Word Up is a multilingual, general-interest community bookshop and arts space in Washington Heights, New York City, committed to preserving and building a neighborhood in which all residents help each other to live better informed and more expressive lives, using books as an instrument of reciprocal education and exchange, empowering not only themselves, but their community.

Word Up is run by members of the uptown community. By hosting readings, concerts, screenings, art exhibitions, talks and workshops, community meetings, and other activities for kids and adults, we do our best to support and fortify the creative spirit unique to our diverse, uptown community.

Word Up is a program of the 501(c)3 nonprofit organization Seven Stories Institute, whose mission is to provide necessary books to communities that do not otherwise have access to them, 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.

Word Up began as a one-month pop-up shop in June 2011 on the corner of 176thStreet and Broadway, then stayed open for over a year at its original location because of overwhelming community demand. After a new landlord ended the original lease, the volunteer collective continued to distribute books and program events. The collective launched a successful fundraising campaign in late 2012, raising more than $70,000 from more than 800 funders, to reopen Word Up in its current, permanent location at 165th Street and Amsterdam Avenue on July 26, 2013.

Word Up is operated by a collective of 60+ neighborhood residents. Since our founding, nearly 500 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. The majority of volunteers in decision-making roles are women. Among our diverse group of current booksellers, approximately 30 have taken on additional responsibility as keyholders. At any given time, 6–10 volunteers are under the age of 20. Volunteers hail from USA, Dominican Republic, Mexico, etc. Many are longtime uptown residents, and some since birth. Indeed a cross section of the neighborhood, among our volunteers are people from the LGBTQ community, people with visible and non-visible disabilities, and people from a range of socioeconomic backgrounds.


Emmanuel Abreu, Volunteer, Website, & Video Manager
Amel Derras-Chouk, Fundraising Associate
Veronica Santiago Liu, Founder & General Coordinator
Renzo Moyano, Afterschool Programs Facilitator & Translation Lead 
Michael Tencer, Web Orders Manager & Sales Administration
Carolina Valencia, Assistant General Coordinator & Events Manager


Raquel Batista
Noah Bernstein
D'Lonra Ellis
Sita Frederick
Daniella Gitlin
Nicholas Martinez

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

To reach the general coordination team, please email info[at]wordupbooks[dot]com. 

To inquire about events, please see our events FAQ page, and/or email events[at]wordupbooks[dot]com.

To inquire about volunteering, please email volunteer[at]wordupbooks.com to find out the next orientation date. Please include a little bit about yourself. One of the volunteers managers will reply as soon as they can.

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.