The New Canaan Outback Teen Center Board of Directors is hoping to raise $50,000 or more from the 2013-14 communitywide appeal, which supports operations and staff development as well as student enrichment, leadership and community service programs.

The Outback relies on non-governmental sources to fund more than 90 percent of its $250,000 annual budget. Individual contributions are an essential part of the funding.

"Our strong programs and rentals at the center bring over 1,000 visits a month," Sangeeta Appel, board president, said. "In the past year, we have actively expanded our programs, to include cooking and baking classes, cafe management, cupcake decorating, art workshops, open mic nights, yoga and kickboxing as well as our classic after-school activities, and leadership and community service opportunities. The Outback is uniquely focused on fulfilling the vital need in our town for a safe facility where young people will gravitate, express their interests and creativity and feel valued by their community. During non-student hours, we have opened the facility to serve adults and not-for-profit groups. The Outback has grown into a place for youth and the community.

"We are most excited about the arrival of our two new directors, Christine Simmons and Andrew Barer, and look for further expansion in 2014.

Andrew brings his expertise to broaden and deepen the youth leadership component of our programming and is already investigating significant new community service opportunities for our students. Christine currently is responding to adult interest in partnering for enrichment and wellness programs. She welcomes any ideas for how the Outback can serve the community of New Canaan."

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