Why Compass?

Founded in 2002, Compass Project has been serving Maine’s youth for almost two decades. Each of our students is charting their 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 and our students will inspire you to get involved.

In 2015, the Compass Project was adopted by Engine, a non-profit community and arts organization in downtown Biddeford.  Located at 128 Main Street in Biddeford, Engine is also home to the Maine FabLab, a digital rapid prototyping facility offering design and 3D printing capabilities for the community.  Adopting the Compass Project added a full-capacity woodworking and boatbuilding shop to Engine’s capabilities.

Since July of 2015, the Compass Project boat shop has operated out of Biddeford High School.  We are grateful for the generous support of the Biddeford School System as it allows us to offer on-site school-based boatbuilding programs, community workshops for youth and adults, computer-aided design/build courses, and recreational on-water opportunities in the region.


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!


“I had a wonderful semester boat and bookcase building.

Mira with her bookcase

Mira with her Bookcase in the Compass Woodshop

It never felt like “class” to me, as I enjoyed it so much while learning skills I wouldn’t have otherwise.  I definitely plan to stay in touch and look forward to potentially doing an internship with the Compass Project.”

Mira D’Amato

Boatbuilding Student – Spring 2018
University of New England, Class of 2019



“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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