Response to the Treasurer’s Question on Earmarked Funds
April 27, 2013
Submitted by Nathan Fowler
I have been one of the people accessing some of the earmarked funds in the MassRID Treasury – specifically the line item marked “Betty” in the 2011 MassRID Meeting Treasurer’s report, and which is currently being referred to as “Foundations”. I would like first to provide some context to the use of these funds since Jan 2011, and second to suggest next steps.
The question as posed in English on the MassRID website (http://massrid.org/node/303) as of April 10, 2013 read:
Apparently, several years ago MassRID was hoping to have a series of workshops in the areas of Legal, K-12 and Foundations. $450 was gained from the initial Legal and K-12 workshops but the series was not continued. Foundations has actually been offered multiple times and profits are currently at $3600.
Additionally, sometimes we are asked to handle the finances for someone in the community putting together a workshop. The profits we have from these are currently $1300.
The question the treasurer will be posing to the membership is – what to do with those profits?
At the April 27th business meeting MassRID would like to hear ideas from members regarding solutions for this issue. If you have any questions please ask beforehand so we can maximize discussion time during the meeting.
In January 2011, I asked the MassRID executive board for access to the funds marked “Betty” in the Treasury for use as seed money to host Foundations I and II in Worcester, MA, which would attempt to draw participants from Massachusetts, as well as Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, the Capital Region of New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island. Foundations had not been hosted in Massachusetts in about 10 years. That workshop resulted in a financial surplus, which went back into the Treasury in the same line item in order to seed future Foundations workshops. At the time, I had hoped to plan a workshop series, Foundations 1 through 8. In emails with the Treasurer at the time, Cat Dvar, I made these intentions explicit, and asked whether it would be possible for the surplus to be held for this express purpose.
My intention in hosting Foundations was to run a zero-sum workshop at the lowest possible registration fee. I made arrangements with the Treasury that a surplus would be used as seed money for like-workshops. The workshop was never intended to turn a profit for MassRID, but to be a self-sustaining workshop series.
The nature of Foundations is such that a critical mass of participants (roughly 20) must have taken Foundations I and II in order to advance to Foundations III and IV, and then to V and VI, and ultimately to VII and VIII. Attrition makes it difficult to find enough registrants for higher levels, and results in higher registration fees and lower budget surplus. The availability of seed money from previous Foundations offerings helps offset the cost of registration and grant reductions to participants seeking financial assistance. Without seed money, the only way to host Foundations-type workshops, especially at higher levels, will be to fund raise within our community, or to further raise the cost of registration. Maintaining a “Foundations” line item will allow for our community to host future Foundations workshops, which have both been financially self-sustaining and a consistent draw for interpreters from around New England.
The cost and liability of running a workshop is high. The availability of seed money allows for the payment of initial costs, such as advertising, booking fees, and deposits for workshop space. Seed money also allows for reductions in the cost of registration fees, which compose a majority of the overall budget. It is not financially sound for MassRID to provide workshops that are likely to result in a loss; however, without the help of MassRID, it is all-but impossible for an individual in our community to host a workshop with a substantial budget – even a workshop that is likely to result in a profit - because of the risk of loss. Furthermore, an individual managing a budget takes on the added liability of appearing to earn income, especially when a profit is generated.
If MassRID is not the center for professional development, another entity will take its place. It is my preference that MassRID remain at the center of interpreter advancement. In full acknowledgement of the multiple roles that I hold, I offer this:
Presuming it is financially reasonable for MassRID, and presuming it a minimal additional burden to the Treasurer of MassRID, I support the maintaining of special funds - such as the line item for “Foundations” - in the appropriate MassRID bank account, whereby funds can be accessed at least roughly every six months. I would like to see a policy developed by the Treasurer, in conjunction with the executive board and other relevant parties, for the handling of current and future funds of this type. The policy might include, but is not limited to: a cap to the amount of money held in a particularly line item; permissions as to who may access earmarked funds; time limits for money held, and policies for handling expired monies; fees charged for maintaining of special funds; and protocol for requesting and approving special funds. The policy should explicitly describe how to manage funds that are currently in use, and given precedence, might reasonably be considered in use.
I believe this question is a matter of policy and it is the prerogative of the executive board that we elected to define it.
Although I am unable to attend the MassRID meeting on 4/27/13 because I am out of state for work, I appreciate the opportunity to supply both context as I know it, and my opinion on this topic. I have full faith in the membership and the executive board, and I ask that any questions, comments, or concerns about any of this commentary be directed back to me that I might more clearly elucidate my thoughts.
On June 7, 2012 from 6p - 8, the MCDHH Statewide Advisory Council met.
