RD666 - Report to the Virginia General Assembly on the Work of the Governor's Advisory Board on Service and Volunteerism 2019/2020

Executive Summary:

The Code of Virginia charges the Governor's Advisory Board on Service and Volunteerism (Board) with advising on matters related to promotion and development of national service in the Commonwealth and meeting the provisions of the federal National and Community Service Trust Act of 1993. The Board was established in compliance with the provisions of the National and Communities Trust Act of 1993, under which Virginia receives AmeriCorps State grant funds. The chairman of the Board must submit to the Governor and the General Assembly an annual report on the interim activity and work of the Board.

The following report documents the efforts and results achieved through the collaborative efforts of the Virginia Department of Social Services and the Board for July 2019-June 2020, to meet the power and duties of the Board as established in § 2.2-2481:

• Advise the Governor, the Secretaries of Health and Human Resources, Education, and Natural Resources, the Assistant to the Governor for Commonwealth Preparedness, the State Board of Social Services, and other appropriate officials on national and community service programs in Virginia in order to (i) fulfill the responsibilities and duties prescribed by the federal Corporation for National and Community Service and (ii) develop, implement, and evaluate the Virginia State Service Plan, which outlines strategies for supporting and expanding national and community service throughout the Commonwealth.

• Promote the use of AmeriCorps programs to meet Virginia's most pressing human, educational, environmental, and public safety needs.

• Collaborate with the Department of Social Services and other public and private entities to recognize and call attention to the significant community service contributions of Virginia citizens and organizations.

• Assist the Department of Social Services to promote the involvement of faith-based organizations in community and national service efforts.

Major activities and outcomes achieved during this report period include:

• More than 3,800 people of all ages and backgrounds helped to meet local needs, strengthen communities, and increase civic engagement through national service in Virginia. Serving at more than 400 locations, these citizens tutored and mentored children, helped fight the opioid epidemic, improved state parks, helped seniors live independently, responded to disasters, increased economic opportunity, and recruited and managed volunteers.

• In 2018/19, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) provided more than $10.5 million in federal funding (including Segal AmeriCorps Educational awards) to support Virginia communities through national service initiatives. Through this publicprivate partnership, this federal investment leveraged an additional $8.8 million in other resources to strengthen community impact. These initiatives were carried out by national service members and volunteers participating in AmeriCorps, VISTA, the Foster Grandparent Program, the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, and Senior Companions.

• In recognition of the unique and transferable skills that participants develop during national service, Virginia became the first state in the nation to be recognized as an "Employer of National Service." This initiative builds a talent pipeline to connect AmeriCorps and Peace Corps alumni with leading employers from private, public, and nonprofit sectors to create recruitment, hiring, and advancement opportunities as well as creating easier access by hiring managers to highly skilled and committed national service alumni.

• Throughout the year, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Virginia Office on Volunteerism and Community Service and Virginia Service Commission on AmeriCorps hosted in-person events. Due to the COVID-19 restrictions on large in-person gatherings, the Virginia Service Commission hosted the annual AmeriCorps Opening Day event virtually, which entailed a variety of topics based on statewide survey needs from AmeriCorps program directors and members. Trainings were conducted by industry experts on Working with Millennials, Planning a Budget, Unconscious Bias, and Taking Advantage of the Service Year Experience. Following COVID-19, new program directors/staff were trained virtually for four days of training on a variety of topics delivered by Office on Volunteerism Staff and industry experts. All program directors and staff were also trained virtually for three days on relevant program management topics, as well as a stand-alone virtual session on member recruitment.

• There was strong presence of the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) in Virginia. Teams of AmeriCorps members traveled to Virginia to serve by performing prescribed burns in Suffolk, assisting with shoreline cleanups in Chincoteague, home repairs in Abingdon, trail restoration in Lynchburg, and FEMA warehouse work in Northern Virginia. NCCC teams contributed more than 15,713 total hours from 61 members. This translates to an economic benefit in Virginia of more than $450,000.

• Working with the faith initiative Day to Serve, more than 250 volunteer service events were completed and thousands of pounds of food were donated to foodbanks. Day to Serve is a joint project of the Governors of Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia and the Mayor of the District of Columbia which encourages volunteerism among people from different faith groups and community organizations to improve the communities in which they live.

• With the help of the Board, Governor Northam selected winners of the 2020 Governor's Volunteerism and Community Service Awards. Winners, selected from more than 120 nominations, provided significant contributions in far reaching areas including providing hunger and financial relief, mentorship and assistance to at-risk students, creating resources for students with disabilities, and creating scholarships for young people through their passion for the arts. Winners will be recognized formally when COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted.

• The annual survey research conducted by CNCS provides volunteer statistics for Virginia in 2018: 2.2 million Virginians volunteered; 34% of Virginians volunteered for 232+ million hours; $5.5 billion in economic impact; and Virginia ranks in the top half of U.S. states for volunteerism.

The accomplishments and activities of the Governor's Advisory Board on Service and Volunteerism helped the citizens of the Commonwealth improve the lives of their fellow Virginians through service. Working hand in hand with local partners, the Board tapped the ingenuity and can-do spirit of Virginians to tackle some of the most pressing challenges facing the Commonwealth.