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2018 Direct Certification Improvement Grant Summaries

Grant Type
Award Date
AlabamaTier 2April 2018$954,686
GeorgiaTier 1April 2018$86,160
South CarolinaTier 2April 2018$970,580


Department of Education

The Alabama State Department of Education has applied for a Tier 2 Direct Certification (DC) Implementation Grant to increase the accuracy and validity of direct certification of children eligible for free school meals when they are members of households that receive SNAP benefits. By working with the Alabama Department of Human Resources to modify and adapt the current process for direct certification, a greater percentage of children will be identified and fewer children will be mistakenly included or omitted, depending upon their status. through the development and implementation of a data matching software system, children will be matched on a minimum of five out of seven identifiers between school enrollment records and public assistance program eligibility records provided daily by the Alabama Department of Human Resources.

Additionally, there will be a system to conduct a deeper match on children who are not initially matched. The proposed project will provide a greater ability to directly certify children since it will utilize fuzzy logic to identify potential matches based on transpositions, alternate last names, and phonetics. It will support special characters, identify joining words, delete empty spaces, delete noise words, and delete personal titles. The result will be a more accurate and valid count of children being automatically approved for school meal benefits without application from the child’s household, increasing Alabama’s direct certification rate from 89% to the required 95% or greater. For more information, please contact Dr. Susan McKim at (334) 353-9251.

Department of Education

The Georgia Department of Education, School Nutrition Division, has applied for a Direct Certification (DC) Tier 1 Grant to purchase a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) DC matching software product that has already been proven successful and will increase the direct certification (DC) percentage benchmark for Georgia. This software will utilize an effective system monitoring module, refine match engines through improved algorithms and target specific barriers in the DC process of unmatched student identification.

The enhanced software will allow for increased data runs to capture DC matches in a timelier manner. This grant will allow for a replacement to the original direct certification matching software system implemented in Georgia. The grant will access the practicability of obtaining student IDs directly from the LEA point of sale locations thus transferring the operation to a site-based DC process. In addition, this software will develop a DC monitoring mechanism for the non-traditional LEAs.

The capability to allow LEA mapping such that non-traditional and city school systems can be mapped or connected to students in their school population is advantageous. An online help guide, in-depth webinars and webinar recordings will be developed to provide assistance to LEAs with difficulty in accurately accomplishing matches. Regional conventional trainings and intensive, focused technical assistance will be provided to LEAs. The software will merge family members in order to simplify the identity of eligible families. In closing, the opportunity to utilize this grant funding for the purposes outlined in this abstract will enable Georgia to consistently reach the 95% benchmark through the use of new strategies in the DC matching methodology. For more information, please contact Jeanne Starr at (404) 656-2458.

South Carolina
Department of Education

The South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE), Office of Health and Nutrition (OHN) has applied for a Tier 2 Direct Certification Improvement Grant to improve the statewide Direct Certification (DC) system. The SCDE will implement secure, web-based software to improve its DC system in order to meet or exceed the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act mandated 95 percent match rate benchmark. Currently the state matches at an 87 percent rate using a DC process that includes three other state agencies and multiple offices within the SCDE.

The new DC system will use a series of complex algorithms and probabilistic matching (a 16-level match process that includes nickname and phonetic matching) that will benefit the state agencies, LEAs, and school foodservice authorities (SFAs), including those for charter, private, and parochial schools. The SCDE will have the ability to run statistical reports from SFA DC activity and will have full access to match success rates and matching frequency at the LEA and school level, which will improve accuracy in reports to the USDA.

The system will allow SFAs to upload enrollment files, match enrollment data against statewide Department of Social Services data on a more frequent basis, and use a student lookup feature as needed. The new DC system will increase frequency in matches and eliminate the need for manual matching for small LEAs. The South Carolina match rate will not improve over current levels without a complete overhaul of the current DC matching system. For more information, please contact Ron Jones at (803) 734-8205.

Page updated: June 20, 2024