Maryland Volunteer Generation Fund boosts impact of volunteers in addressing critical community needs

Maryland VGF

This April, in honor of National Volunteer Month, we feature stories of how volunteers are impacting states and the ways in which state service commissions are leveraging the power of volunteers to meet critical local needs through their Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) activities. Learn more at statecommissions.org/volunteer-generation-fund.

MARYLAND. The Maryland Governor’s Office on Service and Volunteerism (GOSV), the state service commission in the “Old Line State,” is a critical part of the Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives. Through the use of federal dollars, it funds 19 AmeriCorps State programs in 2016-2017 program year to support disaster services, economic opportunity, education, environmental stewardship, healthy futures, and veterans and military families in Maryland.

Established in 1993, the office advocates for effective volunteer program management and recognizes volunteer service across the state on behalf of the Governor of Maryland. Each year, over 200,000 Maryland volunteers are recognized by the Governor’s Office through activities and services provided by the Governor’s Office on Service and Volunteerism.

The Maryland GOSV also funds ten volunteer connector organizations and Maryland Volunteer Centers through the Volunteer Generation Fund to increase their ability to recruit and retain volunteers in diverse opportunities, as well as increase the organizations’ usage of effective volunteer management practices. The ten Volunteer Generation Fund grantees then utilize these funds to boost the impact of volunteers in addressing critical community needs.

Below is one story written by Maryland Commissioner Krista Gilmore of Cecil County Department of Community Services, who serves as the volunteer and community resource coordinator and has seen firsthand the impact VGF funds are having on Cecil County:

 

“Reflections on Cecil Cares and Two Exceptional Community Volunteers”

By Krista Gilmore, Commissioner, Maryland Governor’s Commission on Service and Volunteerism

Each September, Volunteer Cecil sponsors Cecil Cares, which is a countywide day of service. We asked two of the members of the Cecil Cares Planning Team to share their thoughts on their involvement with the 2016 – and now 2017 – project, and here is what they had to say:

“I would like to start by saying how hard it is to put on paper my excitement for Cecil Cares 2016. I am very passionate about giving back and helping our community. To be a member of the planning team is a huge honor. Last year I, along with other volunteers, helped out at The Fair Hill Nature Center. We worked hard raking, planting, painting, and I had the pleasure of meeting new and wonderful people of our beautiful county (all while helping spruce up the gorgeous Fair Hill Nature Center!). I am very excited for Cecil Cares 2017!! I believe it is a great way to bring our community together for one day to give back. We worked hard, laughed and joked. I went home feeling great not just for doing a good deed but because of all the wonderful new neighbors that I met on that day!”

“Thanks for a successful Cecil Cares Project. As a unique community service project for nonprofits, volunteers and businesses, the work day was exceptional. First, I enjoyed networking, brainstorming and working with a variety of organizations throughout Cecil County who organized, promoted and secured the projects for our day of service. Next, partnering with businesses, religious organizations, schools, county government and nonprofit groups provided a connection for everyone. Finally, as a member of the Cecil Cares committee, a board member of the Fair Hill Nature Center, and a member of St. Mary Anne’s Episcopal Church, I had a front row seat regarding the preparation of this event. The church was a sponsor for one of the projects, and provided a community of volunteers to participate during our day of service to Cecil County. I can’t wait until next year, as we grow this legacy throughout Cecil County!”

In addition to our work on Cecil Cares, one of our goals for Volunteer Cecil is to celebrate volunteerism, and to tell the stories that are often overlooked. We look for people and events to showcase even when they are not included in our formal VGF reports. Two local residents were recently honored for their service: Ralph Young was inducted into the Maryland Senior Citizens Hall of Fame, and Wilma Clay celebrated 25 years of service as a Home Delivered Meal volunteer! We are proud to know them [and] to highlight their service.

To learn more about Maryland’s Volunteer Generation Fund initiative and programming, visit gosv.maryland.gov/our-volunteer-generation-fund-grantees/.

