Ohio Charter School Sponsorship

Thank you for your interest in charter school sponsorship (i.e., authorizing) with the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation. We currently sponsor twelve schools in four Ohio cities that collectively serve approximately 5,500 students. This page provides information for new school applicants, existing schools seeking to switch sponsors (i.e., assignment), and renewal applicants or high quality school replications or expansions of schools we currently sponsor.  Please feel free to contact our Dayton office at 937-227-3368 with any questions.

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

Focus on Quality School Applications

New School Applicants

To open in fall 2021, the online application for new schools is available following the rolling application timeline below.

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

1) The developer’s application, as submitted to the Fordham Foundation’s online application management system, Epicenter; and

2) Due diligence information relevant to the application.

The application template, including the application evaluation rubric, is included in the 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 on to a committee of the Fordham Foundation’s board. The committee discusses the merits of the recommendation, and makes its own recommendation to the Fordham Foundation’s board of directors. If the Fordham Foundation’s board of directors approve the committee’s recommendation, a contract for sponsorship is drafted and executed. Any schools who are considering opening within the Cleveland Metropolitan School District must also address specific additional criteria found in the application addendum.

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

Fall 2021 Rolling

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. By 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.

By 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. 
By September 2020

Developers whose applications are not recommended to move forward are notified in writing.

Developers whose applications are recommended to move forward are notified by phone or email.
By October 2020
Fordham senior staff notifies the Fordham board’s Ohio committee of applications that are recommended for a sponsorship contract.

June 1, 2020

October 1, 2020
Fordham board vote on new school contracts. Applicants are notified as to whether the Fordham board approved or did not approve the applicant for a sponsorship contract

June 2020

October 2020
Preliminary Agreement By November 1, 2020
Contracts are drafted and sent to school. Note: New school contracts must be submitted to ODE by 3/15/2021 for a new school fall open. Contract drafted by February 1, 2021 for governing authority feedback.

Sponsoring Priorities

We intend to focus primarily on sponsoring excellent new schools in communities lacking enough high quality school options. Our secondary focus will be sponsoring existing high performing schools seeking to change sponsors. Both new and existing schools will be vetted via our application process. We are particularly interested in adding and/or expanding successful schools in Dayton, Ohio.

Existing Schools and School Replicators

The online application for existing schools new to Fordham sponsorship and for high quality schools wishing to replicate is available following the rolling application timeline above. Existing schools seeking Fordham sponsorship will be evaluated initially based on the following rubric. The rubric represents the primary indicators of Fordham’s accountability plan. Schools should contact our Dayton office to begin the application process.

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




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

[2] A value-added score is a statistical estimate intended to convey how much a school has contributed to student learning. A higher value-added score conveys greater confidence that, on average, the school has contributed more than one standard year of academic growth; a lower value-added 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] Represents the percentage of records reviewed that were accurate and complete during the school year.

[6] The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) 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, 2019 through September 30, 2019. Renewal notification letters will be sent in July 2019.

Available resources: Renewal Application Template, Renewal Evaluation Rubric.