November 17, 2011

Quality of Life: Reader Digest Campaign Empowers Americans To Help Local Communities

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 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, Nebraska, to expanding a public library in Ainsworth, Nebraska, to replacing fire hydrants in Boley, Oklahoma, to developing a skate and bike park in Armada, Michigan, to repairing a city art gallery in Manchester, New Hampshire, to bringing back 4th of July fireworks in Jackson, Illinois. More important, 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.

Dan Lagani, president of Reader's Digest North America, says, "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. 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, 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 towns, describe the needs of their communities, 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 being featured in the Reader's Digest annual Best of America issue and on Communities participating in the initiative may also be featured in Reader's Digest and on during 2012.

"People have always turned to Reader's Digest for the best stories in America. We wanted to turn the tables and have America tell us what's interesting and inspiring," says Liz Vaccariello, Reader's Digest chief content officer and editor-in-chief. "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," says Michaels. "It starts with all of you. Go to 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 fund-raising costs.

"There is a desire among people to take matters into our own hands and start working together to fix America," says Lagani. "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 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