Harold Matzner’s Philanthropy and its Impact on Palm Springs Identity

Harold Matzner is widely regarded as one of Palm Springs’ leading philanthropists, with a legacy that continues to shape the city’s identity today. His commitment to creating a vibrant community has been instrumental in making Palm Springs the mecca for the arts and culture that it is today. From public art installations to educational programs, Harold Matzner has had an undeniable impact on the development of Palm Springs and its unique sense of place.

Matzner first made his mark on the Coachella Valley region when he purchased The Spa Resort Casino in 1995. Throughout his tenure as owner, he has been actively involved in improving the quality of life for local residents through various charitable initiatives. In addition to providing free health care to low-income families, he also established numerous cultural institutions, including the Annenberg Theatre at the Rancho Mirage Public Library, which now houses one of the world’s most extensive collections of works of art.

The birth of a legacy

In 2006, Harold Matzner founded what would become one of his most prestigious contributions: The Harold & Grace Agriculture Center (HGAC), located just outside of downtown Palm Springs. This non-profit organization promotes sustainable agricultural practices by providing education and resources to local farmers and ranchers while raising awareness of food security issues in the region. HGAC serves as a living laboratory where students can engage in hands-on learning opportunities related to sustainable farming techniques while supporting the local economy.

Supporting local arts and culture

An avid supporter of local arts and culture, Harold Matzner has been instrumental in creating some of Palm Spring’s most iconic attractions. He helped establish the McCallum Theatre – a performing arts center located across from The Spa Resort Casino – which hosts musical performances, Broadway shows, comedy acts, and other events throughout the year. In addition, Matzner supported efforts surrounding Art After Dark – a series of nightly art exhibitions held throughout downtown – and was part of an initiative that led to the construction of Museum Hill Park – an outdoor park featuring sculptures by renowned artists including Henry Moore and Isamu Noguchi.

Bringing education to life

Throughout his career as a philanthropist, Harold Matzner has devoted much time and effort to promoting educational opportunities for young people in Palm Springs. He has provided funding for college scholarship programs at several universities, including California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB), where he donated more than $10 million for student scholarships in 2017 alone. In addition to this support for higher education initiatives, Harold Matzer donated more than half a million dollars to renovate library facilities throughout Riverside County, including the Cabazon Library, which now serves as the home base for many literacy programs designed to help children become lifelong readers.

Investing in community wellness

A believer in holistic approaches to wellness, Harold Matzner has also invested heavily in efforts to improve the mental health of the Palm Springs community through creative therapies such as free yoga classes offered in conjunction with the Desert Hot Springs Health Care District (DHS). This initiative provides much-needed access to stress-relieving activities that have been shown to be beneficial for those suffering from anxiety or depression. In addition, Mr. Matzer has worked closely with organizations such as SafeHouse – a shelter providing crisis intervention services – which has been instrumental in developing better pathways to recovery for individuals who are victims or survivors of abuse or trauma-related situations.


Through his endless dedication to making a positive difference in our community, it’s easy to say that there’s nothing more fitting than to describe him as “Palm Spring’s very own superhero”. Through donations spanning virtually every sector imaginable – from health care systems; educational advancements; cultural enrichments; mental wellness improvements – all playing key roles in shaping what “Identity” means here today… There is no doubt that without these invaluable gifts bestowed upon us by Mr. Harold Matzer … We wouldn’t be where we are now!

James Norris’s editorial director. He holds a master’s degree in journalism from New York University and a BA in English Language and Literature from Rutgers.