Illinois Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service
Chicago: James R. Thompson Center, 100 West Randolph, Room 9-036
Springfield: Lincoln Land Community College Capital City Center, 130 West Mason, Room 104
10:00 AM – 2:00 PM
February 9, 2006
Commissioners Present: Cleo Arthur Boswell, Ph.D., Cynthia Armster (for James C. Tyree; 11:20), Daniel F. Bassill, Dave Lawrence, Dorothy Miaso, Fred Rodriguez, Ph.D., Jocelyn Dionisio, John Hosteny, Kelly Reffett (by phone), Phillip Moore (for Walter E. Grady), and Tim Capparelli (for Philip J. Cline).
ICVCS and DHS Staff Present: Kimberly Fornero, Scott Kimmel, Michael Gaines, Lisa Hooker, Brenda Letcher, and Scott Niermann.
Guests: Paul Schafer, Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) Area Manager & State Director of Ohio’s Commission; Patrick Bader, Project YES! AmeriCorps Member & LeaderCorps Coordinator; and Deborah McCarrel, incoming Program Manager for AmeriCorps.
I. Call to Order
Dave Lawrence, Chair, called the Illinois Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service (ICVCS or “Commission”) meeting to order at 10:07 AM.
Dave Lawrence asked the ICVCS staff to introduce themselves. Mr. Lawrence then asked John Hosteny of the Illinois State Program Office for CNCS to introduce Mr. Paul Schrader, CNCS Area Manager.
To set the tone of the meeting, Commissioner Lawrence read a brief article by Amy Rinell noting that there are 1.5 million people in poverty in Illinois, and that the number continues to grow.
Additionally, Lawrence noted that the ICVCS presentation given at Macomb’s Institute for Rural Affairs by Kim Fornero, Scott Kimmel, Michael Gaines, Commissioner Frank Sorenson, and Lawrence went very well. He indicated a similar presentation is scheduled at Parkland Community College in Champaign, Illinois to which multiple community college representatives will be invited. Lawrence said that if other Commissioners have groups they think would benefit from such a promotional presentation to please let him know.
III. Approval of October 20, 2005 Meeting Minutes
The Minutes were unanimously approved at approximately 12:00 noon, in the absence of a quorum earlier in the morning. Fred Rodriguez motioned; Kelly Reffett seconded. Dorothy Miaso requested one change in the ASC Update: change “...the National Organization for State Service Commissions have scheduled their Inspector General audit...” to “...the American Association of State Service Commissions have resolved their Inspector General audit.” Minutes, with changes, were accepted unanimously as indicated above.
IV. Program Reports
Commissioner Jocelyn Dionisio of the Community Resource Network gave the update on volunteerism in Illinois. She noted that the Volunteer Centers of Illinois (VCI) had elected a new Chair, Becky Stiemke, Director of the Volunteer Center of McHenry County, and that they are working on formalizing their strategic plan and operating committees. She said VCI hopes to strengthen its relationship with the Illinois Commission and reach out to more nonprofits statewide. The next Volunteer Management Training where nonprofits can attain a certificate of accomplishment will be at the Illinois Conference on Volunteer Administration (ICOVA) May 11 & 12, 2006 at the Oakbrook Marriott, Oak Brook, Illinois. Three Volunteer Centers are collaborating to present the training and ICVCS will again provide in-kind donations of copying materials.
Commissioner Dan Bassil of the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) noted that January was National Mentoring Month, and that a volunteer conference via e-conferencing might be something VCI would want to consider, as his network hosts some 3,000-4,000 volunteers online monthly. He also said the next T/MC conference is at Northwestern University May 25 & 26, 2006.
Brenda Letcher gave the Citizen Corps report. She attended a meeting last month (January) at which 30+ mini-grant applications were reviewed and funded. Ms. Letcher indicated that new funding opportunities for the next grant cycle are due out this month, although the amount to be funded is yet to be determined (probably in May or June). She also noted that due to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita last fall, thousands of calls were received by volunteers and people willing to donate supplies and volunteer, and the result was a comprehensive database created for coordinating such volunteerism and donations in the future.
School-Based Learn & Serve
Dr. Cleo Arthur Boswell, Commissioner from the Illinois State Board of Education, gave the update. Dr. Boswell said ISBE is in the process of trying to hire someone to be a participant in ICVCS, but in the meantime Mike Mangan at IRC is trying to facilitate the grants correctly and they hope to maintain it with ISBE. Mr. Mangan may possibly attend the next ICVCS meeting. She said that she hopes ISBE and ICVCS can pull the annual Learn & Serve conference back together, as it was cancelled this last year.
