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2015-16 Direct Certification Improvement Grant Summaries

Grant Type
Award Date
Alaska Tier 1 September 2015 $128,802
New Jersey Tier 1 April 2016 $104,454
Washington, DC Tier 1 September 2016 $146,496
California Tier 1 September 2016 $ 143,688
Oregon Tier 2 September 2015 $818,382
Pennsylvania Tier 2 April 2016 $968,369
Maryland Tier 2 September 2016 $769,208
Nebraska Tier 2 September 2016 $873,084.50


Department of Education and Early Child Development

The Alaska Department of Education and Early Child Development has applied for a Tier 1 Planning and Implementation Grant to assess options in unmatched data, automate manual match processes, and streamline workflow for matching. Additionally with use of the state-wide matching system will increase categorically eligible students transmitted to school food authorities. For more information, please contact Jo Dawson, Child Nutrition Manager at (907) 465-8708.

New Jersey

The New Jersey Department of Agriculture, Division of Food and Nutrition, applied for a Tier 1 Direct Certification Planning and Implementation Grant to enhance their current direct certification (DC) system. The new enhancements will allow for nightly data runs to capture DC matches in larger districts. The impact would include a solution for duplicates and new navigational aids. To accomplish this, New Jersey will collaborate with software vendors currently contracting with Local Education Agencies (LEAs) to gather feedback to improve SNAP-TANF matching through increased frequency of data transfers and analyzing the feasibility of gaining additional household members by incorporating the master case number ID. The grant will access the feasibility of obtaining Student IDs directly from LEAs and migrating to a site based DC process. Self-help tools will be created to provide assistance to LEAs with difficulty in accurately executing components of the DC and Verification process; and the timely completion of the FNS-742 Report to sustain improvements and disseminate best practices to state LEAs. For more information, please contact Rose Tricario, Division Director at (609) 984-0672.

Department of Education

The Oregon Department of Education, Child Nutrition Programs is applying for a Tier 2 Direct Certification Improvement Grant to enhance the state's direct certification system performance. The state is proposing to make enhancements to the system, which is used by Local Educational Agencies (LEA) for direct certification and direct verification activities. Proposed system enhancements include the following: 1) Algorithm modifications which will incorporate additional and enhanced matching on multiple data fields. 2) Upload functionality that allows LEA users to generate direct certification matches based on their current membership. 3) The addition of foster children in the state-wide direct certification system. 4) Improve LEA usage of the direct certification system by incorporating system usage reports for the state agency. The state also plans to provide training and support on system enhancements for stakeholders including LEA staff and state agency staff. For more information, please contact Heidi Dupuis, RD, Manager, School Nutrition Programs at (503) 947-5893.


The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), Division of Food and Nutrition is applying for a Tier 2 Direct Certification Improvement Grant to strengthen its direct certification (DC) rate. Pennsylvania's approximately 900 school nutrition program sponsors possess various skill levels, various levels of IT support and are challenged with high food staff turnovers as well as competing work demands, resulting in less than ideal ability to perform DC efficiently. PDE identified DC areas needing improvement which helped to identify the need to transfer to a new system. PDE is transitioning from the legacy system for completing DC to a new system with stronger algorithm improved matching rates and more simplicity by phasing out the legacy system and migrating to a PDE Student Eligibility System (SES). PDE has five project goals: 1) Improve match results through match methodology and match algorithm change; 2) Improve the utilization and understanding of PA-SES system.; 3) Improve identification of DC students from the unmatched results; 4) Establish outreach and communication system outside state food agency community that focuses on direct certification issues and ways to improve rates and meet benchmarks; and 5) Monitor reporting and ensure accuracy of reported data. To achieve these goals, the Tier 2 project will increase SNP sponsor knowledge and builds system capacity by expanding trainings, continuing Technical Assistance support to SNP sponsors state-wide, and enhancing software compatibility of the DC systems. For more information, please contact Vonda Cooke (Fekete), Division Chief, at (800) 331-0129.

Department of Education

The California Department of Education (CDE) has applied for a Tier I Direct Certification (DC) Implementation Grant to focus on achieving a more effective system to directly certify students state-wide and to increase local educational agencies' (LEA) DC rates. The CDE's current DC rate is well below the required 95 percent benchmark established in law. The current state level DC match is performed by other state agencies and the process is entirely blind to protect data. Due to these constraints, the CDE and partner agencies are unable to perform the DC improvements recommended by USDA.

