RD7 - Report to the Virginia General Assembly on the Work of the Governor's Advisory Board on Service and Volunteerism for 2020/2021

Executive Summary:

Article 25 (§ 2.2-2478 et seq.) of Chapter 24 of Title 2.2 of 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. This report documents the efforts and results achieved through the collaboration of the Board and Department of Social Services.

Powers and duties of the Board include:

• 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 DSS and other public and private entities to recognize and call attention to the significant community service contributions of Virginia citizens and organizations.

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

• Submit an annual report to the Governor and the General Assembly on the activity and work of the Board

Major activities and outcomes achieved during this report period include:

• In 2020/21, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) provided more than $34.7 million in federal funding (including Segal AmeriCorps Education awards) to support Virginia communities through national service initiatives. 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.

• Due to COVID-19 restrictions, training opportunities were conducted for AmeriCorps members and program staff virtually by industry experts. Members attended a virtual opening day event in September 2020 and another in Spring 2021 for new members, with training on a variety of topics including safety in the time of COVID, communications skills, AmeriCorps member program benefits, trauma-informed care, and diversity/equity/inclusion. Members also attended Life after AmeriCorps training at the close of their service year on topics such as continuing their service commitment, job opportunities with state government and federal government, public speaking, time management, financial wellness, and making the most out of the Segal Education Award. Training opportunities were provided virtually for AmeriCorps program staff, including four days of AmeriCorps 101training for new programs, as well as additional training on topics such as the role of AmeriCorps in disasters, special events planning monitoring programs, managing stress, community partnerships, AmeriCorps branding, member management, and diversity/equity/inclusion.

• There was a strong presence of the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) in Virginia. Teams of AmeriCorps members traveled to Virginia to serve by performing in 19 projects. NCCC teams contributed more than 32,000 total hours from 150 members. This translates to an economic benefit in Virginia of more than $900,000.

• With the help of the Board, Governor Northam selected winners of the 2020 Governor's Volunteerism and Community Service Awards. Winners, selected from 133 nominations, provided significant contributions in far reaching areas of the Commonwealth. Winners were recognized during the May 2021 Board meeting with a special virtual award presentation.

• The Board engaged in the development of a three- year State Service Plan process, which will be completed by the end of 2021. The State Service Plan will prioritize ways to increase participation among Virginians in service and volunteer activities, as well as recommend strategies to improve the capacity and quality of the volunteer and service ecosystem statewide.

• The General Assembly requested the Virginia Service Commission to study ways to increase national service and volunteer participation. A working group of inter-agency representatives met twice during the period to review and recommend strategies that will be incorporated into the State Service Plan, which will be completed for report back to the General Assembly by December 31, 2021.

The accomplishments and activities of the Board 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 of Virginians to tackle some of the most pressing challenges facing the Commonwealth.