What is a Merit and how can it benefit me?
If you’re not familiar with Merit and what this Silicon Valley-based company does for skydiving, then read on because the Merit system can make our lives easier, more organized and more fun…
Some of the most respected brands in the industry (Flight-1, UPT, USPA, AXIS Flight School, NEXT LEVEL, riggers, and many others) are using Merit every day. If you haven’t downloaded the App, it may be time to do so.
The A-Ha Moment
It is said that the best companies solve problems, and like many companies, Merit was formed following an “a-ha” moment when four guys went on a scuba trip to Belize. When asked to submit their paperwork showing their dive ratings, the consequences of being unable to produce them came to mind: a whole lot of hassle and inconvenience. We do everything on our phones from transferring money, general banking, and even ordering coffee… why are we still relying on physical paperwork in a fully immersed digital world? And so the dream of Merit began…
What Merit Does
Today, Merit gives organizations a way to simplify and automate the process of issuing, updating, and revoking credentials. The platform also puts those credentials directly in the hands of individuals with digital, portable, and verifiable records of their skills and achievements.
The United States Parachute Association (USPA) saw the value in this and was an early adopter. In addition to sending physical membership cards through the mail, they are now sending out digital membership cards, licenses, and ratings directly to everyone’s phones through Merit.
USPA has been working to bring the sport into the modern era by embracing technology. We are thrilled to work with Merit to provide members a paperless and efficient way to access credentials. A benefit at no cost to members, USPA recognizes that digital credentials will streamline the processing of ratings & awards, offering an option to replace physical cards with their digital counterparts.”Shanon Searls, USPA Director of Sport Promotion
Merit is also integrated with various manifest software programs, like Burble, which allows jumpers to share this information with manifest. This ended the days of manifest requesting jumpers to show paperwork when a license or rating was expired and accelerated the check-in experience — especially during boogies.
Since the adoption of Merit, dropzones and skydiving organizations have seen the value of issuing merits to their clientele. Many DZs are now sending out merits to AFF students to verify their stages through the program and even to tandem students verifying that they’ve jumped. United Parachute Technologies (UPT) issues their instructor ratings within Merit, as does Flight-1 for their students going through their multi-tiered canopy training program and the NEXT LEVEL wingsuit training program. Riggers are even issuing reserve repack dates to their clientele.
Simply put, Merit serves as a skydiver’s digital wallet of their credentials – a single, up-to-date repository for every achievement. It won’t be long before skydivers begin receiving merits for national and international world records to verify achievement.
The Next Level organization has worked with Merit since 2017. In that period of time we have seen the system become an invaluable tool for all skydivers and we are very happy to incorporate our course credentials in their system.”Matt Gerdes
Flight-1 canopy coach Maxine Tate has run events that combine canopy coaching, competition and Merits. She explains it’s about fostering learning…
I believe the Merit system has two very distinct benefits. Firstly it clearly and accurately tracks a skydiver’s activity in a manner which has been verified by a third party; it’s quick to reference and gives me a very clear picture of who I am working with. Secondly I believe wholeheartedly in recognizing the achievements of others, so as a coach I value the opportunity to award merits to those who deserve it for whatever reason, whether it is performance-based, contribution-based or other. If you are prepared to do the work to earn your merit, then I want to validate your efforts publicly. I think we as coaches should strive to find ways to foster continued learning and encourage our students to keep settings goals to help them move forward. The Merit system is a valuable tool for that.”Maxine Tate, Flight-1 Coach
Merit’s latest initiative – Merit Opportunities – began rolling out in Summer 2020. Now organizations can offer opportunities like events, trainings, and discounts to people who have earned certain credentials.
For example, if you have earned a merit from NEXT LEVEL, you may be presented with a Merit Opportunity from Squirrel offering a discount on a wingsuit – a discount not offered anywhere else outside of the Merit ecosystem. It’s ideal for companies to engage with their intended customer, and it’s ideal for skydivers to be presented with opportunities they can’t find anywhere else.
Today, a multitude of brands such as ChutingStar, ParaGear, Squirrel, and others offer Merit Opportunities for skydivers who unlock achievements by earning a merit.
If you’re a skydiver and you haven’t downloaded the Merit app yet, make sure you do so that you’re able to capture your opportunities using your Merits.
If you’re an organization that wants to issue official merits, click here to get started.