Minneapolis Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc.

Rites of Passage Program

The Rites of Passage Program (ROP) is sponsored annually by the Minneapolis Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. and is a six-month program designed to recognize and assist young African American men in the transition into leaders of tomorrow while learning and respecting our collective history as people of African descent. Each year the ROP initiates are African American male high school seniors selected from the Minneapolis and St. Paul metropolitan area who are college-bound, have cumulative GPAs of 2.5 or higher, are actively engaged in community service and do not have criminal records or children.

The initiates are each paired with an African American adult male mentor, many of whom are Jack and Jill fathers or former initiates. Under the leadership and guidance of the mentors and the Jack and Jill mothers, the initiates are immersed in a variety of workshops and activities focusing on topics such as time management, collegiate application and financial aid process, men’s health, legal rights, life skills, social and personal responsibility and communicating a positive image in a digital world. The Initiates and the mentors also bond in an overnight retreat, perform community service together and receive advice from former initiates at an annual alumni reunion. Each initiate, upon acceptance into the program after interviewing and completing an application, is provided a Rites of Passage handbook to help them maneuver through the program. The initiate is to bring the handbook to every workshop. The mentor is provided a handbook as well.

The program culminates in an Afrocentric semi-formal ceremony in which the initiates perform a step routine, are robed in tailor made African attire by their mentors and are presented to their families and community as young men, ready for the next challenges in life. After the ceremony, the initiates join their family and friends for a full dinner and dance.

Each initiate is also responsible for fundraising by selling ads for the Souvenir Program Book, which is available at the ceremony. The initiates decide which local charities should receive the funds and they have included programs to assist underprivileged children and youth. The ROP Program has also received funding from several sponsors such as 3M, Surmodics, General Mills, Lifetouch, Health Partners, Best Buy, The Crimson and Cream Foundation, The Monitors (African American male organization) C2X and individual Jack and Jill mothers to help defray the cost of the program for those young men who are financially not able to pay the program fees.. These organizations have played an intricate role in this program by providing mentors, participating in seminars, and providing financial assistance, Over the past four years, ROP has raised over $135,000.00 and donated over $33,000.00 to community organizations (as described above) and over $12,000.00 to the Jack and Jill Foundation.

Over the past 19 years, the vast majority of over 275 initiates have gone to college, and many have returned to serve as mentors or workshop presenters in the Rites of Passage Program. The annual Alumni Reunion serves as a great opportunity for past initiates and mentors to re-connect.