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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.

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