On November 16, 2011, Reader’s Digest's staff kicked off its second annual We Hear You America campaign, in which towns across the U.S. can compete to win funds and promotional support, including a grant of up to $50,000 for community projects. Missoula residents have already started logging on in droves to vote for their town, and with just a little more local support, Missoula could have a shot at winning the grand prize.

Any town is eligible to win, regardless of population. Last year’s grand prize winner, Grand Marais, Mich., obtained 1,281,724 votes despite having a population of only 300. The $40,000 prize money Grand Marais won is being used to repair the town’s damaged sea wall.

We Hear You America is truly a grassroots movement driven by community spirit. Vote for Missoula and start a conversation about how our community could benefit from a $50,000 grant. You can show your community spirit by logging on to www.readersdigest.com/america and voting for Missoula as many times as you'd like.

NEW YORK, Nov. 16, 2011 – Reader's Digest today launched the second year of its We Hear You America campaign, the popular national, grassroots initiative that serves as a catalyst to empower Americans to help their local communities by casting votes at ReadersDigest.com on behalf of their hometowns. Last year’s program touched 50 percent of the cities, towns and villages in the United States, 110 of which received funds and promotional support for needed community projects and civic initiatives.

To date, the program has helped fund and promote quality-of-life projects ranging from building a new municipal pool in Genoa, Neb., to expanding a public library in Ainsworth, Neb., to replacing fire hydrants in Boley, Okla., to developing a skate and bike park in Armada, Mich., to repairing a city art gallery in Manchester, N.H., to bringing back Fourth of July fireworks in Jackson, Ill. More importantly, the stories of these and other communities were highlighted by Reader’s Digest in its magazine and on its digital and social media channels to bring them to the attention of people across the country.

“The We Hear You America campaign is about giving back to the people and towns that have meant so much to Reader’s Digest over the years," said Dan Lagani, president of Reader’s Digest North America. "Cities, towns and villages across our country continue to face economic challenges. Reader’s Digest is bringing back We Hear You America to help these communities get the attention they deserve. This year, we're doing even more to stimulate local economies and improve communities all across the country with an even larger financial and promotional commitment to the campaign and the creation of the new Reader’s Digest We Hear You America Foundation.”

How to participate

It’s easy for people to vote for a town. Go online, log on to ReadersDigest.com, type in the name of the town, and click on the word “Vote.” People may cast as many votes as they like. While on the site, individuals are encouraged to upload photos of their town, describe the needs of their community and talk about why where they live is the best place in America. The We Hear You America campaign will provide support to the towns receiving the most votes, including featuring them in the Reader’s Digest annual Best of America issue and on ReadersDigest.com. Communities participating in the initiative may also be featured in Reader’s Digest and on ReadersDigest.com during 2012.

“People have always turned to Reader’s Digest for the best stories in America," said Liz Vaccariello, Reader’s Digest chief content officer and editor-in-chief. “We wanted to turn the tables and have America tell us what’s interesting and inspiring. Who better than Reader’s Digest to cut through the bureaucracy and red tape to help towns fund projects and to enhance community pride, while providing communities a platform to express what help they need to improve their lives.”

Reader's Digest has joined forces with rocker and pop culture icon Bret Michaels to expand the reach of the We Hear You America campaign. Bret is the perfect partner for this campaign because he brings his experiences as a survivor, a rocker, a father, a philanthropist and an American who has traveled this great land by tour bus from coast-to-coast.

“As a musician and an artist, I wanted to get involved in the We Hear You America campaign because it’s not only about inspiring people to improve their lives and their communities, but about giving everyone a voice,” Michaels said. "It starts with all of you. Go to ReadersDigest.com every day to vote for your hometown. Your votes, joined with others' in your community, could get your hometown funds and promotional support from the We Hear You America campaign.”

We Hear You America Foundation

Last year’s We Hear You America campaign put the spotlight on communities and their needs so successfully that many Americans wanted to know how they could help towns like theirs beyond casting their votes online. To address that need, Reader’s Digest has formed the We Hear You America Foundation. The goal of the foundation, which is in the process of applying for 501(c)3 status, will be to help fund, through the generosity of Americans, community projects that will help local cities, towns and villages enrich their quality of life. Reader’s Digest intends to contribute financially to the foundation and will cover administrative and fundraising costs.

“There is a desire among people to take matters into our own hands and start working together to fix America,” Lagani said. “Reader’s Digest has been a trusted source of ideas, stories, experiences and products for generations. We view creation of a 501(c)3 foundation by Reader’s Digest to support the We Hear You America campaign as another way we can be a catalyst to engage people across the country in helping to fix America.”

To help jump-start contributions, Reader’s Digest is offering anyone who contributes $10 via ReadersDigest.com a one-year subscription to Reader’s Digest magazine as a bonus. Americans can learn more about the Reader’s Digest We Hear You America Foundation and how to contribute at WeHearYouAmericaFoundation.org.

About The Reader's Digest Association, Inc.

Reader’s Digest Association is a global media and direct marketing company that educates, entertains, and connects more than 140 million consumers around the world with products and services from trusted brands. With offices in 44 countries, the company reaches customers in 79 countries, publishes 86 magazines, including 50 editions of Reader's Digest, the world's largest-circulation magazine, operates 82 branded websites, and sells nearly 40 million books, music, and video products across the world each year. Further information about the company can be found at www.rda.com.

About Bret Michaels

Rocker and pop culture icon Bret Michaels has been making hits—whether solo, or with his legendary rock group, Poison—for 25 years. Poison’s record sales, in combination with those from Bret’s solo albums, exceed 31 million records and DVDs worldwide, with chart-topping hits such as "Every Rose Has Its Thorn” and "Something to Believe In," among many others. Beyond his legendary work with Poison, as well as his acclaimed solo career, Michaels has gone on to enjoy a stunningly successful run in the realm of reality TV, including a first place finish on 2010’s “The Celebrity Apprentice,” and VH1 hits such as “Rock of Love” and “Life as I Know It.” An edgy rocker with a knack for originality, Michaels is also a skilled businessman and diehard philanthropist. A true pop culture icon, Michaels has earned an array of titles ranging from People Magazine's Top 50 most intriguing people three years running, to Winner of the “Celebrity Apprentice,” to Maxim Magazine’s top 100 hottest people.

Michaels recently partnered with Dean Guitars, to design his first ever signature Bret Michaels series, which sold out on HSN within minutes of their debut. Michaels also partnered with retail giant Pet Smart for a line of pet products due out in 2012 with Pet Smart, and his Diet Snapple Trop-a-Rocka Tea remains one of the best-selling drinks in Snapple’s line-up. Philanthropy remains an important facet of Michaels’ career as well: a lifelong diabetic, Michaels partnered with the American Diabetes Association in 2010, acting as a spokesperson and sponsor. He gives generously to the cause, donating both his time, money, and support to a number of diabetes charities. Bret continues to evolve as an artist and as an entrepreneur, taking on new projects in music, business, and beyond. His “Get Your Rock On” solo tour will continue through New Year’s Eve.

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