Who we are
The Outback, New Canaan’s Youth Center, a two-level facility located in the heart of downtown New Canaan behind Town Hall, is a privately funded not-for-profit organization.
The Outback is a supervised, drug and alcohol free center where high school and middle school students are welcome to explore and share their interests in a safe and fun environment.
Acting as a hub within the community for teen activity, Outback provides numerous opportunities for teens and preteens to engage in healthy alternate activities. From open drop-in hours and afterschool activities to weekend events, Outback supports New Canaan youth in developmental tasks by providing them a place within the community aside from their home and school, where they can be involved in healthy socialization.
The Outback is governed by a two Board system: an Adult Board and a Student Governing Board. The Adult Board is responsible for community relations, community driven programming, fundraising, budget/fiscal management and other legal authority issues. The Student Governing Board is responsible for the planning and promotion of teen events and community service projects. The shared values and goals of participation include: building of trust and respect between teens and adults and growth of leadership skills.
The Director along with the professional Outback staff manages the administrative and operational duties of the center. Part-time Event/Program Coordinators, who are experienced in working with teens, are responsible for supervision and safety during hours of operation.
Outback is a not-for-profit 501(c) (3) organization. While the town of New Canaan covers a small portion of staffing costs, Outback must raise money to fund the balance of these costs as well as 100% of annual operating expenses, regular maintenance, facility upgrades and programming designed to reach out and appeal to a broad cross-section of teenagers.
Initial efforts to address the needs of teens in New Canaan date back to 1985 when the New Canaan Teen Center, Inc. was originally established as a 501(c)(3) organization. The group ran programs at the YMCA on Friday and Saturday nights for several years. However, lack of a singularly themed and dedicated facility was recognized as a limiting factor. In 1995, a Needs Assessment survey by the United Way identified a lack of facilities and activities for the 1,800 teen residents to be “the most serious problem facing the community”.
In 1996, responding to the aforementioned survey, the town approved usage of the garage site behind Town Hall as the new location for a teen center. The Teen Center Board hired an Executive Director, and over a period of several years, raised $2.2 million from the community to construct and equip the building. Groundbreaking finally took place in May 2000 and the building was officially opened on April 29, 2001.
Although the needs of our youth have changed over the years, it has been proven that there is still a need for a dedicated facility to fill needs of our youth. We, the board if directors, strive to continue the mission that started back in 2001.