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Minutes - April 6, 2011

Location, Date, & Time

Illinois Department of Human Services
Video Conference Room
823 East Monroe Street
Springfield, IL 62701
Metcalfe Federal Building
GSA Conference Center (Room 330)
77 W. Jackson Blvd
Chicago, IL 60604

8:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

April 6, 2011

Commissioners Present

Jane Angelis, Judy Donath, Howard Lathan, Fred Nettles, Merri Dee, Bob McCammon, Nancy Jamison, Jill Heise, John Hosteny, Barb Tubekis, Steve Wolfe, Giraldo Rosales, Mike Mangan, Fred Rodriguez, Andrew Barbeau, Kathy Engelken, Genita Robinson, Lawrence Benito, Judy Swinson, Jocelyn Cheng

Commission Staff Present

Ted Gibbs, Executive Director; Lisa Fernandes, AmeriCorps Program Officer; Scott McFarland, Resources and Information Manager; Emily Ward, Graduate Public Service Intern, Lois Barnhardt, Disability Outreach Coordinator

Guests Present

Sarah Monroe, Corporation for National and Community Service State Office

Call to Order and Introductions

The meeting was called to order at 8:43 after technical difficulties. Heise thanked Lathan for his years of service to the committee and congratulated McFarland on being elected to the Springfield school board. Heise began a new start to the meeting by asking someone to read the Commission’s mission statement. Jamison volunteered and read it.

Approval of December 17 and February 18 Meeting Minutes

Rosales made a motion to approve the December meeting; Lathan seconded. Approved via voice vote. Rosales moved to accept the February meeting notes and Tubekis seconded. Approved via voice vote.

CNCS Report

Hosteny said there is currently no FY11 budget and the government is preparing for a shut down. This will affect grantees; they will probably close their doors because they have no money. Details about the shut down will be released tomorrow. The government will close Friday, April 8 at midnight unless an extension is announced tomorrow.

Spark, Inc , a non-profit from CA will work with 3 Chicago public schools to work with students as mentors/tutors and guide the students into high school. Their efforts will focus on high school graduation rates and grade performance.

There is a proposal to cut SeniorCorps funds by 20%. This cut will affect 38 programs that touch over 80 counties in Illinois. Programs will be cut and staff laid off if the cut occurs.

National Volunteer Week is April 10-15 this year.

Monroe sent an email to grantees asking them to support the Great U.S. Shakeout on April 28—most people don’t think about the central US being prone to earthquakes, but we are located along a major fault line. The program educates individuals on what to do if an earthquake occurs. More information is available on the website:

On May 3, the "New York Says Thank You" Foundation & RSVP of Northwest Suburban Cook County will bring a 9/11 flag to the Heinz VA hospital in Chicago. The ceremony is from 10-2 that day and open to the public.

Gibbs referenced the "Save Service" letter in the packet. The letter is signed by 12 governors who support service and the letter is directed toward leaders in Congress and the Speaker of the House. The letter advocates for service and demonstrates that cuts proposed in House Resolution 1 should not be continued.

Gibbs said he met with Senator Harkin, and Harkin supports national service—he wants funding to be similar to FY10. Gibbs said there are senators and individuals in the White House who are in favor of service.

Gibbs spoke with our fiscal officer; she said the payment system in the Commission will remain operational in the government shut down and AmeriCorps members will still be able to serve. We will still be able to pay AmeriCorps members during this time. If something should change, Gibbs said we will notify the programs and members. Hosteny said there are rumors PMS will be shut down. AmeriCorps programs will not shut down. Tomorrow we will know more information. McCammon inquired about VISTAs. Hosteny clarified that if there is a shut down, VISTAs must discontinue service. Jamison asked if RSVP would be affected. Hosteny said it could go either way. Tubekis said she met with 4 volunteer centers in NW IL and one RSVP center. They talked with Representatives about the importance of service and volunteer programs. She has called Kirk and Durbin to express these concerns, as well. She said 10,000 people have called their representatives to advocate for service. Gibbs referred to the site; this site showed Illinois was one of the top 5 states that have called senators to advocate for service.

