How It All Began


of young Americans reach their mid-twenties with the skills and credentials needed to succeed in the 21st Century economy.

So what’s missing, and what can be done to address this astounding problem?

Our team of experts—youth psychologists, award-winning educators, sociologists, and social entrepreneurs—got together to answer that question. The solution, Benjamin Franklin Experience (BFE).  There is a mountain of evidence that shows how to propel teens into inspirational futures. Our team combined these best practices into one amazing program.

To succeed in the 21st Century economy, teens need the following things that BFE provides:

Exploration of Many Careers

Gaining a bigger view of the world and what is possible.


Career guidance and direction from high-performing adults who have attained their own dreams.

Soft Skills

Instruction and practice in the social behaviors and life skills that colleges and employers are seeking—and an understanding of why these skills matter.

Community Support

Belonging in a group of engaged mentors, instructors, businesses, and fellow students who share passions, ambition, and thoughtfulness.


Interactions with people from varied socio-economic backgrounds, demographics, and intelligence types (academic, musical, interpersonal, physical, etc.)

Our Philosophy

Benjamin Franklin Experience is a program like no other. It is intense, creative, fast-paced, fun, and full of endless opportunities. Courage and curiosity are valued and embraced. We push students to dream of living a life full of happiness and passion, and show them that it is they who will generate the big ideas of the future.

Participating in BFE is transformative. Students are challenged and inspired. They establish lifelong mentors and friendships. Their lives take unexpected directions. They make great discoveries. They tap into and hone talents they were not aware they had. They develop important transferable skills such as communication, collaboration, tenacity, and critical thinking. They see themselves in a future they might not have dreamed possible before.

Strong donor support ensures that Benjamin Franklin Experience accepts the most qualified applicants. Students are admitted solely on merit without regard to ability to pay. Our classes are filled with students brimming with enthusiasm from every walk of life. Their affinity is their eagerness to learn.

Founder and Executive Director

When introduced to Benjamin Franklin Experience, most people respond with:“I wish this program existed when I was a teenager.” And that’s because most adults remember choosing a major—or even deciding about whether to go to college—based on who they aspired to be.

Jonathan Shanin excelled in many careers before founding Benjamin Franklin Experience—naval architecture, online marketing, and scaling the work of charities solving dire problems in the world. His passion for finding meaning in his own life—and his insistence on excellence—is reflected in every element of Benjamin Franklin Experience.

BFE relies on collaborations with major corporations and high-achieving individuals. It has an astounding number of logistical intricacies. The creation of peak experiences that resonate with teens requires a team of seasoned professionals running a well-oiled machine behind the scenes. Those connections, and the team’s level of execution are made possible by the experience brought from Jonathan’s varied careers and accomplishments.

He credits the overwhelming success of the program to one truism: it has to be fun and exciting for it to work.

Integrity Statement

Benjamin Franklin Experience sustains a culture of integrity by ensuring that every decision, action, and interaction is undertaken with the knowledge that trust is precious, and that it must be earned again and again.

Integrity means preserving the dignity of the people with whom we work, respecting values, cultures, and perspectives that may be different from our own, and requiring that the students, individuals and organizations with whom we work demonstrate the same reverence for fair, open, and honest communication and conduct.

The professionals and corporations that create career experiences for our students are high profile individuals, foundations, government agencies, charities, and/or major corporate brands. At Benjamin Franklin Experience, integrity also means being good stewards of their reputations. We take that responsibility very seriously, and that means we are passionate about conducting ourselves with honesty and grace.

The behavior that is expected of our students is detailed in our Student Handbook.

The behavior that is expected of our Staff, Visiting-Mentors, and Guest-Instructors is communicated in our Policy Manual. We also require that all participating adults undergo a State and Federal background check before interacting with our teens.

Our Parent Organization

AidJoy is the parent organization of Benjamin Franklin Experience. The management and operation of all Benjamin Franklin Experience functions are conducted by AidJoy. AidJoy is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Donations to AidJoy/Benjamin Franklin Experience are tax deductible to the full extent of the law.