The Benji Project was founded in 2016 in response to the suicide of a cherished Port Townsend teenager.

We teach teenagers stress management and emotional resilience skills using an evidence-based curriculum of mindfulness and self-compassion called Making Friends with Yourself.

Our vision is a community where youth thrive because they have the skills to cope with life’s ups and downs.


Instructor Trainees


Our program targets youth ages 11 to 19 in Jefferson County, a demographic of about 2,500 people.

Our area is largely rural, remote, and economically disadvantaged which impacts teens’ well-being. A lack of age-appropriate mental health resources adds to the challenges that adolescents face. The Healthy Youth Survey showed in 2016 that 23 percent of our 10th graders had attempted suicide, double the state average.

We serve all teens regardless of means, and 85 percent of participants pay nothing or a reduced amount on a need-based sliding scale. Keeping programs affordable to participants requires extensive and ongoing fundraising.

Our programs include:

  • 8-week classes (once a week for about two hours)

  • Summer camps

  • Special workshops for parents, teachers, therapists, healthcare providers and others who work with you.


  • Programs began 2017

  • Nonprofit status gained in late 2017 via fiscal sponsorship

  • Partnership with School-Based Health Centers

  • Winner of 2018 grant from the Fund for Women and Girls

  • Awarded two teacher-training scholarships in 2018 so we will have local teachers available.


  • Increase participation of boys; seeking sponsors for boys programs

  • Increase program frequency

  • Add more trained instructors

  • Expand geographic reach