Jamison said in the past government shut down, their state office was shut down but her office continued to work. It didn’t have an impact on her programs but it affected the country and those who were unable to work.

McCammon asked if our federal match was in danger due to financial troubles in Illinois. Gibbs said it was not in danger.

Commission Communications Plan

Heise would like to see more Committee meetings. She suggested the committees meet for awhile following commission meetings. In order to promote more participation, she suggested people on multiple committees may wish to pick which committee they will be able to have an impact on the most, and continue with only this committee. Heise will send committee descriptions and a list of members to all Commissioners so they can decide which committee will be the best fit for them. Upon deciding, Commissioners should let Heise know on which committee they would like to serve.

Heise also said committees should keep meeting minutes. Gibbs said agendas for all meetings should be sent out 10 days in advance.

Chair Report

a.) Resource Development 501C3- Sirek and Barbeau are working on moving forward with the development of this committee.

b.) Community Outreach- Rosales said his committee is scattered throughout the state so its hard to do anything collectively. It’s difficult to find a time when everyone can meet, even on the phone, and accomplish anything worthwhile. Jamison asked if the committee chairs have access to the Commission conference line; Gibbs said they do.

c.) Public Relations & Marketing- Dee said some companies have considered doing public service announcements to fill some empty spots they have. She thinks her committee should get together and figure out ways for the Commission to have visibility in the down time and increase their media support. They need to let the state know what the Commission does and what volunteers throughout the state are doing. Angelis inquired about a press release about the Governor’s Volunteer Service Awards; Gibbs said one is going out today through the Governors Office, and they will be released in the winners’ geographic regions as well.

d.) Executive Committee- This committee is still being formed.

Staff Reports

a.) AmeriCorps— Fernandes referenced the "Monitoring Tool" document in the packet. She explained how the Commission staff evaluates grantee programs and what is expected out of the programs, including reporting dates, time reporting, procedures for enrolling and exiting members, performance measures, financial compliance, and member documentation.

b.) Hosteny asked for clarification about the education awards for full time vs. half time vs. reduced half time members. Fernandes explained. Jamison asked how many hours full-time members work since there are 40 hours in a week, and that should equate to 2080 hours per year, but "full time" AmeriCorps members are required to work 1700 hours. Fernandes said some members work on weekends, some work mostly in the summer, etc. They do not work a full 40 hours each week since their requirement is only 1700 hours in a year. Hosteny said some VISTA members work 40-50 hours a week. McCammon said programs could have their members work full time for 2080 hours a year if they would like; 1700 is the minimum requirement. McCammon inquired about background checks. Fernandes said beginning April 21, Programs will be required to conduct state and federal background checks. Each program will cover this cost (which Gibbs said is about $80 per person.) Currently, Programs are required to conduct a state background check. Jamison asked for guidance on performing these tests. Fernandes said more information is included online in the FAQ section. Gibbs also clarified that Programs only need to conduct the FBI check on members enrolled after April 20th; members who were enrolled prior to April 21 do not have to pass one. Hosteny asked if a program site visit ever focused on outcomes instead of compliance. Fernandes said the visits focus on compliance. There is also an online survey members can complete so Commission staff can receive feedback and discuss this with the programs. This has been shown to be more effective than asking the members face-to-face for feedback. Hosteny asked about background checks for students who have lived overseas. Fernandes said the Corporation does not have a solution for this.

c.) LeaderCorps – McFarland discussed the upcoming LeaderCorps meetings on April 26 and 27. Members will be planning AmeriCorps Week at these meetings. The Alumni Committee will be sending out a survey to past AmeriCorps members to find out what they have been doing since their service.

