Announcing the passing of Gloria Kapp

It is with deep sadness that we announce the sudden passing of our vice president and dear friend, Gloria Kapp, who died last week of heart failure. Gloria joined the Safe Schools Desert Cities Board of Directors in 2016, after retiring from a forty-year career in higher education at the California State University locations in Los Angeles, Long Beach, and San Bernardino. In addition to her role as vice president, Gloria chaired the Awards and Scholarships Committee, utilizing her extensive experience to help countless numbers of students achieve academic success. Gloria lived a remarkable life of service. She was an inspiration and we will miss her deeply. We send sincere condolences to Gloria’s wife, Joan, her extended family, and to all who knew and loved her. May she rest in peace.

A Hopeful Spring

In March 2020, the Rainbow Youth Summit became our last in-person event of that year as the COVID-19 pandemic began to take hold. The waves of infection surges that followed required the cancellation of the Summit and other events for 2021 and 2022. Now, with waning infection rates and relaxing restrictions, things are finally looking up.

At Safe Schools Desert Cities, we are hopeful that upcoming events can and will resume safely. The Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast is scheduled for May 11 and the Pride Prom for May 13. More information on these events and others will be posted on our website and social media channels soon, so please stay tuned.

In the meantime, let’s celebrate the return of smiles, hugs, and togetherness

Eric Ornelas
President, Safe Schools Desert Cities

Safe Schools Desert Cities and GSA Clubs Gather for Pride

By Eric Ornelas, SSDC president

The 2021 Greater Palm Springs Pride Festival was held on November 6 and 7 in downtown Palm Springs where Safe Schools Desert Cities hosted the Youth Zone and marched in the parade.

Several GSA Clubs from the Coachella Valley and surrounding areas walked in the parade with Safe Schools Desert Cities. Walking the parade route with their friends and advisors and listening to the cheers of hundreds of spectators proved to be an uplifting experience for our students. A common reaction from the kids was, “this is the best day ever!”

The parade was impactful for spectators as well. The sight of hundreds of LGBTQ+ students walking boldly and proudly down Palm Canyon Drive, left some spectators emotional and in tears. “I never thought I would see this in my lifetime. It’s fantastic,” said one spectator. 

Our friends at Walmart/Sam’s Club provided a free pre-parade breakfast for our kids along with backpacks filled with Pride t-shirts, assorted flags, face glitter, and other goodies. Employees from the Palm Springs and La Quinta locations gathered prior to the parade to assemble the bags for our kids. We could not be more thankful for their support!

After the parade, our students gathered at the Youth Zone where they had lunch, rested, participated in activities, or just hung out. Activity and information booths were provided by the Rainbow Youth Pride Alliance, Borrego Health, and DAP Health to entertain and educate our students. These organizations have been amazing partners, and we are grateful for their participation.

Lunch was provided in the Youth Zone by The Sandwich Spot, Palm Springs. Store owner, Dena Banes, and her crew worked extra hard and extra early on an already busy day to assemble 250 sandwiches for our kids. Thank you, Dena and team. The sandwiches were a hit!

The Youth Zone and parade participation were made possible by our volunteers, GSA advisors, and by Ron De Harte, president of the Palm Springs Pride Organization. Ron and his team continue to be invaluable partners. We are thankful for the support and look forward to next year.

A return to hope, optimism, and celebration

June is LGBTQ+ Pride month and to kick off the celebrations we are pleased to welcome you to the first edition of the Safe Schools Desert Cities Connection, a free newsletter to help keep you connected and informed on upcoming activities, events, and programs for LGBTQ+ youth and their allies.

With the pandemic recovery finally underway, Pride 2021 promises to be full of hope and optimism. Soon students and teachers will return to classrooms, GSA club members will gather again, and our in-person events, such as the Advisor Luncheon and the Youth Zone at Palm Springs Pride, will resume.

In this inaugural edition, Vice President Gloria Kapp provides an update on the Safe Schools Desert Cities Awards and Scholarships Program. In addition, you will find an updated calendar of events, an introduction to SSDC’s new GSA Advisor Liaison Team, a Safe Schools in the news item from the Desert Sun, a testimonial from an SSDC alum and award recipient, and information on how you can support Safe Schools Desert Cities.

We certainly hope you find this information helpful and invite your feedback. Please let us know if you have questions, comments, or suggestions. You can connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or through

On behalf of the Safe Schools Desert Cities board of directors, I thank you sincerely for your enthusiastic support of our work. Together, we can build a better future for all.

Happy Pride!

Market Research & Awareness

Market Research & Awareness

Hello. I was recently appointed president of Safe Schools Desert Cities (SSDC), a nonprofit organization that works directly with Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) clubs in area middle and high schools to empower LGBT+ youth, allies, and advisors through education, guidance, advocacy, resources, and opportunities for self-expression. Our signature events include the Rainbow Youth Summit, Leadership Camp, Youth Zone at PS Pride, and Pride Prom.
Currently I’m doing market research for an upcoming awareness campaign for SSDC, and I need a few good participants willing to share their thoughts. I am looking to connect with people who are interested in organizations that support LGBT+ youth.
Thank you in advance for your help!
-Eric Ornelas

PO Box 1662
Palm Springs, CA 92263

Safe Schools Desert Cities Corp is a registered non‐profit 501(c)(3) public charity organization and contributions are tax deductible to the fullest extent permitted by law.

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