An eerie landscape, with a lonely road running through the center of a golden field.

Eastern Oregon Regional Grant Program

Budget: $77,065

Launched in October 2019, EOVA’s regional grants program aligns with the organization’s mission to promote the Eastern Oregon visitor experience and to enhance and preserve the region’s quality of life and economy; the grant program’s key initiatives are to:

  • Drive visitation from Eastern Oregon’s key domestic and international markets.
  • Develop destination-based products that are in concert with Eastern Oregon’s natural environment, support the stewardship of the state’s resources and its rich history.
  • Tie into or enhance one of EOVA’s marketing and development pillars of Outdoor, Cultural & Heritage, or Agritourism.
  • Provide strategic industry professional development and training opportunities.

Made possible by RCTP dollars, EOVA’s Regional Grants Program received 43 applications, totaling more than $322,000 in grant requests. A total of $81,850 was awarded to 20 projects throughout Eastern Oregon’s tourism region. Impacts of COVID-19 resulted in 17 projects funded at $69,350.

The grants program has been a great opportunity to engage with new partners and organizations, and to further grow and align collaborative efforts.


The goal of the Eastern Oregon Regional Grant Program was to grow new and developing destination assets by ensuring each grant recipient achieves identified grant objectives. The Regional Grant Program was open to regional organizations, businesses, and events to apply for small grants to accomplish specified objectives that might include enhanced capacity, production of marketing materials, advertising, and PR efforts.

Grant Recipient Highlights

Go Wild: American Adventures

A long and hilly dirt road cuts through a field. The field is shades of harvest yellow and reddish-orangish-brown and has a barbed wire fence the length of the field. The sky is mostly white with a hint of blue at the top of the image.
The old Lonerock City Jail is a simple wood building, and has a large door with rusted hardware and a small window with bars.  Above the large door is a sign that is slightly offcentered and read Lonerock City Jail 1891.
A row of seventeen mailboxes are in the foreground, with overgrown weeds and a vacant wood building behind. The mailboxes are of varying sizes, and are either metal or black. The roof of the vacant wood building is missing a number of shingles and is covered in moss.
Ghost towns, haunted locations, and other offbeat attractions serve as a strong draw for adventurous visitors.

Original Project Scope:

  1. Ghosts of Eastern Oregon trail itinerary development
  2. Union/Baker guided historic ghost tour
  3. Video to market both

COVID-19 caused the grant recipient to reevaluate priorities and reassess where they can be most useful to the Eastern Oregon region, its people, and its businesses. After seeing a dramatic drop off in bookings for the summer, Go Wild: American Adventures, submitted a modification to EOVA & the Grants Review Committee to divert grant funds (specifically Project Scope #2) to cover start-up costs associated with building a reliable, high quality, live-stream system and launch a new program (Travelyr). The goal of the program is to promote and support local art, cultural centers, and provide a valuable service to the community, reaching travelers far afield, and drive tourism to Eastern Oregon.

Creating Travelyr was one way we pivoted our grant funds. Diverted funds were used for the technology and expertise to launch these live streamed art lessons that benefited local EO art centers affected by COVID-19. We raised over $500 for 3 Eastern Oregon art centers and had over 340 live watchers throughout the sessions. Likewise, through the project we created free promotional videos for the artists, see below. We're on hiatus as we run tours this year but hope to continue this project indefinitely.
Dan Sizer, Go Wild: American Adventures
A video produced by Travelyr, highlighting Peter Clark—a regional craftsman who specializes in blacksmithing.

Grande Hot Springs & The Lodge at Hot Lake

The three concrete soaking tubs purchased with Grant Program funds, each filled and steaming.
One of the concrete soaking tubs, filled to the brim with warm water. The background is lightly obscured by steam.

Original Project Scope: Purchase 1 cedar soaking tub

Modified Project Scope: Installation of 3 larger, concrete soaking tubs

The EOVA Regional Grant sparked the conversation of what could be done to increase tourism and overnight visits to Eastern Oregon.  Adding an option for more hot springs soaking is a great way to accomplish that.  The grant helped fill the gap needed to bring this project to fruition.
Mike Rysavy, Grande Hot Springs & The Lodge at Hot Lake


The Eastern Oregon Visitors Association will continue its grant program. The organization is currently updating grant guidelines to be responsive to business needs and support economic recovery. EOVA will actively recruit applicants from throughout the region, and in Q1 FY22 will be a providing grant writing workshop for regional stakeholders to garner tools and techniques for writing competitive grant proposals.

Despite the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, many projects were able to proceed as intended or with a modified scope approved by the Grants Review Committee and EOVA staff. EOVA implemented a Grant Modification Request Form to allow grant recipients to pivot their projects to be more responsive to the current climate; three of the grant projects did not moving forward and eight grants shifted in timeline and/or scope. Recipients who submitted a Modification Request Form were asked to describe the original project scope, how the original project scope been impacted, and to describe the modification in scope request. Recipients were also asked to summarize the original goals and objectives of the project and how the modification in scope would change the project goals and objectives, and to summarize the original project outcomes and how the modification in scope changes project outcomes.

The Eastern Oregon Regional Grant Program was the first regional grant program that the organization conducted. The diverse projects from the region have had a significant economic and social impact.

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