d.) Volunteerism— McFarland said the Volunteer Management Network (VMN) is up and running again. Two meetings will occur in May; one will be in Chicago (May 4) and one will be in the Quad Cities (May 11.) The East Central Region will be having their conference on June 16. The remaining 4 regions will have their conferences in late summer/fall. Gibbs said a one-day ICOVA training conference may occur at the Federal Building in Chicago sometime in August, possibly Friday the 12th or Monday the 15th. Hosteny said they will be asking for feedback for training sessions to have at this conference. He said the building is accessible by public transportation and there is expensive parking nearby; cheaper parking is available farther down the block. He is hoping there will be no cost for the event outside of lunch and parking. The conference room has a capacity of 125 so it will be first come, first serve for registration. McCammon volunteered his AmeriCorps members for the event if they are needed. Gibbs reminded Commissioners that all regional conferences are open to people across the state, not just individuals who reside in that specific region. Jamison said the Western region will be featuring Betty Stahlings as the main speaker for the day. She said she would like to raise $1500 for Betty Stahlings conference materials and asked for assistance.

e.)— The most visits ever occurred on MLK Day. McFarland called for more marketing of the website.

f.) Disability Inclusion— McFarland discussed efforts that have been completed by Lois Barnhardt, Disability Outreach Coordinator—including distributing packets and informing high school students about AmeriCorps opportunities. The goal is to expand the Disability Inclusion program outside of the northwest region. We could do disability inclusion teams regionally or just one statewide team.

Old Business

a.) 2011 National Conference- Heise said if anyone is interested in attending the conference, let herself or Gibbs know why you would like to attend and what funds your program can contribute.

b.) 2012 National Conference Bid- Gibbs said we are still moving forward with plans for the conference in Chicago, but the formal announcement will not be made until June 8. Gibbs has spoken with representatives from New York regarding what role the Commission could play; their Executive Director and Chair both served on committees for the conference. Gibbs said he and Heise would talk with New York and Louisiana Commissions to discuss how they put together a host committee. Illinois commissioners may have the opportunity to be involved with this. Normally 5,000-6,000 people attend the National Conference.

c.) Serve Illinois Commission Staffing- Gibbs addressed staffing and restructuring. Division of Community Health and Prevention may be eliminated, but this proposal is still in flux. The Commission may have to change statue, or the division may be changed or a new division may be created. Gibbs does not think changes will affect the Commission’s goals and services.

Gibbs desires to have 7 full time employees working on the Commission Staff. A job posting has recently been listed for Scott Niermann’s past position. We are working on bringing in an AmeriCorps Training Officer and re-posting the AmeriCorps Program Officer position that was recently filled then vacated by Elizabeth Solomon. Gibbs said additional staffing is needed for all of the goals we hope to accomplish (ICOVA, etc.) Hosteny asked if the positions were civil service. Gibbs said two positions would be Union positions and one would be a contract position.

d.) AmeriCorps Formula RFP- Since we do not have a budget for last year, it is hard to send out an RFP because we don’t know if we can increase programs or if we will have to cut programs. Gibbs feels it is best to do a 3-year RFP or do one in the fall. In the fall, we could slate programs in for one year or three years. Barbeau inquired about possible cuts. Gibbs explained if 3 or 4 programs could get funded competitively, hopefully that would open some formulative slots. If not, we need to consider what programs could be reduced or eliminated. In the June meeting, we will have a recommendation of programs to be funded via formula grants. McCammon asked how the cuts would be determined. Gibbs said we would look at member recruitment and retention, progress reports, performance measures, monitoring compliance and an overall assessment of their ability to operate as an AmeriCorps program.

New Business

a.) Committee Work Strategy- Discussed earlier in the meeting

Public Participation

Fred Rodriquez attended the United States Hispanic Leadership Conference. Jane Angelis talked about a recent intergenerational forum she attended. The groups discussed the differences between generations and examined ways individuals could make a commitment to increase reading. They will work with the Illinois Reading Council to do this. McCammon discussed Youth Conservation Corp’s new building. The building will be showcased during AmeriCorps week on May 20. Gibbs explained the purpose of Dome Day, which will occur tomorrow. Heise said if anyone needs a name tag, email her.


Meeting was adjourned at 10:45 by Lathan and seconded by Rosales.