For systemic change, you need a long-term vision. That’s exactly the approach we take with our Title IX athletics work. In 2010 we filed administrative complaints against 12 school districts across the country for failing to give high school girls equal opportunities to play sports. We know that without these opportunities, girls would miss out on the many benefits of playing sports: greater academic success, lower rates of drug use and teenage pregnancy, and higher self-esteem.

We knew that by taking on these specific districts due to their size, influence and location, we would have a better chance of making the big changes needed to give girls more opportunities to play.

And it worked! Five years later the results are clear: 11 out of the 12 complaints have been settled, which will result in thousands of new athletic opportunities for girls in districts across the country. In New York City alone, hundreds of girls’ teams are being added. This is a game changer not only for the girls in the districts that are increasing opportunities, but also for schools across the country receiving the message (thanks to hundreds of press articles covering the Center’s complaints) that girls’ sports matter.

And what’s happening with lucky complaint number 12? We are following up and pressing forward — as we have been for over 40 years — to make sure all girls get the athletic opportunities they deserve.