Community-Based Learn & Serve
Brenda Letcher presented the update on CBLS. Ms. Letcher noted that we are in the 3rd (final) year of the current grant, and in the process of applying for the 2006-2009 funding cycle. March 7 is the CNCS deadline for both CBLS and School-Based Learn & Serve, with funding announcements in June 2006.
Commissioner Bassill asked whether ICVCS is working with the Lt. Governor’s office on Learn & Serve programming. Commissioner Lawrence replied yes ICVCS is willing to work with them, and that Ted Gibbs, who attended the last ICVCS meeting, is the liaison. Ms. Letcher noted that staff attended the Cesar Chavez Learn & Serve conference late last year, coordinated through the Lt. Governor’s office.
Senior Corps and VISTA
John Hosteny updated the Commission on the number of VISTA projects (41, comprising 63 counties and 160 volunteers) and Senior Corps projects (40) his office is currently supervising, with initiatives ranging from prisoner re-entry to co-operations with Habitat for Humanity and Big Brothers/Big Sisters, etc. He noted that two Illinois Senior Corps representatives were appointed to the White House Conference on Aging, and that those individuals brought forth two substantive recommendations to the conference on behalf of Illinois.
Mr. Hosteny indicated he had a recent meeting with Congressman Davis of Illinois, who is interested in prisoner re-entry initiatives. Hosteny also reminded the group of the March 8, 9, 10th Senior Corps conference in downtown Champaign, Illinois, and the May 11-12th Illinois Conference on Volunteer Administration (ICOVA) and noted the offering of the Volunteer Management certificate at ICOVA.
Paul Schrader, CNCS Area Manager
Mr. Hosteny then introduced again Mr. Paul Schrader, who thanked the Commission for their invitation to him to attend. (He noted that he attended graduate school at University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign). Mr. Schrader said that this visit was a courtesy call to the Commission, and that he is there to answer any questions Commissioners may have and to listen and learn. He also shared that the President’s budget for CNCS for fiscal year 2007, as proposed, reflects a slight reduction in Learn and Serve monies, and that AmeriCorps and Senior Corps funding is pretty much flat. He also said that the CNCS Service Center in Chicago is being consolidated and that CNCS is beginning to phase out AmeriCorps*NCCC, as it is so costly being a residential program.
Regarding the former “Unified State Plan,” now called the “State Service Plan,” Mr. Schrader indicated that the process is being simplified that three issues will be addressed in the Plan: Programming needs and plans to address them, Collaborations and major partners, and what support is needed from CNCS (besides funding). The tentative deadline for this Plan’s submission to CNCS area managers is June 2006. Mr. Schrader thanked the group for their cooperation and collaboration in Illinois, which he noted has always been good at. In conclusion, he entertained several questions from Commissioners regarding the State Service Plan, his role at CNCS, and the role of the State Commission in Illinois.
V. Old Business
AmeriCorps Activities Update
Michael Gaines and Lisa Hooker, Program Officers, presented the AmeriCorps program update. They noted that progress reports have recently been received from programs on their performance measures and outcomes from the 2004-05 program year. Also, the ICVCS Grantee Report to the CNCS was sent in. The month of March will bring site visits through which the Program Officers will present more individualized feedback to programs. Commissioners were presented with the Program Officers’ site visit schedule and were invited to contact Mr. Gaines or Ms. Hooker if they were interested in attending any of the visits.
Mr. Gaines and Ms. Hooker also indicated that since the last Commission meeting several significant events have been held. Opening Day on October 26th brought over 500 attendees – the largest ever – to Bloomington’s Interstate Conference Center. In November, Mr. Gaines attended a CNCS AmeriCorps Rulemaking Training in Minneapolis, MN. In December, a total of 128 national service program directors were trained at a series of two Cross-Streams National Service Trainings in Springfield and Chicago on the topic of program sustainability.
New Commissioner Appointments Status
Scott Kimmel indicated that we are still awaiting Commissioner appointments/reappointments. A list was forwarded through DHS and is now headed to the Governor’s Office. He indicated he met with Kim Fornero and Division Director Steven Guerra this past week and is attempting to impress the importance of the appointments. The goal is to have appointments resolved by the June meeting, but that will depend upon the Governor’s Office giving approval. After some discussion, Kim Fornero noted that the Department and ICVCS appreciate the Commissioners’ continued involvement so that we can continue to function and that staff is doing all that they can to resolve the issue.
CNCS Office of Inspector General Audit
The Commissioners were provided with the OIG Audit Response in their packets. Mr. Kimmel indicated he expects to hear back from them, but hasn’t yet. There was some discussion as to how helpful CNCS had been in the process, to which Mr. Kimmel indicated “very.” He noted the assistance of our Program Officer, Shohreh Kermani and also the assistance of Margo Jeanchild from TASC.