I asked about MCDHH's communication plan. It recently
wrote a contract that allows it to make accessible vlogs (English, ASL,
and English captioning). The cost of a typical vlog is about $500, most
of the cost of which is translation expenses, so vlogs must be made
judiciously given budget restraints. On a related note, the translation
of materials from English to ASL (or ASL to English) is costly. For
example, the translation of the interpreter contract, or perhaps the
interpreter manual, into ASL would cost $20,000. This does not mean the
pursuit of bilingual materials is futile. Given the situation, a way
has to be found.
Given the current economic climate and funding cuts over
the last few years, I asked whether it was time to bring in an external
organizational consultant. MCDHH responded that a consultant had been
considered but was too expensive. They report they have done their own
internal assessments and have four priority areas to help them achieve
their vision. Information about the priority areas (Effective
Government, Community Connected Services, Education, and Workforce
Development) can be found under mission and vision on the website: www.mass.gov/mcdhh.
With these remarks I am still left wondering about effective
communication. MCDHH no longer has a newsletter, and it has no person
or department responsible for active and intentional dissemination of
information, great and small. What have been your experiences in
communication with the Commission?
At the meeting, we discussed the Deaf Child's Rights
Bill, which has been in formulation for about 15 years and which has
finally reached an iteration that has the potential to be passed by the
legislature. The SAC reviewed the bill and made recommendations to the
Commissioner supporting the bill as written.
Good news from the interpreter referral department: the
department will soon acquire new software for interpreter referral that
should greatly improve the booking process for everyone involved.
Roll-out should begin the fall and early winter.
As always, if you have questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SAC meetings are open to the public, so feel free to attend. Please
notify MCDHH of your intention to attend. The SAC is always in search
of new members, and if you're interested, consider applying. Members
include Deaf and hard of hearing people, interpreters, educators of Deaf
students, individuals who work at independent living centers, and
more. If you're interested, contact me.
That's all for now. Thanks all.
Registration is now open for Foundations I and II with Betty
Colonomos, to be held at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA
from May 3-6 2012. This 20-hour workshop will be approved for 2.000 PS
CEUs. For more information about the workshop and CEUs, and to get a
registration form, contact Nathan Fowler: email@example.com.
Please note, this workshop is for hearing interpreters. There is a
workshop for Deaf interpreters and CDIs called Deaf Foundations, also
with Betty Colonomos. That is a different event.
I wanted to announce that I just became a member of the Mass Commission
for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Statewide Advisory Council (SAC). I am
not a representative of interpreters, or of MassRID, or of any other
group, but I am happy to do my best to make the proceedings of the SAC
known to the community, and to bring the concerns of the community to
the SAC meetings. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns,
feel free to be in touch. Thanks, all.
Nathan Fowler, NIC-A
RID Nationally Certified Interpreter
MCDHH SAC Member
Announcing our next General Business Meeting!
Where: 51 Wood Ave, Gil MA (Map)
When: Sunday September 18th, 2011
9am-12pm Professional Dialogue: Revisiting Standard Practices (CEUs available)
This will be a discussion led by Nathan Fowler and Evelyn Shields regarding our Standard Practices as Interpreters. Prior to their first meeting at Deaf Inc., Nathan and Evelyn conducted a survey regarding the decisions we make as interpreters and how we come to those decisions. Do we, in fact, follow "standard practices"?. Please click the blue links in this sentence if you'd like to see the report summary of their survey, and/or the notes from the first group discussion.
1pm-5pm General Business Meeting (agenda TBA)
Online Membership Registration is here!
I'm excited to announce the ability to join or renew membership with MassRID via MassRID.org!
To join/renew your MassRID membership online, please click on the Join MassRID link on the main page, underneath our main photo. This wil bring you to the registration page. Please fill in all required information, otherwise your submission will not be accepted.
Near the bottom of the first page, you'll notice this section:
When you create a profile by joining, other members (and only other members, not the general public) will be able to search for you via our new database. You have control over which items (phone numbers, addresses, etc) other members will be able to view when they search for you. As you can see above, all of the items are checked because by default this will make them all private. Please UNCHECK whichever pieces of information you wish to share with other members.
Once you've finished this page, please click submit and you'll be brought to this page:
Here you will choose your membership type (General/Student/Supporting/Organizational). Once you've selected, click on Pay Now and you'll be brought to Paypal. Via Paypal you can pay for your membership using a Paypal account or by using a credit card. Once you've made a payment, you'll receive a confirmation email. Within a few hours you'll receive an email from Web@MassRID.org welcoming you and giving you your username and password. From there you can go to MassRID.org and login, change your password, add a profile photo (optional), and search the database for other members.
Note: once you have registered the first time, you will not need to do so again each year to renew. Instead, you'll be able to renew on the website by logging into your profile and making a new payment.