The CDE is working to implement the USDA's recommendation that CDE obtain Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program data from partner agencies to perform statewide matches. The CDE proposes to hire a technical consultant who has expertise in technology systems and school meal programs to work with CDE staff to prepare an implementation plan to increase DC rates statewide. In addition, CDE will perform targeted intervention with LEAs to increase DC rates at local levels. The proposed grant objectives include: 1) Understanding the automated DC methods used by other high-performing states; 2) Examining available systems and software for use with a state-wide match; 3) Preparing an implementation plan for a new statewide match; 4) Testing implementation recommendations on SNAP data extracts and evaluating match results; 5) Developing training and resources, and disseminating information to LEAs on DC and DC with Medicaid best practices; and 6) Providing regional trainings and intensive, targeted technical assistance to LEAs. We believe these activities will yield better DC rates from LEAs and ready implementation of DC matching systems, software, algorithms, and processes for CDE to perform a more productive statewide matches. For more information please contact Katie Tully at (916) 445-4309.

Department of Education

The Maryland State Department of Education, Office of School and Community Nutrition Programs propose to improve the direct certification (DC) matching process in Maryland through the award of a Tier 2 DC improvement grant. The current decentralized DC matching processes will be discontinued at the local level and hosted by the state agency. A DC portal will be developed allowing LEA enrollment file uploads and real-time look-up features for DC matching. Employing complex algorithms and probabilistic matching will increase the match success rate and exceed the HHFKA-mandated SNAP match of 95%. Statistical reports will be generated from LEA matching activity supporting accurate state agency oversight of LEA match success rates, matching frequency, and technical assistance for external users.

Standardizing the matching processes and moving the process to the state agency will eliminate the need for LEA manual matching and increase the frequency of matching for small LEAs with inadequate IT support. Match algorithms designed to ferret out some of the naming conventions used by populations from other countries will improve the results for all LEAs. Gender, race and unique identifier fields will be added to the student enrollment record. LEA enrollment files will be matched against the entire Maryland State Department of Human Resources (DHR) file. The DHR has agreed to work with MSDE to streamline the delivery method and increase the frequency of the SNAP/TANF/FOSTER files. The Maryland SNAP match success rate will not consistently reach the 95% rate without employing new strategies in the DC process. For more information please contact Robin Ziegler, Director at (410) 767-0198.

Washington, DC
Office of the State Superintendent of Education

The Washington, DC, Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) has applied for a direct certification (DC) Tier 1 funding grant to allow OSSE to build a centralized student database for private/non-public schools through its Quick Base application platform, which would act as a modified enrollment system. OSSE would develop a template in Excel that would contain all necessary fields for direct certification matching then have those LEAs complete and upload it into Quick Base. Once uploaded, it can be modified as needed by the LEA to add or remove students or change information in their matching fields, such as address. As updates are provided by reporting agencies, OSSE can provide direct certification matches as it would for public and public charter schools.

The number for private/non-public schools is no less than five and no more than 10 but changes year to year. This application would decrease the administrative burden by housing student level data in a centralized location as well as remove the requirement to submit rosters throughout the year. Using this new application, it would also decreases the risk of a data breach by housing sensitive student information in a secure location; there would be no more need to send rosters via email or upload them to OSSE's network. For more information please contact Lindsey Palmer at (202) 724-7861.

Department of Education

The Nebraska Department of Education (NDE), Nutrition Services programs is applying for a Tier 2 direct certification (DC) improvement grant to upgrade the technology, integrate with an improved state student information system, enhance the matching algorithm, incorporate other DC populations, and provide training to school food authorities (SFA) staff. The project includes (a) redesigning the Single Student Interactive, DC Match and Possible Match, and Direct Verification screens, and the upload files for student rosters; (b) incorporating the migrant, homeless, and Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations data in the DC system (A unique value denotes each category for the SFA staff to identify a student in a particular program); (c) redesigning the algorithm to prioritize the possible match records for SFA staff to easily identify and adjudicate student records from the direct certification list; (d) rewriting the Extract, Transformation, and Load technology to acquire the SFAs' student rosters for the DC matching process from an almost real-time Nebraska information system; (e) developing an NDE reporting interface which allows specialists to review and audit data for direct certification, FNS 742, FNS 834, and accountability reports; (f) establishing a DC workgroup to guide the project, develop the requirements, and evaluate/test the DC functionality and screen designs; and (g) training the SFA staff on web browsers, direct certification screens, and spreadsheets to work with the DC matches and possible matches list. For more information please contact Sharon Davis, Director at (402) 471-3559.

Page updated: April 06, 2023