Time is money, and at MWB, we strive to put our time where our mouth is. We do our share of pro-bono and deep discounted work for charities and non-profits, but we also take our #Create4Good philosophy a step further. MWB has developed and maintains several initiatives – we call simply “Special Projects” – with focus on helping to improve the economic, social, and cultural standing of Mississippi. Below are a summary of these “special projects” that we hope will make a big impact for the people of our state.
Headed by MWB Partner Tim Mask, The Fast Forward Mississippi initiative is the branded outreach effort stemming from the Mississippi Brain Drain Commission. The mission of the initiative is to stem the loss of Mississippi’s intellectuals to other states and help create an environment conducive to a thriving 21st century knowledge economy. It is through these objectives that we hope to elevate our standard of living, economic improvement, and quality of life. Mississippi is one of the most creative states in the country, brimming with talent in all areas of industry and interest. Through a complementary approach of education and outreach, Fast Forward Mississippi will provide details on the opportunities that exist in the state and promote the realization that you truly can “go farther, faster” in Mississippi. Signature of projects of Fast Forward Mississippi include Kids Code Mississippi and the InSpire Talks series.
Most kids play computer games, use mobile apps and other kinds of software, and visit websites regularly. But the funny thing is, while most know a lot about using software, very few know how to use code to make their own games and apps. That’s especially true in Mississippi, where very few kids have any opportunity to learn about coding at school or at home. Headed by MWB Partner Randy Lynn, Kids Code Mississippi is a special project of the Fast Forward Mississippi initiative focused on encouraging kids throughout Mississippi to learn how to be creators of technology, not just users of it. Coding is fun, creative and an extremely useful skill to have these days. Kids Code Mississippi projects have included staging or co-organizing student-based hackathons, including TECHJXN, conducting teacher/student education workshops, and implementing extra-curricular enrichment activities focused on coding education. Since 2013, Kids Code has also sponsored coding tutorials and contests as part of Mississippi Innovation Month.
MWB is one of the founders, title sponsors, and co-organizers of TEDxJackson. Until 2014, every state in the United States had hosted at least one TEDx event… every state that is, except Mississippi. As part of Mississippi Innovation Month, MWB helped to produce TEDxJackson in 2014 (even securing Kermit the Frog to give the first full-length TEDx talk by a Muppet!). We continued with support in 2015 to implement another wildly successful TEDxJackson event, and look forward to an even better one in 2016. We love the idea of using Mississippi as a backdrop so the world can hear our ideas worth spreading!
Founded by MWB Partner Marc Leffler, Spark-o-Matic is a concept that will launch in February, 2016. The initiative will create a community-oriented, media-based after-school mentoring program that brings together educators, ad folks, artists, designers, musicians, video/filmmakers, tech-savvy volunteers, and other willing mentors who will guide young people in using digital tools to propel themselves forward in school, college and career. At it’s core, its about learning how to use these tools for creating, understanding, self expression, and maybe even social change. The program will help guide kids in digital literacy and good digital citizenship while giving them tech access that bridges the digital divide. It would also be a resource for educators who are clamoring for training in digital literacy, implementing technology into their curriculum, and guiding students in digital citizenship, the responsible use of digital tools. The program will launch as a partnership among MWB, JXN-metro area local library affiliates, the Intelligent Communities Institution (a program of the Mississippi State Extension Service), and the Jackson Public School System.
Stay tuned for more MWB special projects that truly embody the spirit of #Create4Good.