Mississippi Public Universities

Overview
Mississippi Public Universities are solving Mississippi's most pressing problems and advancing the state together. Through research, teaching and service, universities help tackle health issues, improve education and assist those who are economically disadvantaged, unemployed or underemployed.

There is much work to be done. Knowing that our students possess the creativity and ingenuity necessary to find unique solutions to these problems, Mississippi Public Universities have developed the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Social Business Challenge.

We are inviting teams of students to put their heads together and come up with a creative solution and develop a business plan to address one of Mississippi's most pressing problems. Open to any public university students, the challenge requires students to work in teams of 3-6 with at least one faculty adviser.

We are asking students to focus their efforts to tackle the problem of obesity and related health issues. By improving the health of Mississippians, we can make progress toward the first two Blueprint goals. In 2012, Blueprint Mississippi, an independent cooperative of organizations and leaders aimed at conducting an objective review of Mississippi's economic opportunities and recommended actions for putting Mississippi in the place of greatest opportunity, identified nine goals to enable a more prosperous, vibrant, and resilient Mississippi, built upon a foundation of economic opportunity for all its citizens.

The nine Blueprint Mississippi goals include:

  1. Increase the Educational Achievement of Mississippians
  2. Cultivate a More Robust Workforce in Mississippi
  3. Strengthen and Expand Mississippi's Economy
  4. Promote Health Care as an Economic Driver
  5. Support Mississippi's Creative Economy
  6. Continually Develop the Infrastructure for a Competitive Economy
  7. Increase Availability of Financial Capital
  8. Cultivate Diversity, Community Cooperation and Racial Reconciliation
  9. Improve Communication and Coordination Among Public, Private and Non-profit Leaders

The goals of the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Social Business Challenge are to encourage students to develop ideas for solving Mississippi's most pressing problems, while learning important lessons about planning, teamwork and presenting ideas. The challenge will also serve as an opportunity to showcase the talent and skill level of our students.

Examples of Social Businesses
Many rural communities have become "food deserts" because of the lack of nutritious fruits and vegetables available at the local grocery and convenience stores. One possible business solution to this problem is to have mobile farmers' markets that bring fresh fruits and vegetables to the rural communities on a regular, consistent basis, giving the residents healthier food options and helping them lead healthier lives.

It is well documented that routine health screenings can help with prevention and early detection of disease. However, many Mississippians, particularly those who are economically disadvantaged or living in rural areas, do not have annual check-ups with a family physician or participate in other health screening opportunities. One possible business solution to this problem is to set up screenings at churches after Sunday services so that church members and area residents have the health screenings and an opportunity to discuss the results and other health issues with medical professionals.