Our Work in Dayton

To national audiences, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute is known as an influential education-policy think tank with a two-decades-long commitment to reforming elementary and secondary schools, particularly through the combination of higher standards and greater parental choice.

In Dayton, Ohio, however, our roots go deeper. Here, local leaders may know that Thomas B. Fordham was a prominent industrialist in the 1930s and 40s—the onetime head of GM’s Frigidaire division and a successful supplier of essential wartime materiel. They may also know that the Fordham Foundation—created by Fordham’s widow, Thelma Fordham Pruett, in 1959—made grants to support good works in Dayton and vicinity for almost four decades, until her passing in 1996.

In 1997, the trustees of the Fordham Foundation re-launched the organization with a focus on school reform, both nationally and in Dayton. Over the past seventeen years, our work in the Gem City has centered on expanding education options for disadvantaged children. We played a central role in launching Parents Advancing Choice in Education (PACE), which spearheaded private-school choice for Dayton families and we have made many grants to education-related organizations. In 2005, we became a charter-school sponsor (aka “authorizer”). Our sponsorship operation, based in Dayton, today serves over 3,200 students in eleven schools statewide, including DECA Prep and Dayton Leadership Academies.

Our work in Dayton focuses on three areas: sponsoring charter schools, standards reviews for high poverty schools, and philanthropy.

Opening a Charter School in Dayton

We know from our own analyses of state reported student outcomes that there are too many underperforming schools serving high poverty students in Dayton. One of our priorities is to recruit high performing charter schools and networks to the city. Schools and/or networks interested in opening in Dayton under Fordham’s sponsorship can view our sponsorship application here, and should contact Kathryn Mullen Upton at 937-227-3368 to learn more.

Thomas B. Fordham Foundation Philanthropy


The Thomas B. Fordham Foundation has been involved in philanthropic work since 1959, through our support of educational institutions and education-related work. We believe our great nation needs, and deserves, great schools for all its children. We are committed to promoting educational excellence for every child in America through producing quality research, analysis, advocacy, and charter school authorizing in Ohio. We further hope to support education-based work and organizations in the Dayton area and beyond by providing grant opportunities.

This page provides information for interested grant applicants. If you are seeking funding from The Thomas B. Fordham Foundation please see the documents and information below that provide additional detail. Please feel free to contact our Dayton office at (937) 227-3368 with any questions you may have.  

The Thomas B. Fordham Foundation’s grant application must be completed via our online application management system, EpiCenter. We will not accept hardcopy and/or email applications. To obtain a login code for your application, please contact Marwa Berri at [email protected].

Guidelines and Eligibility

To be eligible for funding, your organization must meet the following criteria:

  1. The organization provides educational programs;
  2. The organization is recognized as a tax-exempt 501 (c)(3) non-profit;
  3. The organization is located in the Dayton-city area; and/or
  4. The organization is located in Ohio, United States.

Grant funding will be awarded to those non-profit organizations and/or programs that are involved in education-based work and promote educational excellence for children in the area. Organizations/programs that are eligible for grant funding will involve innovative, creative, high-quality programming, and those seeking to narrow the achievement gap. The grant award process will be completed in 2 cycles. Interested applicants will have 2 deadlines to submit applications. If you miss the first application deadline, you will have another opportunity to submit a grant application.

If you are interested in submitting a grant application, please email Marwa Berri at [email protected]. You will then be provided a login code for your application, to be completed via EpiCenter (online application management system). Further instructions will be made available upon login.


Example Grant Application

Grant Application Instructions

Cover Application for Grant

Full Proposal Narrative Grant

Budget and Finances Grant


Grant Making Schedule




Cycle 1 Application Open


Cycle 1 Application Closed

(Deadline 1 to Submit Grant application)


Cycle 1 Awards will be notified/made


Cycle 2 Application Open


Cycle 2 Application Closed

(Deadline 2 to Submit Grant application)


Cycle 2 Awards will be notified/made

*These are tentative dates. They are subject to change.

Contact Information

Marwa Berri

[email protected]

15 West Fourth Street

Suite 430

Dayton, Ohio 45402


Please see below for a list of recent grant recipients.



The Conscious Connect- Houses of Knowledge

Gem City Market

Sciotoville Community School

Learn to Earn Dayton



Learn to Earn Dayton

Dayton Early College Academy

Phoenix Community Learning Center

United Schools Network

Dayton Regional STEM School

Seton Education Partners

Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges


Dayton Leadership Academies

Dayton Early College Academy


Dayton Metro Library

Girls on the Run of Dayton

Learn to Earn Dayton

Omega Community Development Corporation

Teach For America

Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio



Air Camp

Dayton Public Schools

East End Community Services

Teach for America



Air Camp

Alliance Community Schools

Dayton Foundation - Dr. David Ponitz Completion Scholarship at Sinclair Community College

Montgomery County College Promise

Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges

University of Dayton - Ready Set Soar

Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio



Air Camp

Chaminade Julienne Catholic High School

Dayton Foundation - Learn to Earn Dayton

Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges

Seedling Foundation

Teach for America

University of Dayton - Learn to Earn Dayton



Business Alliance for Education

Chaminade Julienne Catholic High School

Dayton Public Schools

First Baptist Church of Dayton

Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges

Omega Community Development Corporation

Teach for America

University of Dayton

University of Dayton - Learn to Earn Dayton



Alliance Community Schools

Dayton Foundation

Air Camp

Learn to Earn Dayton

National U.S. Air Force Museum Foundation

Omega Community Development Corporation

Seedling Foundation