At 24 years of age, Tom founded IDEA Public School and was Texas’ youngest-ever charter school founder. Since 2000, Tom has led the replication efforts of the original school. System-wide there are now more than 45,000 students enrolled in the 79 schools that comprise IDEA Public Schools. The mission of IDEA Public Schools is to prepare students from under-served communities for success in college and citizenship.
Tom has been widely recognized in a variety of publications, including being featured in 2009 by Time magazine as Wendy Kopp’s pick for the 100 most influential global citizens. Tom is the recipient of the prestigious Peter Jennings Award for Civic Leadership (2009), University of Michigan Ross Business School’s Social Entrepreneur of the Year (2010), the Freddy Fender Humanitarian Award (2008), and served as Chairman of the 2007 National Charter Schools Conference. In 2018, Tom was inducted into the National Charter School Hall of Fame. Tom is often called upon to provide expert testimony to state and local officials on issues of education policy and school choice.