About

 

MISSION

Word Up Community Bookshop/Librería Comunitaria is a multilingual, collectively operated bookshop and arts space in Washington Heights, committed to co-creating a place where residents support each other to live informed and expressive lives. Embracing cooperative practices, we champion books and storytelling in all forms to build and sustain a more just world where people can live with dignity and autonomy. We strive to make our neighborhood a resource-rich site for all to grow, learn, and celebrate our heritages.

Word Up Community Bookshop is the assumed name of the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization Seven Stories Institute. 

Seven Stories Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide books to communities that do not otherwise have access to them—due to socioecomonics, geography, language, and other factors—to stimulate discussion of important policy issues within those communities who have the most to lose in the current political and economic crises but have the least access to the terms of the debate; to provide access to basic information; and to foster a lifelong love of reading. 

VERY BRIEF HISTORY OF WORD UP

In June 2011, Word Up opened as a temporary bookstore in a makeshift space, but became a permanent entity when thousands of neighbors demanded a continuation of the lease from the landlord; neighbors wanted a place to convene, converse, and connect with books. After a new landlord ended the lease, the collective continued to distribute books and program events without a physical location. A successful crowdfunding campaign in late 2012—raising more than $70,000 from more than 800 funders—enabled us to reopen in July 2013 in our current, permanent location at 2113 Amsterdam Avenue at 165th Street. In 2021, we opened a pop-up location, Recirculation, to honor a collective member who passed away from COVID-19. 

WHO OPERATES WORD UP?
Word Up is operated by a collective of 60+ neighborhood residents. Since our founding, approximately 1,000 neighbors have been trained as volunteers at Word Up. We practice horizontal leadership, seeking consensus as much as possible, though weighting decision-making power to those who will execute the work. 

STAFF
Emmanuel Abreu, Video Manager
Veronica Santiago Liu, Founder & General Coordinator
Michael Tencer, Web Orders Manager & Sales Administration
Carolina Valencia, Events & Marketing Manager
Jacqueline Zeisloft, Fundraising Associate

BOARD OF DIRECTORS
D'Lonra Ellis, vice president
Sita Frederick, secretary
Daniella Gitlin, president
Myong Jin

Read about our staff and board of directors on the Who We Are page.

Word Up is supported by the generosity of hundreds of community donors. In 2022–24, our programs are supported, in part, by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature; New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; UMEZ Arts Engagement, a regrant program supported by the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone (UMEZ), and administered by LMCC; New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in partnership with Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine; and New York City Department of Youth and Community Development in partnership with City Council Member Carmen De La Rosa. We are also grateful for the support of New World Foundation; Literary Arts Emergency Fund; JPB Foundation; New York Community Trust—WellMet Fund Group; NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital; Hispanic Federation/Google; LMCC; Comcast Community impact Grant; LitNYS Capacity Grant; Medical Center Neighborhood Fund; Poets and Writers; Hesed Foundation; and Miranda Family Fund.broken heart