Applying for Sponsorship

Thank you for your interest in charter school sponsorship (i.e., authorizing) with the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation. We currently sponsor eleven schools in four Ohio cities, schools that collectively serve about 5,500 students. This page provides information for new school applicants, existing schools seeking to switch sponsors (i.e., assignment), renewal applicants for schools we currently sponsor, and applications to replicate or expand those schools.

Sponsoring Priorities

We are focused on sponsoring excellent new schools in Ohio communities that presently lack enough high‐quality options for children who need them, particularly schools that can be expected to do an exemplary job of educating disadvantaged students. We will also consider existing high-performing schools that seek (for sound reasons) to change sponsors. Both new and existing schools will be vetted via our application process. Although we are a statewide authorizer, we are particularly interested in adding and/or expanding successful schools in the Dayton area.

We will not consider applications for virtual (online) schools or dropout-recovery schools.

Fordham's sponsorship application must be completed via our online system, Epicenter. Hard copy and/or email applications will not be accepted. To begin the process, please complete the form below.

Focus on Quality School Applications

New School Applicants

Our online application for new schools seeking to open in 2021 or later is available following the rolling application timeline below.

The Thomas B. Fordham Foundation considers the following factors when evaluating a developer’s application for a new charter school:

1) The developer’s application, as submitted via Epicenter, which includes detailed information that responds to all requested information regarding the applicant’s proposed education, financial, governance/operations, and facilities plans.

2) Due diligence information relevant to the application. This may include, but is not limited to, audits, court records, information available online, reference information, business filings, and research on affiliated individuals and organizations.

3) Schools proposing to open within the Cleveland Metropolitan School District must address additional criteria found in the application addendum.

The application template, including the application evaluation rubric, is included in our online application system.


The above information is reviewed by a team of individuals comprised of Fordham Foundation staff and external experts. Based on the team’s analysis, staff identifies applications to recommend for approval. Applicants not recommended for approval are notified of the decision. Staff then makes a recommendation to the Ohio committee of the Fordham Foundation’s board. The committee considers the recommendation along with supporting information, and it makes its own recommendation to the Foundation’s board of directors. If the board approves the committee’s recommendation, a preliminary agreement and contract for sponsorship are drafted and executed.

Available resources:

New School Application

TBFF Cleveland Addendum

Evaluation Rubric

Application Timeline-Fall 2021 Opening

Timeline for New School Applicants or schools new to Fordham Sponsorship

School Year FY 2022/Fall 2021 Opening for New Schools

Online application available in Epicenter application management system. Opens December 2019
Deadline to submit application. August 1, 2020

Fordham staff and external reviewers evaluate application. The process includes:

Content review. Applications that are incomplete or poorly drafted will not be considered.

Individual evaluator review. Applications are reviewed by a team of Fordham staff and external application evaluators.

Evaluation team debrief meeting. The evaluation team convenes to discuss the application’s strengths and weaknesses and decide whether to approve an applicant for an interview.

August 2020

Interviews conducted, lead summaries finalized.

Applicants are interviewed by the evaluation team. Interviews are in-person at Fordham’s Dayton office. Prior to the interview, applicants will receive an agenda of topics to be covered.

Following the interview, the team convenes to reach consensus on the application. The team leader subsequently drafts the team’s analysis and submits it to Fordham’s senior sponsorship staff. 

Note: At any point during the September-November period, Fordham may seek clarifications, modifications, or additional information from applicants.

September 2020

Fordham senior staff notifies the board's Ohio committee of applications that are recommended for a sponsorship contract. The committee will then consider making a recommendation to the full Fordham board and president.

September 30, 2020
Fordham board votes on new school contracts. Applicants are notified as to whether the Fordham board approved or did not approve the applicant for a sponsorship contract.

October 31, 2020

Preliminary agreement November 30, 2020
Contracts are drafted and sent to school. Note: New school contracts must be submitted to ODE by March 15, 2021, for a new school to open in fall 2021. Preliminary contract drafted by February 1, 2021, for governing authority feedback.

Existing Schools, School Replicators, and School Expansions

The application timeline for existing schools seeking Fordham sponsorship, high-quality schools wishing to replicate, and current Fordham-sponsored schools seeking to expand is set forth above.

These schools will be evaluated initially based on the rubric that follows under “available resources.” The rubric represents the primary indicators of Fordham’s academic and organizational accountability plan. Schools should contact our Dayton office at 937-227-3368 to begin the application process.

Available resources: Existing School Application TemplateReplicator School Application, Evaluation Rubric

Applying for sponsorship chart 1Applying for sponsorship chart 2Applying for sponsorship chart 3Applying for sponsorship chart 4Applying for sponsorship chart 5Applying for sponsorship chart 6


[1] The PI percentage is calculated as follows: School’s PI score divided by 120 (the highest possible PI score).

[2] A VA score is a statistical estimate intended to convey how much a school has contributed to student learning. A higher VA score conveys greater confidence that, on average, the school has contributed more than one standard year of academic growth; a lower VA score conveys greater confidence that the school has, on average, not contributed more than one standard year of academic growth.

[3] “Local market” includes other charter schools (excluding virtual and dropout-recovery charter schools, as designated by the ODE) in the county in which a school is located, as well as comparable district schools in the charter school’s serving district, as designated by the ODE.

[4] The enrollment variance depicts actual enrollment divided by enrollment projection in the charter school’s board-approved budget.

[5] This ratio depicts the relationship between a school’s annual assets and liabilities, covering the last three years, based on the most recently audited financial statements.

[6] Represents the percentage of records reviewed that were accurate and complete during the school year.

[7] The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) requires that state education agencies make annual determinations regarding the performance of special-education programs operated by local education agencies (LEAs) that receive federal IDEA Part-B funding. In Ohio, individual charter schools are considered LEAs.

Renewal Applicants

To renew a current sponsorship agreement with the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, the online application will be open August 1, 2020, through September 30, 2020. Renewal notification letters will be sent in July 2020.

Available resources: Renewal Application Template, Renewal Evaluation Rubric.