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Merit Once Again Named a GovTech 100 Company

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Beginning 2024 on a high note – Merit was once again named a GovTech 100 company by Government Technology. The annual and exclusive list honors 100 companies focused on impacting state and local agencies nationwide, and we are humbled to be alongside many other esteemed companies.

In honor of this prestigious award, we’re taking a trip down memory lane and highlighting areas of impact throughout 2023, beginning with our education business line.

Merits for Education - Reaching New Heights for Tax Credit, Microgrant, and ESA Programs

Connecting families to critical education funding is one of our near and dear missions, and we believe that every child deserves the right to excel educationally, no matter their socioeconomic status. In 2023, we partnered with state programs such as Ohio Afterschool Child Enrichment (ACE), Kansas Education Enrichment Program (KEEP), and Oklahoma Parental Choice Tax Credit, utilizing our unique software and service combination to manage these large-scale initiatives efficiently. This approach alleviated the burden on staff and allowed us to establish programs in a matter of mere weeks.

Ohio ACE - The Department of Education and Workforce (DEW) partnered with Merit to support the Ohio ACE program by dispersing funds, setting up an online education marketplace, recruiting families and service providers, and ensuring the funds were spent correctly. The comprehensive ESA program reached capacity in record time this year.

  • 125M program funds allocated
  • 75K students enrolled
  • 115k award granted
  • 1200 qualified service providers
  • 18 months to completion

Kansas KEEP - Similar to the Ohio ACE program, Kansas KEEP reached its capacity in 2023, benefitting nearly 50,000 Kansas students who will receive a one-time $1,000 award for educational goods and services! We proudly partnered with Kansas KEEP to support the program and disperse money through a digital wallet, allowing parents to access local educational goods and services.

  • 50M program funds awarded
  • 225+ qualified service providers
  • 8 months program implementation

Oklahoma Parental Choice Tax Credit  - As 2023 wrapped up, Merit partnered with the Oklahoma Tax Commission to launch and administer the Oklahoma Parental Choice Tax Credit program. The program provides Oklahoma parents with up to $7,500 per tax year for private school expenses, tuition, and fees and also extends a $1,000 tax credit to parents who homeschool their children. In the first 90 minutes of the program launch, we received over 30,000 applications. Currently, there are approximately 140 accredited schools registered to the program. 

These meaningful programs illuminate the power of partnership, which transcended into our emergency management business line. 

Merits for Emergencies - Continuing to Support Communities and Lasting Partnerships  

Our Incident Management Team went into the field to stand by Floridians' side’ during Hurricane Idalia. We operated under the stakeholders' command to support every phase of the emergency management lifecycle, including preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation. Our emergency services team and technology allowed scene accountability at the State Emergency Operations Center. Our efforts supported thousands of first responders, tracking over five thousand meals and over 100,000 hours.

IAEM - International Association of Emergency Managers

We champion the friends we make along the way and annually sponsor and exhibit at emergency management events nationwide to show our support and keep up with new trends and certifications.  IAEM was one of the many conferences we attended, and we had a splash with our presence this year—our Director of Emergency Management Services, Lauren D. Bonica, led a session called “Making Waves of Change: Modern Technology for All Phases of Emergency Management.” With over 20 years of industry experience, Bonica explained the importance of whole community, and inclusive technology by empowering visibility, reliability, and accountability during disasters.  The session was packed with an interactive life safety crowd.

This brings us to the following business line: workforce development, which also had a star moment at an event this year. 

Merits for Workforce - Growing as a Leader in Empowering the Skills-Based Economy

We partnered with workforce agencies to develop a Learning and Employment Record (LER) ecosystem funded by the National Governors Association. The joint effort aimed to bolster local talent support and meaningful employment connections in Spokane, focusing on empowering workers of color, indigenous, low-income, rural workers, and those with disabilities. The community-driven approach supports a 70% statewide post-secondary attainment goal with LERs, contributing to talent pipelines, skill identification for job seekers, and fostering lasting partnerships. Our mixture of technology and advocacy works to support learners and job seekers in their career journey. 

The partnership gave us a story to share with our sponsorship at Horizons by JFF (Jobs for the Future), where we were joined by our partners at Washington’s Workforce Board for a speaking session. We addressed critical themes like common workforce challenges, embracing technology to fill the cracks and connect ecosystems,  and partnering and scaling for the future.  The session catalyzed other year-long initiatives that will help us better inform and serve workforce ecosystems, like our new skills-based learning webinar series. 

License Portability for Military Spouses  

Lastly, our involvement in the fight toward military reciprocity was a milestone. At Merit, we actively advocate for the mutual recognition of professional licenses for military families. This cause holds particular significance because many of our employees are veterans. Our team was crucial in this year's initiative to reduce barriers to military families finding employment after relocating. 

Merit participated in several Military Spouse roundtables organized by the ASPIRE Coalition, one of our trusted partners. During these events, we advocated for portability and embracing tools that enable military spouses to return to work faster with their licenses and credentials after relocating across state lines. Governor Reeves of Mississippi signed a proclamation calling on his administration to decrease barriers to employment for military spouses, including those out of state, due to a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) at the roundtable, paving the way for state change nationwide and joining like-minded states including Virginia and Kansas.

Wrapping Up The Year

The GovTech 100 2024 award reflects our commitment to excellence and innovation when serving state and local agencies. Reflecting on 2023, there were many highlights across our education, emergency management, workforce development, and licensing business lines. The actual award lies in our partnerships that made a difference for children, job seekers, communities, and military families in accessing the resources they deserve. We are committed to all of our partners and their continued success in 2024.

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