Why Compass?

Founded in 2002, Compass Project has been serving the youth of Maine for almost two decades. Each of our kids is charting his/her own course through obstacles in school and life. Using wood working and boat building, we help young men and women develop academic and workplace skills, as well as self-confidence and pride. We hope our story will inspire you to get involved. Indeed, we believe Compass Project kids are truly inspirational!

In 2015, Engine, a non-profit arts organization in downtown Biddeford adopted the Compass Project. Engine hosts a makerspace and fabrication lab program, Maine FabLab, in its 128 Main Street location and, now with the Compass Project, features a full-capacity woodworking shop as well as design, and 3D printing capabilities.

Since July, 2015 the Compass Project boat shop operates out of Biddeford High School and continues to offer school-based boatbuilding programs, workshops for youth and adults, computer-aided Design/Build courses, and recreational on-water opportunities.


The Compass Project mission is to use boat building and rowing to provide positive direction to youth by encouraging the development of personal responsibility and community and environmental engagement. Our experiential learning programs integrate academic, job and life skills training with boat building and rowing to help youth stay in school and find new career directions. Compass would not be Compass without a wide range of adult volunteers and mentors please consider joining our team today!


You actually get to start from scratch and build a whole boat, which is really cool. You have to precise on everything. After you’re done building it, you’re proud of what it looks like. And you feel pretty close to the adults at Compass Project after working with them all the time.

             – Aaron Truman, Student, South Portland High School

Although I don’t consider myself a “boat person” I do love to teach kids how to work with tools. Compass has provided an unmatched opportunity to do that. I’ve seen a middle schooler who could fairly be called a “frequent disruptor” become totally absorbed making the perfect stem cut with a pullsaw. And another cutting close “to the line” on the bandsaw, finishing right on with the block plane, proud as anything. And I’ve had the experience, years afterward, of encountering one of the students on the street: “Remember me? You taught me how to plane an oar!” I did. And I do.

– Allen Armstrong, Volunteer


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