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Volunteer Mississippi engages 96,000 in volunteer service thanks to Volunteer Generation Fund

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This April, in honor of National Volunteer Month, we’ll be featuring stories of how volunteers are impacting states and the ways in which state service commissions are leveraging the power of volunteers to meet critical local needs through their Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) activities. Learn more at statecommissions.org/volunteer-generation-fund.

MISSISSIPPI. The mission of Volunteer Mississippi, the state commission on service and volunteerism in the Magnolia State, is to to engage and support Mississippians of all ages and backgrounds in service to their communities. Established in 1994 as the Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service (MCVS), Volunteer Mississippi also administers the state’s volunteer center network with support from the Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF), helping mobilize volunteers in support of state and local priorities.

Last year, thanks to Volunteer Generation Fund support from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the Mississippi Volunteer Center Network recruited or managed an overall total of 96,550 individual and group volunteers that served 875,246 hours for a wide range of causes throughout the state. Of the total number of volunteers, 51,981 were new volunteers who served 472,271 hours.

In addition, capacity building trainings were offered to 1,362 nonprofit participants — resulting in 167 nonprofit partners implementing 3 or more effective volunteer management practices.  The largest number of volunteers were active with programs that served Children and Family Services & Advocacy, Education, Hunger and Homelessness, and Disaster Services. Volunteer Centers hosted food, clothing, necessities and toy drives, and recruited volunteers to feed the homeless, build Habitat houses, read to children, and clean up parks and waterways. Volunteer Centers planned events and engaged 11,708 volunteers in projects for Family Volunteer Day in November; Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service in January; National Volunteer Week and Global Youth Service Day in April; 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance in September and Make a Difference Day in October, in addition to regional days of service like Day of Caring, Alternative Spring Break, the Big Event, and The Cotton Festival.

This year, 2017 is starting off strong with more than 31,000 volunteer engagements reported – 1,642 of those from Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service educational events, parades, breakfasts and community projects. Volunteer Centers around the state will be recognizing volunteers in the month of April with celebration dinners and lunches, and press conferences. Several Global Youth Service Day events are scheduled, with Volunteer Starkville as the lead agency this year.

To learn more about Volunteer Mississippi’s VGF program and subgrantees, visit volunteermississippi.org/.

Virginia’s Volunteer Generation Fund programs give back, help others from ‘cradle to career’

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This April, in honor of National Volunteer Month, we’ll be featuring stories of how volunteers are impacting states and the ways in which state service commissions are leveraging the power of volunteers to meet critical local needs through their Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) activities. Learn more at statecommissions.org/volunteer-generation-fund.

VIRGINIA. The mission of Virginia Service, the state commission on service and volunteerism in the “Old Dominion,” is to strengthen communities by inspiring Virginians to actively engage, volunteer, and serve. Virginia Service also administers the state’s Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) program, providing subgrants to organizations that mobilize volunteers in support of state and local priorities.

Virginia is now in its third year of programming through the Volunteer Generation Fund.  The VGF program builds volunteer capacity in Virginia through local subgrantees who then work to increase the number of active volunteers and volunteer hours, as well as to strengthen volunteer organizations by incorporating effective volunteer management practices into their program operations.  The biggest overall impacts to date have been increased volunteer capacity throughout the state, improvement in organizations’ volunteer management practices, and heightened awareness of and appreciation for volunteers and the value they bring to an organization and the community.

The Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) in Virginia is comprised of four subgrantees in southwest, northern and central Virginia:

  1. The Appalachian Community Action and Development Agency focuses on volunteer activities for a mentoring program for high school seniors and an early childhood reading program for children of families utilizing local food pantries.
  2. Community Residences supports volunteers who provide assistance to individuals with mental health needs and intellectual disabilities through community housing property management, direct service, community engagement, and volunteer program administration and recruitment.
  3. The Council on Community Services is implementing a school-based volunteer program in the Roanoke Valley –  with the intention of replicating their model in other localities.
  4. The United Way of Southwest Virginia supports the agency’s “cradle to career” focus and provides tutoring for elementary school students who need assistance with reading and/or math skills; enhances middle school, high school and post-secondary achievement among local youth; and assists local agencies with the recruitment and retention of volunteers.
The VGF program also supports special large-scale volunteer day events. In January, Virginia’s Volunteer Generation Fund programs honored MLK Day with service events and projects designed to impact their communties. In Roanoke, the Council of Community Services teamed up with The Advancement Foundation, a local AmeriCorps program, to host a financial literacy workshop. In Scott and Lee counties, Appalachian Community Action and Development’s VGF program collected personal hygiene items and donated to low income individuals and families. In Northern Virginia, Community Residences, Inc., partnered with the Target location in Burke to visit one of their residences to clean up and visit with residents. Volunteers also worked with the Tysons Corner Maggiano’s to prepare meals for home residents and teach them cooking skills. In Abingdon, the United Way of Southwest Virginia recruited volunteers to participate in a celebration that included a discussion on race relations in Southwest Virginia, followed by a unity march. Volunteers also painted and repaired the Charles Wesley Church parsonage. Click here to read the Bristol Herald Courier’s newspaper article about the MLK Day service projects.

In February, the United Way of Southwest Virginia became a certifying organization for the President’s Volunteer Service Award. Organizations and individuals in Southwest Virginia can now nominate outstanding volunteers for this award which was created by the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation.

In March, the United Way of Southwest Virginia celebrated the companies and individuals whose contributions to the organization in 2016 had a direct impact on the lives of working families in Southwest Virginia at the 2017 Impact Awards in Abingdon. The awards acknowledged volunteers, individuals, employee groups and corporations who lent their outstanding support to volunteer efforts, the campaign, and impact initiatives. The Volunteer of the Year in Education award went to Kent Berryman for his volunteer service with Smart Beginnings, an United Way program that works to improve access and quality of service to families with small children. The Volunteer of the Year in Financial Stability was presented to Virginia Cooperative Extension – Southwest District for their regional efforts in preparing students for their future with initiatives such as reality stores and career fairs. The Volunteer of the Year in Health award recipient was Chris Owens who has been instrumental in her leadership with the Healthy Community Action Team (HCAT) in Smyth County. Click here to view a full listing of the award recipients.

To learn more about Virginia Service’s VGF program and subgrantees, visit virginiaservice.virginia.gov/.

 

Volunteer Generation Fund makes skill-based volunteering a pathway to employment for Floridians

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This April, in honor of National Volunteer Month, we’ll be featuring stories of how volunteers are impacting states and the ways in which state service commissions are leveraging the power of volunteers to meet critical local needs through their Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) activities. Learn more at statecommissions.org/volunteer-generation-fund.

FLORIDA. The mission of Volunteer Florida, the state service commission in the Sunshine State, is to strengthen communities through national service, fostering volunteerism, and leveraging resources. Volunteer Florida also administers the state’s Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) program, providing subgrants to organizations that mobilize volunteers in support of state and local priorities.

Volunteer Florida’s Volunteer Generation Fund is a unique skills-based volunteer program that builds capacity for nonprofits and service organizations and uses volunteerism as a pathway to work. VGF funding helps organizations to more effectively recruit, manage, and retain skills-based volunteers to serve in high value volunteer assignments. Skills-based volunteering leverages the experience, talents and education of volunteers such as accountants, attorneys, and IT professionals and matches them with the needs of nonprofits. Sub-grantees also receive comprehensive training, funding for program enhancements and ongoing technical assistance, and coaching to establish or strengthen their skills-based volunteer program.

In 2016, Volunteer Florida invested $212,500 in grants for 20 Florida nonprofits. These 20 Volunteer Generation Fund sub-grantees recruited 13,507 skills based volunteers who served 166,080 hours – a value of over $3.6 million.

VF is especially proud that nine of the 20 grantees opted into the Volunteer Florida RFP priority area of STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) programs and the My Brother’s Keeper initiative.

