About

 

WHAT IS WORD UP?

Word Up Community Bookshop/Librería Comunitaria is a multilingual, collectively operated bookshop & arts space in Washington Heights, committed to co-creating a place where residents support each other to live better informed & more expressive lives. Embracing cooperative practices, we champion books & storytelling in all forms to overcome systemic barriers to cultural access. We strive to make our neighborhood a resource-rich site for all to grow, learn, & celebrate our unique heritages. 

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

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, Volunteer, Website, & Video Manager
Amel Derras-Chouk, Fundraising Associate
Robby Kim, Community Programs Facilitator
Veronica Santiago Liu, Founder & General Coordinator
Jennifer Ortiz, Community Programs Facilitator
Michael Tencer, Web Orders Manager & Sales Administration
Carolina Valencia, Assistant General Coordinator & Events Manager
Memphis Washington, Community Programs Facilitator

BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Noah Bernstein
Angie Cruz
D'Lonra Ellis
, vice president
Sita Frederick, secretary
Daniella Gitlin, president
Nicholas Martinez

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 2018–19, our programs are supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development in partnership with City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez and City Council Member Mark Levine; Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corporation; LMCC; the New York State Council on the Arts; the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and administered by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council; the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in partnership with Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer; Partnership for Parks Inwood Parks Grant, made possible by Columbia University; Hesed Foundation; Elephant Rock Foundation; Severus Foundation; New York Council for the Humanities d/b/a Humanities New York.