Communities for Equity (CFE) is a Michigan-based, multi-issue, volunteer-driven, advocacy organization that serves as a voice for female athletes. CFE works together with policy makers, schools, community organizations, and the public to improve current middle school and high school athletic programs. Most importantly, CFE strives to improve the quality of life for all athletes in the state of Michigan. As the organization's guiding mission, CFE supports equity in Michigan athletics through advocacy and by providing educational resources to female athletes, their parents, and schools in order to assist in the enforcement of and/or compliance with the laws and policies requiring athletic equity.

CFE intends to be a vital statewide resource and advocate for athletic equity. CFE also intends to serve as an ongoing clearinghouse of resources and information to communities, emphasizing outreach and education, awareness building, and advocacy for compliance with, or creation of public policies. CFE will work with schools and support parents and athletes in evaluating and changing school programs to increase athletic equity. In addition, CFE will offer advice on cases and trends concerning athletic equity, provide resource information on available legal counsel when asked, and seek legal remedies when all other options have been exhausted.

CFE's primary goals include educating the public about Title IX compliance; raising visibility of the issue of athletic equity in Michigan; forming statewide and national alliances; increasing involvement of area women business leaders; engaging the support and active participation of well-known female athletes; advocating for persons facing discrimination; and lobbying for policy changes to correct existing inequities.

Overall, CFE believes that every girl in the state of Michigan is entitled to equitable opportunity and treatment in school-sponsored athletics. Together with parents, coaches, athletic directors, athletes, superintendents, and other policy makers, CFE will continue to work toward narrowing the gender gap. As a result of CFE's efforts, both female and male athletes will enjoy the benefits of athletic equity. As a result of athletic equity, female athletes, in particular, will grow in self-esteem and confidence, achieve greater success in life, and be well-equipped to participate as community leaders of the future.

History of CFE and Community Accomplishments
Several years before CFE was formed, parents with daughters participating in competitive middle and high school athletics began to question the absence of support services (i.e. pep bands, programs, national anthem, cheerleaders, etc.) at their daughters' sporting events. After researching information about Title IX, and developing an understanding of the injustices and inequities placed upon female athletes, it became evident that it was necessary for these issues to be discussed and addressed. This led the group of parents, who at first met only informally, to form an official organization. CFE became a federal nonprofit organization in April 1997, and currently consists of parents, coaches, and students working together to address gender equity issues within school districts under the direction of committed Board members.

Since 1994, CFE and its members have greatly impacted how high school athletics are perceived in the state of Michigan. Several positive changes have resulted because of CFE's persistence in achieving its mission. Here are just a few examples of CFE's ongoing activities and accomplishments:

  • Partnering with local organizations, colleges, and universities to bring Mary Mazzio, the producer of "A Hero for Daisy," to West Michigan;
  • Participating in a statewide Gender Equity Blue Ribbon Panel to study inequities in high school athletics;
  • Recruiting partners at the local, state and national level, such as the Michigan Women's Foundation's Young Women for Change, Nokomis Foundation, American Association of University Women, Partners in Public Education, Michigan Education Association, National Women's Sport's Foundation, and National Women's Law Center;
  • Establishing Gender Equity committees in school districts throughout West Michigan;
  • Initiating Gender Equity evaluations at local high schools;
  • Presenting topical information at community meetings throughout the state;
  • Hosting and sponsoring various conferences/forums (i.e., Kent Intermediate School District's Diversity Council);
  • Speaking at state and national conferences, programs, and luncheons (i.e. Grand Rapids Women's Bar Association, Michigan State Board of Education, American Association of University Women, Women's Assembly, Michigan Volleyball Coaches Association, Science is for Girls, Girls Matter, Kent Intermediate School District, Grand Rapids Community Gender Equity Conference, Partners in Public Education, Metropolitan Life Conference, Public Education Network in Washington, DC);
  • Partnering with Kentwood Public Schools and Partners in Public Education to have national speakers, David Sadker and Phyllis Lerner, conduct a workshop on "Failing at Fairness: How Our Schools Cheat Girls";
  • Conducting media awareness campaigns and interviews in state and national publications, and on television and radio spots;
  • Creating tool kits such as "A Parental Guide to Title IX & Gender Equity in High School Athletics";
  • Initiating legal action against the Michigan High School Athletic Association to seek redress for its discriminatory treatment of Michigan's high school female athletes. CFE v. MHSAA

To read the Court's full opinion, please go to www.miwd.uscourts.gov and look for CFE v. MHSAA under "high profile" cases."

return to top