Voting officially begins for U.S. Cellular’s “Calling All Communities Campaign” on Sept. 9, but it’s not too early for people to start rallying and organizing their community to support their favorite schools.

With a wider winner’s circle this year – 18 schools will win a share of $1 million as opposed to 10 in previous years – there is even more incentive to spread the word before the campaign begins. The top vote-receiving school will win $150,000, and the next 17 will each receive $50,000.

“Start spreading the word to friends, families and neighbors that Calling All Communities is coming back,” said Eric Conlon, director of sales for U.S. Cellular in Maine, in a press release. “We also invite everyone to stop by any U.S. Cellular store and talk to our associates about the upcoming campaign and learn about our cutting-edge devices and unique benefits. Our Maine associates are proud of this program and love to hear the creative ways communities come together to support their schools.”

U.S. Cellular is committed to supporting schools through Calling All Communities, and the company reports that the grassroots effort and lasting community benefits fostered by the campaign resonate with many past champions.

Between Sept. 9 and Oct. 6, anyone 18 years or older can visit any U.S. Cellular store and ask an associate for a code to vote for their favorite school at uscellular.com. Each voting code gives people the opportunity to vote online once daily until the campaign ends.

The voting cards will feature a peel-off sticker that gives thousands of lucky supporters a chance to cast two votes a day or be one of 18 people to win one year of free U.S. Cellular wireless service. In addition, 2,000 randomly-selected voters will be awarded a $25 U.S. Cellular debit card simply for supporting their schools.

Previous winners have used a number of effective strategies to engage voters. Here are a few examples of what schools from U.S. Cellular’s past campaigns have done to build excitement in their communities:

• Formed committees to generate community support.

• Hosted community rallies.

• Posted information on the school’s website and published information in the school newsletter to encourage voting. Some created a link to the Calling All Communities page at uscellular.com for updates to keep the momentum going.

• Engaged sports teams, the school band or student groups and armed them with campaign flyers that can be found at uscellular.com to spread the word.

• Asked local businesses to share campaign flyers with their customers or hang flyers on their premises.

• Used social networking sites such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to talk about the campaign.

• Engaged alumni across the country.

Public and private schools, kindergarten through high school, are eligible to win a share of $1 million that can be used any way the schools see fit. No purchase is necessary and you don’t have to be a U.S. Cellular customer to vote. The winning schools will be announced in October and November. For more information about U.S. Cellular and Calling All Communities, visit uscellular.com or U.S. Cellular’s Facebook page.