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  • Writer's pictureOlivia Fortunato

Frankie Manning Foundation History: Background

The idea for the Frankie Manning Foundation came about during the early planning stages of Frankie’s 95th Birthday Festival, when Frankie was still alive. Organizers Buddy Steves, David Jacoby, Tena Morales, and Elliott Donnelley decided that the Festival would be a nonprofit and an all-volunteer endeavor.

The vision for the Festival was to bring the global Lindy hop community together in order to celebrate the life and birthday of Frankie Manning, and to help promote and bring attention to the music and dance Frankie loved.

The team decided that any revenue generated by the Festival in excess of expenses would go to a dedicated fund that would be directed by Frankie Manning for the purposes of promoting Lindy hop around the world. The intention was to honor Frankie with the announcement of the new fund on the occasion of his 95th birthday.

In the months prior to his death, Frankie learned of and endorsed the plan to establish the fund. Before he passed away he appointed Judy Pritchett, his long-time companion, and Chazz Young, his eldest son, to represent him in matters relating to the fund.

After Frankie Manning’s 95th Birthday Festival all revenues in excess of expenses went to form the Frankie Manning Foundation. For now, the fund is housed within the Houston Swing Dance Society, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public charity.

The Frankie Manning Foundation is directed by an independent advisory board that currently consists of the following individuals: Chazz Young, Judy Pritchett, Cynthia Millman (Frankie’s co-author), Buddy Steves, Elliott Donnelley, and Mandi Gould (Overall Producer, Frankie 100).

Frankie Manning Foundation Scholarship Programs

Up to his last days, Frankie Manning poured his considerable talent, charm and energy into his personal mission of spreading Lindy hop around the world. In particular, Frankie always wished that there could be more of an interest in Lindy hop among young African-Americans. The Frankie Manning Foundation could find no better tribute to Frankie than to continue his work building the Lindy hop community. To this end we have offered several scholarships and incentives to dancers to study the Lindy hop, its history and Frankie’s story so that they may pass it on to others.

In collaboration with the Herrang Dance Camp and Beantown Camp, we have been able to provide full scholarships, accommodation and transportation to 19 different individuals since 2011. In addition, we have made an annual grant to support the youth program of the International Lindy Hop Championships.  With your generous donations, we are able to provide scholarships for 20 dancers to attend the Frankie 100 celebration in New York City. We have also provided small grants for transportation and classes to a number of individuals and facilities. This year, Swingout New Hampshire will join the scholarship program, along with Camp Jitterbug in 2015, and we hope to add other high quality dance camps in the future.  Other future plans include enabling teachers to have residencies in geographic areas where there is an interest in Lindy hop.


Every time we see a picture of Frankie Manning smiling at us all, the Frankie Manning Foundation and its supporters can be sure that he is pleased that his work is being carried on.

Other Frankie Manning Foundation projects have included:

  1. The purchase and installation of the Frankie Manning headstone at Woodlawn Cemetery (see photo page xx) and maintenance of the gravesite.

  2. Promoting public awareness of Frankie Manning through grants to independent documentary films.

  3. Spearheading the annual global birthday celebrations on Frankie’s birthday, May 26th, and the entire month of May.


Sharing Frankie’s History

A prime goal of the Frankie Manning Foundation is to educate people about the life and work of Frankie Manning. We hope to:

  1. Fulfill Frankie’s wish of having his memorabilia housed in a library where it is easily accessible.

  2.  Create an archive of all video materials connected with Frankie.

  3. Share Frankie’s life and artistic heritage by supporting those who are working to pass on his legacy.

If you are interested in helping to achieve these goals, please contact us.

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