VI. New Business
AmeriCorps Administrative Standards Review
Mr. Kimmel indicated that he has been notified that CNCS will be performing an Administrative Standards Review (ASR) of the ICVCS sometime this summer. He will begin weekly meetings with our CNCS Program Officer, Shohreh Kermani beginning mid-February. After some discussion as to what an Administrative Standards Review entails, Mr. Gaines noted that Illinois performed very well in the last ASR five years ago.
America’s Service Commissions
Ms. Dorothy Miaso, ICVCS representative to America’s Service Commissions (ASC), reported that the organization is making progress with the hiring of a new executive director, based at the Points of Light offices. She said the board met last week and passed a budget, formed a public policy committee, and began some structural changes. Ms. Miaso indicated her term on the board is expiring and recommended Scott Kimmel replace her. There was discussion regarding whether or not to pay the ASC dues this year, and what the benefit was to ICVCS if they are a paying member. Mr. Kimmel said he would get more information about the benefits ASC offers before paying any dues.
Patrick Bader, second-year AmeriCorps member from Project YES at the Northwestern University Settlement House on Chicago’s west side, presented an update on the new LeaderCorps program for Illinois AmeriCorps members. Mr. Bader said the concept began at the April 2005 Leaders Training Conference, based on the need for sharing program experiences, resources, and keeping alumni connected. He distributed the first project of LeaderCorps, the “Volunteer Resource Cookbook..”
Scott Kimmel indicated the Commission’s role is trying to give LeaderCorps “legs” for sustainability and to assist with general administrative questions, facilitate member conference calls, etc. He has charged Mr. Bader and other leaders within LeaderCorps with drawing up the “blueprint” for this member/alumni organization such that it can survive the transient membership, and still contribute to cross-program and cross-streams communication and collaboration.
Dan Bassill commented that there should be a link to LeaderCorps on the ICVCS website, which prompted a brief website discussion. Mr. Kimmel indicated that he has been in contact with the state Webmaster, who is very interested in helping update the Commission’s website. Mr. Kimmel indicated his goal is to eventually see the ICVCS website become a single source of information on volunteerism and community service initiatives in Illinois, which in the longer term, will require significant changes to the current website design. Several Commissioners and staff noted the ongoing issue ICVCS faces with control and flexibility in changing their website.
The Commission then adjourned for 30 minutes for lunch, and reconvened at 12:35 PM.
VII. AmeriCorps Grant Proposals
Kim Fornero and Scott Kimmel introduced the summary documents with the AmeriCorps Competitive grant proposals for funding. They indicated that a series of “bidders conferences” were held in Chicago, Springfield and Mt. Vernon in December and early January. They described the process used in developing the Request for Proposals, hosting the bidders conferences, and answering subsequent questions. The deadline for all applications was January 24, 2006 at 5:00 PM. The review process entailed 36 DHS staff and commissioners. Ms. Fornero and Mr. Kimmel then described the review process which all applications underwent in order to be scored and categorized. Complete and detailed summaries of the results of the review process were distributed. Generally speaking, there were seven criteria considered for Competitive submissions to CNCS including CNCS priority areas, size/number of MSYs requested, geographic representation, and quality (scores/reviewer comments). Ms. Fornero and Mr. Kimmel then fielded questions from Commissioners about the process and about specific proposals. Fred Rodriguez moved to approve 18 of the 20 competitive submissions (except American Red Cross and Literacy Volunteers of Illinois, because representatives were in the room); Phillip Moore seconded. Motion passed unanimously. Fred Rodriguez then presented a motion to approve the American Red Cross and Literacy Volunteers of Illinois application, with their representatives stepping out of the room; Phillip Moore seconded. Motion passed unanimously.
The Commission then discussed “next steps” with regard to the next cycle of funding. Chairman Lawrence indicated that the proposals voted on today are not necessarily the only programs to be funded by ICVCS, and that these may not all be approved by CNCS for competitive funding. Mr. Kimmel noted that after notifying and providing technical assistance to those that have been approved today to be sent forward, we now await feedback from CNCS before we can move forward on the formula funded programs.
In conclusion, Kim Fornero praised the ICVCS staff for a real team effort through the labor intensive process of developing and reviewing proposals, and noted Scott Kimmel’s good leadership was critical to the process.
Chairman Dave Lawrence told Commissioners that Mr. Kimmel has requested they go through him, as the new Executive Director, if they have questions of staff at ICVCS. If Commissioners have questions about the Commission or their role on it, they can also contact Mr. Lawrence.
Fred Rodriguez moved to adjourn at 1:49 PM; Tim Capparelli seconded. Motion passed unanimously.