Years of neglect and misuse of cemetery grounds can lead to a cemetery in serious need of maintenance and upkeep. Grant funding for the maintenance of cemetery properties may be secured through local community organizations, and federal funds may be available for cemeteries with certain federal affiliations. In some instances, financial assistance for the upkeep of headstones and burial plots may require solicitation through local businesses or residents.
VA Cemetery Grants Program
The Cemetery Grants Program available through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers federal funding to be used toward establishing a VA cemetery or improving existing facilities. Funding for this program is distributed by the Department of Veterans Affairs to state governments, which then release the funds as a state grant for veterans' cemeteries. Grant funding through this program may cover the entire cost of maintenance during an expansion or construction project within the cemetery.
Cemetery Restoration Committee of Patchogue
The Cemetery Restoration Committee of Patchogue is a nonprofit group dedicated to conservation and restoration of cemeteries in the Patchogue area of New York's Long Island. This grant-funded organization sponsors the Adopt-A-Plot program, a service that assigns volunteer workers to a specific burial plot to be responsible for its care and maintenance. Five area cemeteries have received assistance through the CRC's Adopt-A-Plot program since the project was established in 2006.
New Jersey Cemetery Association
Cemeteries in the state of New Jersey looking for grant funding for maintenance needs should join the New Jersey Cemetery Association. Cemeteries that are members of the NJCA are eligible for guidance on regulatory issues and insurance and can benefit from local networking opportunities and industry resources. The New Jersey Cemetery Association also provides a reporting system for cemeteries searching for maintenance and preservation assistance from the local community. Grant-funded resources available through the nonprofit NJCA include an operations advisory committee for individual cemeteries and various educational events, including an annual convention for cemetery industry professionals.
Although grant programs through industry nonprofits are scarce, financial and general assistance for the upkeep of cemeteries and graves can be obtained in various ways. Form a nonprofit organization dedicated to your cemetery's upkeep, and this may make more grant opportunities available. Local governments may be able to allocate industrial equipment owned by the municipality either for free or at a reduced price for volunteer work. You may also be able to solicit donations from local businesses interested in community involvement or local descendants of those laid to rest in a cemetery.
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: Veterans Cemetery Grants Program: General Information
- FindLaw: U.S. Code: Section 2408: Aid to States For Establishment, Expansion, and Improvement of Veterans' Cemeteries
- Cemetery Restoration Committee of Patchogue: Adopt-A-Plot
- Texas Historical Commission: Preserving Historic Cemeteries
- Photo Credit Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images
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