Six STEM based grantees recruit volunteers to promote and engage students from groups traditionally underrepresented in STEM careers and engage STEM professionals as volunteers. Those organizations include Boys and Girls Club of Palm Beach County, BRACE, Growing Hope Foundation, Junior Achievement of North Florida, Parker Street Ministries, and the Tallahassee Museum.

My Brother’s Keeper initiative was launched to address persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color and ensure that all young people can reach their full potential. Through this initiative, local governments, business communities, and foundations aim to connect young people to mentoring, support networks, and the skills they need to secure employment and post-secondary education. The Volunteer Florida VGF sub-grantees supporting the My Brother’s Keeper initiative include Boys and Girls Club of Palm Beach County, Catholic Volunteers in Florida, Chapman Partnership, Family Support Services of North Florida, and Parker Street Ministries.

Impact Stories:

Catholic Volunteers in Florida Incorporated

Catholic Volunteers in Florida Inc. provides support to the St. Vincent de Paul Re-Entry Project, which improve job access and economic opportunities for formerly incarcerated individuals across the state of Florida. The Vincentian Re-Entry Project connects people across differences in race, income, age, and life experience to make a positive difference in addressing public policy and structural change that allows greater opportunities for formerly incarcerated individuals. All volunteer activities associated with the St. Vincent de Paul ReEntry Project relate to the My Brothers Keeper Initiative with the focus on increasing job opportunities for young men of color to enter the workforce, specifically men of color who are formerly incarcerated and face enormous barriers to securing a job because of their conviction. Catholic Volunteers in Florida Inc. engaged 237 skills based volunteers contributing 2,336 hours of service in 2016.

The Lightner Museum of Hobbies

The Lightner Museum is a nonprofit museum in the historic downtown district of St. Augustine. Skills-based volunteers will create public learning experiences in each of the Museum’s gallery spaces and support education initiatives. Volunteers are trained and provide visitors with history and information on our collections. They also lead school tours and adult tours. Volunteers contribute to our online blog, social media and write a quarterly newsletter. Through the Volunteer Generation Fund, The Lightner Museum has worked on modernizing their volunteer program. They’ve expanded volunteer descriptions and the application process, along with updating their volunteer policies and procedures. Many of these activities were also facilitated through the skills based volunteers who work in the office. The Lightner Museum of Hobbies engaged 154 skills based volunteers contributing 4,182 hours of service.

To learn more about Volunteer Florida’s VGF program and subgrantees, visit volunteerflorida.org/grants/#vgf.

Volunteer Generation Fund makes Community Radio Possible in King County, Washington through Volunteer Manager Corps (VMC)

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This April, in honor of National Volunteer Month, we’ll be featuring stories of how volunteers are impacting states and the ways in which state service commissions are leveraging the power of volunteers to meet critical local needs through their Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) activities. Learn more at statecommissions.org/volunteer-generation-fund.

WASHINGTON. The mission of Serve Washington, the state service commission in the Evergreen State, is to advance national service, volunteerism and civic engagement to improve lives; expand opportunity to meet the local critical needs of residents of Washington; and strengthen community capacity while creating healthy and resilient communities. Serve Washington administers the state’s Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) program, providing subgrants to two major entities that mobilize volunteers in support of state and local priorities: 501 Commons (a non-profit organization) and a statewide association called Volunteer Centers of Washington (VCW).  The VCW provides mini-grants to volunteer centers in Washington State with VGF funds.

501 Commons uses VGF funds to add a group of low-power FM (LPFM) King County radio stations to their Volunteer Manager Corps (VMC) Program.  Through these nonprofit, commercial-free media outlets, anyone can become part of the voice of their surrounding area, whether that takes the form of starting conversations, sharing health and emergency response information or featuring musicians, artists and other forms of local culture.

Volunteer committees are the building blocks of the community radio model, however, these stations do not currently have the internal resources necessary to fully involve volunteers in the support of their mission. The VMC program helps foster the development and growth of these stations by creating a volunteer management toolkit that lays the ground work for their success.

