Applying for Sponsorship

Thank you for your interest in charter school sponsorship (i.e., authorizing) with the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation. We currently sponsor thirteen schools in four Ohio cities, schools that collectively serve more than 5,500 students. This page is intended to be the first stop for all potential applicants: providing 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. If you have any questions please contact us at this email address.

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 currently only sponsoring schools in our established schools regions which include Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton and Portsmouth.

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

FOR ALL APPLICANTS: To begin the process, please review this Request for Proposal (RFP) document. If your proposed school fits our criteria fully, please then complete and submit the form below. Our sponsorship team will contact you promptly following your submission. No application materials will be accepted in any form prior to completion of the form.

Requirements for the submission of a high-quality school application

New School Applicants

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

  1. The developer’s completed RFP materials.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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, which can be accessed by applicants following submission of the RFP, above.


All information submitted by new school applicants 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.

The timeline for application submission, review, recommendation, and contract is explained in detail below.

Example application documents (for reference only):

New School Application

TBFF Cleveland Addendum

Evaluation Rubric

Application timeline--Fall 2025 opening

Detailed application cycle and timelines for opening in the fall of 2025 can be found in the links to each application on this page.

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 below.

These schools will be evaluated initially based on the rubric that follows under “example application documents.” The rubric represents the primary indicators of Fordham’s academic and organizational accountability plan and should be used for information only. Do not fill out or submit any of the documents below. Applications can only be submitted following completion of the online form at the top of this page.

Example application documents (for information/reference only): Existing School Application TemplateReplicator School Application, Evaluation Rubric.


Renewal Applicants

To renew a current sponsorship agreement with the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, the online application will be open on  August 1 of each year. Renewal notification letters will be sent in July of the following year.

Example application documents (for information/reference only): Renewal Application Template, Renewal Evaluation Rubric.