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Changing Lives: How Merit + Snowflake Connected 120K Students to Critical Education Funding

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Major government programs are choosing Merit and Snowflake to elevate initiatives and enhance mission outcomes for citizens and students. Merit provides a digital platform and set of program delivery services that help run large-scale government programs in areas such as licensing regulations, workforce development, emergency management, and educational grants and scholarships. Leveraging the power of Snowflake’s Data Cloud, Merit’s platform allows government and education entities to share data, enabling secure, modern, and robust collaboration.

Connecting Government Agencies With the Power of Technology

By design, government and education programs are regulated and very complex. That’s where Merit and Snowflake step in—our modern approach helps accelerate digital transformation, connecting previously siloed systems, increasing operational efficiencies, and delivering better outcomes for constituents verifying digital credentials.

When connecting government agencies and departments, our collaboration goes beyond merely linking individuals to the government or vice versa. We enable true interoperability between government agencies–across state lines, within a state, and even within a single agency. Merit’s built-in governance features, like user verification, consent-driven sharing, and exportable audit trails, enable data security without compromising efficiency.  The event-driven architecture converts events to Snowflake’s relational tables, allowing rapid, accurate, and secure data delivery for the most crucial government programs. These programs also often see outdated legacy solutions; replacing them isn’t always an option. Merit layers onto Snowflake’s Data Cloud and enhances the wealth of already available data so that government partners can bring programs to life without added time or cost.

One of the use cases of our partnership includes delivering education programs such as the Ohio Afterschool Child Enrichment Program (Ohio ACE) and the Kansas Education Enrichment Program (KEEP). These programs require many moving parts: standing up the digital infrastructure, distributing the correct expenditure of funds, recruiting service providers, amplifying program awareness, and more. Trust is paramount to these programs, as specific errors could terminate programs with meaningful missions. Merit and Snowflake prioritize a secure and reliable infrastructure that safeguards participants' sensitive information, builds trust for our partners that drive successful government, and leverages data to ensure program integrity.

Let’s delve into these two specific government education programs and how Merit + Snowflake uses data for good and brings missions to reality.

Ohio ACE Emerges as a Game-Changing $125 Million Education Savings Account (ESA) Program

Government programs, including education initiatives like the Ohio Afterschool Child Enrichment (ACE) program, can be complex and involve numerous administrative obstacles. The Ohio ACE ESA program offers educational support to eligible students, aiding their recovery from the pandemic's effects by connecting them with resources they might not have access to otherwise. These resources include after-school camps,  music lessons, educational technologies, and more.

The Ohio Department of Education & Workforce (DEW) partnered with Merit, Powered by Snowflake, to deliver the program end-to-end, from ensuring the funds spent are on only permitted activities and services to gathering comprehensive data for the state legislature. The unique combination of technology and teams allowed DEW to pass the heavy lifting to a trusted partner that could set up a digital platform for families to access the Ohio ACE portal, distribute dollars through a digital wallet, recruit service providers, and amplify program awareness.

Snowflake’s Data Cloud was crucial in utilizing data to capture real-time information and effectively allocate funds. In only 18 months, the partnership led the comprehensive ESA program to become the most extensive supplemental ESA program in the country and:

  • Enrolled 75k+ students
  • Granted 115+ awards
  • Recruited over 1,200 qualified service providers

Kansas KEEP Strengthens Families with a $50 Million Education Program

In 2023, the Kansas Office of Recovery teamed up with Merit and Snowflake to bring the Kansas Education Enrichment Program (KEEP) to life. The education program provides eligible families with a one-time award of $1,000 per child to cover educational goods and services, including school supplies, tutoring, music lessons, and academic camps. With the same hurdles as Ohio ACE, administrative burdens, tight timelines, and secure distribution of funds, Kansas KEEP knew that entrusting technology and teams could help expedite processes and seamlessly administer the program.

The program has reached total capacity through this collaboration, benefiting nearly 50,000 Kansas students. State stakeholders now have a consolidated view of valuable program insights via Snowflake’s Data Cloud, allowing administrators to enhance targeting, evaluation, and analysis of program features for upcoming years. The impactful initiative has achieved record-setting outcomes, including:

  • Awarding nearly $50 million in program funds
  • Engaging over 250 qualified service providers,
  • Successfully filling the program in under 12 months.  

Continuing on the Path of Success

Merit and Snowflake are navigating extensive and impactful grants and scholarship programs nationwide, forging pathways that uplift and support the next generation of workers and learners. Merit’s platform, the hub for consolidating credentials and information in a centralized, secure web portal, is strengthened by Snowflake’s Data Cloud, and educational programs are connecting and uniting fragmented data sets into cohesive digital workflows.

As a result, families benefit from opportunities for their children through impactful programs such as Ohio ACE, the $125 million ESA program, and Kansas KEEP, the $50 million microgrant program. More recently, Merit, in collaboration with Snowflake, has supported a tax credit program with another state. We eagerly anticipate delivering essential outcomes for citizens and students as this program becomes fully operational. These education initiatives are made possible through the transformative power of Merit and Snowflake, using data for good to change lives.

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