VMC members help develop the infrastructure necessary for the stations to effectively recruit, engage and retain high-value volunteers. These key volunteers work behind the scenes with 7 stations to create a volunteer management toolkit including:
Position descriptions for essential volunteer roles
An outline of a volunteer orientation
A volunteer handbook
A volunteer screening process
A volunteer feedback survey

LPFM Background:
Each of these stations is a member of the Puget Sound Community Radio Cohort (PSCRC), the nation’s first alliance for nonprofit radio station applicants to pool resources and foster a learning community.  The goal of the LPFM Accelerator and consulting engagement with 501 Commons is to build organizational capacity with a specific focus on fundraising, volunteer management and equitable community outreach that informs, engages and mirrors the LPFM Accelerator’s target audiences.

The LPFM Accelerator Stakeholders are:
Debra Twersky, 4Culture
Debra Webb, 501 Commons
Sabrina Roach, Brown Paper Tickets
Ernesto Aguilar, National Federation of Community Broadcasters
Antoine Heywood, Alliance for Community Media and PhillyCAM (Public Access Center with LPFM)

LPFM Accelerator Participants include:
Earth on the Air Radio
Fulcrum Community Radio
Hollow Earth Radio
Magnuson Radio
One America
Valley Radio
Rainier Valley Radio

The work is further strengthened by the contributions of Racial Equity Advisors:
Sahar Fathi, City of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods
Vicky Yuki and Delia Burke, Seattle IT’s Community Technology Program
Diana Falchuck, Seattle Race and Social Justice Initiative Strategic Advisor
Valerie Wonder and Davida Ingram, Seattle Public Library

You can read more about LPFM here.

To learn more about Serve Washington and its programs, visit servewashington.wa.gov/.

Volunteer Generation Fund Makes an Impact on Mentoring, Youth in Tennessee

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This April, in honor of National Volunteer Month, we’ll be featuring stories of how volunteers are impacting states and the ways in which state service commissions are leveraging the power of volunteers to meet critical local needs through their Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) activities. Learn more at statecommissions.org/volunteer-generation-fund.

TENNESSEE. The mission of Volunteer Tennessee, the state service commission in the Volunteer state, is to encourage volunteerism and community service. Volunteer Tennessee administers the state’s Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) program, providing subgrants to different community organizations throughout the state who mobilize volunteers in support of state and local priorities.

Since 2014, Volunteer Tennessee has led the Tennessee Volunteer Generation Fund Coalition in an effort to increase volunteer recruitment and expand the use of volunteers to address education challenges in Tennessee.  In 2017, Coalition members Hands On Nashville, the Tennessee Board of Regents, the United Way of Greater Chattanooga, the United Way of Greater Knoxville, United Way of Williamson County, and Volunteer Memphis will recruit 8,000 volunteers and assist 40 organizations in implementing effective practices to build capacity in the areas of volunteer recruitment and volunteer management.

Hands On Nashville (HON): Through youth programming, HON will provide 6,500 opportunities to engage youth, the majority of whom are economically disadvantaged, in 15,000 hours of education/civic action during out-of-school time.

Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR): The Tennessee Board of Regents will advance the goals of Tennessee’s Promise, a program that allows high school graduates to attend TN community colleges for free in exchange for 8 hours of community service before college and 8 hours each semester of enrollment. TBR will work with member institutions to develop a central service data warehouse. TBR will mobilize 40 Tennessee Promise scholars to address education challenges and assist 19 partner institutions with the implementation of volunteer management best practices.

United Way of Greater Chattanooga (UWGC): The UWGC’s Chattanooga Literacy Initiative Mentor Volunteer Program (MVP) gives students across Hamilton County access to free reading and mentoring services at locations in neighborhoods with the greatest need for additional educational services.

United Way of Greater Knoxville (UWGK): UWGK will increase volunteer engagement in Community Schools in Knox County. The percentage of 3rd, 5th and 8th graders proficient or advanced in reading/language arts will increase by 5% annually.

