Skip to Content

Visit Central Oregon awards $450,000 to 15 tourism-related projects through Central Oregon Future Fund

Visit Central Oregon created the Central Oregon Future Fund to support local tourism projects that promote accessible adventure, cultural tourism, and stewardship to help preserve the region’s natural amenities and rugged beauty.
Visit Central Oregon
Visit Central Oregon created the Central Oregon Future Fund to support local tourism projects that promote accessible adventure, cultural tourism, and stewardship to help preserve the region’s natural amenities and rugged beauty.

SUNRIVER, Ore. (KTVZ) — Visit Central Oregon announced Thursday that 15 recipients will be awarded a total of $450,000 in grant money as part of the Central Oregon Future Fund.

The grant program to support local tourism projects benefiting both visitors and residents is in its second annual cycle. Visit Central Oregon selected the 15 recipients from a total of 26 applications requesting more than $1 million in funding.

The recipients represent a wide range of tourism-related projects — from a new and innovative series of exhibitions focusing on diverse stories and cultures, including those of Indigenous and Latinx communities at the High Desert Museum to supporting rural Antelope with a catalytic hub for travelers to use restrooms, refill on water, and to be use as a multi-use outdoor event space for their community.

Each has at least one thing in common: Every project awarded a Central Oregon Future Fund grant emphasized sustainable tourism programs and enhancements in line with the Fund’s pillars of promoting accessible adventure, cultural tourism, and stewardship.

The 26 applications included seven access adventure projects, 13 cultural tourism projects, and six stewardship projects. The 15 applicants being awarded include four access adventure projects, seven cultural tourism projects, and four stewardship projects.

“Now in our second year of the Future Fund, Visit Central Oregon is proud to continue supporting projects and programs that have a positive impact on our communities throughout the region,” said Kristine McConnell, VP of Regional Programs for Visit Central Oregon.

The 2024 Central Oregon Future Fund Grantees include:

Antelope 3, LLC – Antelope Pavilion ($50,000): The Antelope Pavilion project will provide a safe and inclusive “stopping place” for travelers looking to use restrooms, refill on water, and/or relax. It will also serve to kickstart the local economy by providing a multi-use outdoor event space.

Asterisk Astronomy – Astronomy Education ($16,155): This project will enhance the visitor experience at Asterisk Observatory – an astrotourism site hosted at The Spot at Smith Rock, which provides astronomy outreach and education.

Bend Endurance Academy – Enhancement and Accessibility Project ($13,200): Event outreach and adaptive climbing enhancements that aim to increase capacity and successfully draw climbing competitions, camps, and clinics during non-peak seasons.

Central Oregon Trail Alliance – Cline Butte Mountain Bike Trail Enhancement ($45,900): The project will build 2.5 miles of well-designed and sustainable new trail at Cline Butte, mitigating the impact for years to come. The trail system is already popular with residents and travelers due to its proximity to resort destinations and the communities of Tumalo, Redmond, Bend, and Sisters.

DarkSky Oregon – Beautiful Oregon Night Skies Educational Outreach ($24,500): “Beautiful Oregon Night Skies” seeks to halt and reverse the disappearance of our starry night skies in Central Oregon through educational outreach with creative public service announcements that encourage voluntary change of outdoor lighting.

Ensoterra – Improving Adaptive Water Sports and Accessibility in Central Oregon ($21,865): Marketing and outreach strategies of Ensoterra’s programs for improving accessibility and knowledge for anyone with a disability to enjoy the best fishing, kayaking, and standup-paddleboarding locations throughout Central Oregon.

Explore Prineville – High Desert Moonfest ($28,725): The High Desert Moonfest is a Harvest to Heritage celebration. Set for late October, this event celebrates an end to the farming season that has historically driven the Crook County economy since its founding.

The Father’s Group – Juneteenth Jubilee ($14,000): Juneteenth 2024 is a powerful, culturally rooted, Black-led event welcoming 15,000-20,000 visitors. The event invests in the local economy and celebrates the diaspora of African, Caribbean, and Black American culture, one of the largest celebrations in the US.

Gramma Roses – Accessibility Project ($20,000): Accessibility enhancements to increase the total interior square footage available to utilize for the petting zoo and visitors with disabilities.

High Desert Museum – Diverse Stories Exhibition Series ($50,000): The High Desert Museum will produce a series of new, innovative exhibitions and programs focused on diverse stories and cultures, bolstering cultural tourism and helping to make Central Oregon a welcoming and inclusive tourist destination.

Kah-Nee-Ta Resort – Artwork Design Project ($22,431):  Kah-Nee-Ta Resort will enhance the cultural experience of the Resort by partnering with a local artist for authentic artwork designed and painted on the exterior of its 20 new teepees.

Onward Project – AdvenChair AdvenTours ($44,650): The Onward Project and Wanderlust Tours will provide AdvenChair AdvenTours, a series of guided trips in natural areas of Central Oregon, designed for people with disabilities.

Oregon Equestrian Trails – Cline Buttes Trail Signs ($28,510):  The Cline Buttes Trail Signs project will take place over 50 square miles of BLM land between Bend, Redmond, and Sisters. The trails are a short distance from all three communities. In addition, some of the project’s trails are immediately adjacent to Eagle Crest and Thornburgh Resorts.

Scalehouse – Accessible Bend Design Conference Project ($28,000): The Bend Design Conference will expand the Design Humanity project in October 2024. The project includes investment in leaders, speakers, and artists from Warm Springs to attend and be included in the artistic program.

So. Wasco Alliance – Simnasho Tribal Market Project ($42,064):  The Simnasho Tribal Market, located in the northern tribal lands of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, will create opportunities for tribal members and travelers to meet each other, and be a welcoming space that is rich in cultural experience for all ages.

To be eligible, winning applications had to be aligned with three program pillars: Stewardship, cultural tourism, and expanding access to outdoor adventure. In all, The Central Oregon Future Fund awarded $450,000 in grants in what is the program’s second year. The grants are entirely funded by revenue generated from the region’s transient room tax that is dedicated to tourism programs.

“Visit Central Oregon is committed to supporting the region by reinvesting grant funds generated by tourism revenue dollars back into our communities to create a positive impact,” McConnell said. “Ultimately, Visit Central Oregon’s mission is to be stewards for the value that tourism brings to Central Oregon and ensure that the region remains a community we all enjoy.”

To learn more about the Central Oregon Future Fund and this year’s grant recipients, visit


Visit Central Oregon is a 501c6 that serves as the regional destination marketing organization. We drive overnight visitation to the region to support a thriving tourism economy. We inspire travel to the region through an integrated marketing campaign that celebrates our unique culture, people, and landscapes. As the Regional Destination Management Organization (RDMO) appointed by the Oregon Tourism Commission, we manage the Regional Cooperative Tourism Program (RCTP) which is leveraged by the Deschutes County budget to optimize the economic impact of tourism to the region. We collaborate with industry partners towards a shared healthy vision of tourism for the region.

Article Topic Follows: Business

Jump to comments ↓

KTVZ news sources


KTVZ NewsChannel 21 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content