Civic News
Entrepreneurs / FastFWD / Municipal government /

This FastFWD company creates videos to prep inmates for re-entry

"[Prisons] spend a lot of money on content that might have a place but kind of misses the mark," said Media In Neighborhoods Group cofounder Jon Kaufman. "It's Ph.D. folks trying to talk to people in prison. We're bringing information straight from the horse's mouth."

Prisons aren’t doing a good job of preparing offenders for re-entering society.

The team behind Media In Neighborhoods Group (MING) wants to change that, with a series of videos that aims to explain “what lays in wait for [offenders] upon their release,” said cofounder El Sawyer.

It’s a matter that’s close to Sawyer’s heart. He spent eight years in prison for shooting someone who was trying to rob him. It’s been 11 years since he got out. Since then, Sawyer, 36, of Fairhill, in North Philadelphia, has co-directed a documentary called Pull of Gravity that follows three Philadelphians after being released from jail.

The revenue model, as MING cofounder (and Pull of Gravity co-director) Jon Kaufman puts it, is “build one, sell many.”

el sawyer jon kaufman

Cofounders El Sawyer (left) and Jon Kaufman. (Photo courtesy of MING)

“There’s already a huge amount of spending going on in jails,” he said. “They spend a lot of money on content that might have a place but kind of misses the mark. It’s Ph.D. folks trying to talk to people in prison. We’re bringing information straight from the horse’s mouth.”

Sawyer and Kaufman, 28, of Germantown, completed the city’s FastFWD accelerator last spring. The 12-week program was an eye-opening experience, they said, where they learned “the language to speak about our initiatives” and how to be oriented toward scaling their product.

They’re still developing their prototype but have already started having meetings with those who run federal re-entry programs as well as Pennsylvania Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel.

Before you go...

Please consider supporting to keep our independent journalism strong. Unlike most business-focused media outlets, we don’t have a paywall. Instead, we count on your personal and organizational support.

3 ways to support our work:
  • Contribute to the Journalism Fund. Charitable giving ensures our information remains free and accessible for residents to discover workforce programs and entrepreneurship pathways. This includes philanthropic grants and individual tax-deductible donations from readers like you.
  • Use our Preferred Partners. Our directory of vetted providers offers high-quality recommendations for services our readers need, and each referral supports our journalism.
  • Use our services. If you need entrepreneurs and tech leaders to buy your services, are seeking technologists to hire or want more professionals to know about your ecosystem, has the biggest and most engaged audience in the mid-Atlantic. We help companies tell their stories and answer big questions to meet and serve our community.
The journalism fund Preferred partners Our services

Join our growing Slack community

Join 5,000 tech professionals and entrepreneurs in our community Slack today!


The Trump rally shooter perched on a building owned by American Glass Research. Here’s everything we know about it.

Here’s how the global tech outage impacted many of the vital systems across the mid-Atlantic region

Inside Philly City Hall’s new $6.85M lighting system, with hundreds of LEDs that dance with color

Inside Philly's plan to provide free Verizon internet at 183 rec centers

Technically Media