How Snowflake and Merit Helped Provide Over 120,000 Students with Access to Education Funding 

Snowflake joined forces with Merit to provide a digital platform and a 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. By augmenting the power of the Snowflake Data Cloud with Merit’s platform, Snowflake is enabling government and education entities to share data and empower secure, modern and robust collaboration. 

Connecting government agencies through the power of integrated technologies

By design, government and education programs are regulated and complex. That’s where Snowflake and Merit stepped in. Our modern approach accelerates digital transformation, connects previously siloed systems, increases operational efficiencies, and can deliver better outcomes for constituents verifying digital credentials.

Snowflake partnered with Merit to go beyond merely linking individuals to government or vice versa. Instead, we combined our capabilities to enable 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, enabling rapid, accurate, and secure data delivery for the most crucial government programs — ultimately benefiting more people, more smoothly. 

These programs also often run on outdated legacy solutions that can’t always be replaced. Snowflake’s Data Cloud integrates with the Merit platform to enhance the wealth of already available data, enabling government partners to bring programs to life in a timely and cost-effective manner. 

The partnership in action

One of the use cases of Snowflake’s partnership with Merit is the delivery of “direct to beneficiary” educational programs such as the Ohio Afterschool Child Enrichment (ACE) program and the Kansas Education Enrichment Program (KEEP). These programs involve many interconnected requirements, including standing up the digital infrastructure, distributing and ensuring the correct expenditure of funds, recruiting service providers, and amplifying program awareness. Trust is paramount, as errors could lead to program termination. With Merit and Snowflake, customers can prioritize a secure and reliable infrastructure that safeguards participants’ sensitive information while building partner trust — ultimately driving successful government operations by leveraging data for a holistic view that ensures program integrity.

Let’s delve into these three specific educational-choice programs and how Snowflake integrates with Merit to support their use of data for good and make their meaningful program missions a reality — providing more than 120,000 students with access to funding so far, and set to grow. 

Ohio ACE emerges as a game-changing $125 million education savings account program

The Ohio ACE education savings account (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 Snowflake and Merit to deliver the 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 the DEW to tap a trusted partner to set up a digital platform that allows 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 achieve critical goals:

  • 75,000+ students enrolled
  • 115+ awards granted
  • 1,200 qualified service providers recruited

Kansas KEEP strengthens families with a $50 million education program

In 2023, the Kansas Office of Recovery partnered with Merit and Snowflake to bring the Kansas Education Enrichment Program (KEEP) to life. The educational 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. Faced with the same hurdles as the Ohio ACE — administrative burdens, tight timelines, and challenges to securely distributing funds — Kansas KEEP knew that engaging trusted technologies and teams could help expedite processes and streamline program administration. 

Through Snowflake’s collaboration with Merit, the program has reached total recipient capacity, benefiting nearly 50,000 Kansas students. State stakeholders now have a single source of truth for valuable program insights via Snowflake’s Data Cloud. This allows administrators to enhance targeting, evaluation and analysis of program features for upcoming years. The impactful initiative has achieved record-setting outcomes:

  • $50 million in program funds awarded
  • 225+ qualified service providers engaged
  • 8-month successful program implementation  

Our latest endeavor: Oklahoma PCTC fuels economic growth with a $150 million tax credit program

The Oklahoma Tax Commission chose Merit as its operational partner for administering the Parental Choice Tax Credit (PCTC) at the end of 2023. Using Snowflake’s Data Cloud, Oklahoma PCTC can ingest verified data from numerous sources, enabling data-driven decisions and uncovering new impacts and opportunities — all through a unified view. 

The program gives eligible Oklahoma families a refundable income tax credit of up to $7,500, to apply to qualified private school tuition expenses and fees. It requires taxpayers to apply with an enrollment verification form and requires private schools to register online, validating their enrollment through online form generation. The program’s rollout in December 2023 was processed in record time—in the first 90 minutes after it went online, more than 30,000 applications were uploaded. Snowflake and Merit remain optimistic about the program’s ongoing success and its continued support of parents in making the best educational choices for their families.

The program’s rollout in December 2023 was processed in record time — in the first 90 minutes after it went online, more than 30,000 applications were uploaded.

Continuing on the path of successful partnership 

Snowflake will continue to partner with Merit to help joint customers navigate extensive and impactful grants and scholarship programs nationwide, forging pathways that uplift and support the next generation of workers and learners. Snowflake’s Data Cloud is strengthened by Merit’s hub for consolidating credentials and information in a centralized, secure web portal. And educational-choice programs are connecting and uniting fragmented data sets into cohesive digital workflows thanks to the technological partnership. 

“Snowflake’s Data Cloud strengthens Merit’s offering by ingesting, securely storing, and cleaning constituent data at the scale required, in the timeframe necessary, and with the proper data privacy rails in place,” said Mike Murphy, VP of Customer and Delivery Marketing at Merit.  “Together, we drive success for our government partners, local and national businesses, and hundreds of thousands of families who can receive access to important academic support. The work we do together is truly meaningful. ”

As a result, families are benefiting from opportunities for their children through impactful programs such as Ohio ACE, the $125 million ESA program, Kansas KEEP, the $50 million education program, and Oklahoma PCTC, the record-setting tax credit program. These initiatives are made possible through the transformative power of Snowflake’s integration with Merit — putting data to work to change lives.

The post How Snowflake and Merit Helped Provide Over 120,000 Students with Access to Education Funding  appeared first on Snowflake.

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