United Way of Williamson County (UWWC): UWWC works with volunteers through their Raise Your Hand program to tutor 2nd, 3rd and 4th grade children in reading and math skills in Williamson County.  100% of the students in the program are expected to increase their Standardized Testing and Reporting Scores after one year, and 77% will read at grade level by the time they have completed one year in the program.

Volunteer Memphis: Volunteer Memphis will enlist 300 new volunteers who will perform 4,500 hours of service; engage parents, community and faith leaders as volunteers in urban schools and neighborhood centers; and promote the FAFSA Prep Project to improve post-secondary enrollment rates in Memphis and Shelby County.

The success of United Way of Greater Chattanooga’s (UWGC) mentoring program is but one example of the significant impact of VGF funds. The VGF grant is helping UWGC to succeed in its role as the city’s convener around the mentoring initiative. Community collaboration adds value by providing advocacy through a strong “common voice” and raising public awareness of the need for mentoring. Mentoring is too big, risky and complex for one organization alone. Shared learning and best practices can more easily transfer across partnering organizations in a way that avoids past pitfalls and accelerates effectiveness. Creating a network of effective support for those committed to providing sustained mentoring opportunities for Chattanooga youth will increase endurance. Strategic coordination and planning opportunities assists in filling gaps, avoiding duplication, and addressing and avoiding potential conflict between those involved in mentoring initiatives. UWGC is currently working with many collaborative partners to develop a strategic plan for the mentoring initiative. Partners include local schools (both private and public); local foundations; youth nonprofits and organizations; the City of Chattanooga; local businesses; and faith organizations. The goal of the initiative is to ensure that every child in Hamilton County who needs a mentor is connected to a mentor and Chattanooga is established as a national “benchmark” city for effectively mentoring its children and youth, which supports the Chattanooga 2.0 goals. Through these partnerships, more than 700 mentor volunteers stand ready to be trained and connect to youth in the city.

As we prepare to wrap up the current three year grant cycle, Volunteer Tennessee is excited to see how the Coalition continues to increase the number of volunteers in the field of education, advancing our mission of encouraging volunteerism and community service across Tennessee.

To learn more about Volunteer Tennessee and its programs, visit volunteertennessee.net.

April is National Volunteer Month | Volunteer Generation Fund Makes an Impact on Hunger, Health in Iowa

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This April, in honor of National Volunteer Month, we’ll be featuring stories of how volunteers are impacting states and the ways in which state service commissions are leveraging the power of volunteers to meet critical local needs through their Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) activities. Learn more at statecommissions.org/volunteer-generation-fund.

IOWA. The mission of Volunteer Iowa, the state service commission in the Hawkeye state, is to improve lives, strengthen communities, and foster civic engagement through service and volunteering. Volunteer Iowa administers the state’s Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) program, providing subgrants to 5 different community organizations throughout the state who mobilize volunteers in support of state and local priorities.

One such VGF subgrantee, the United Way of Wapello County Volunteer Center in Ottumwa, has mobilized more than 100 unique volunteers in 600 hours of service to address the issues of hunger and access to healthy food in their community. The organization hosts a food pantry garden sponsored by corporations and community groups. The garden is also supported with skill-based volunteer positions including Spanish language interpreters, Master Gardeners, local engineers, and soil quality experts.

Volunteers help build and repair raised beds, till the soil, plant the produce, regularly mow, weed, pick produce, and tend bee hives. Volunteers also constructed an arbor and bench for visitors to the garden. The over 4,000 pounds of produce grown during this year, and was donated to the local food bank and meal sites. Several neighborhood-based community gardens were organized, where local residents raised their own garden produce.  Volunteers express satisfaction in getting outside and giving back, and community members benefit from healthy fresh produce.

During this time period they also hosted four gardening classes led by skill-based volunteers covering the subjects of beekeeping, starting seeds, fertilizing, and making pollinator seed bombs. The classes were free of charge and open to the public.

To learn more about Volunteer Iowa and its programs, visit volunteeriowa.org/icvs-programs.