what has occurred in the surrounding community. 
  • What new investments are they pulling in from other organizations? They do need to indicate who they are working with in the community. 

Commission staff will edit the questions, try to stay at 6 questions, and have a final draft for October meeting. September will be dealing with final grant funding recommendations. 

End meeting at 9:34 a.m.