They strode in, two abreast, as young initiates, but they left as men.

The 16th annual Rites of Passage ceremony was held March 8 at the Marriott in Minnetonka. There, 10 college-bound young men who had completed a six-month program of workshops, community service and mentorships were hailed for their success.

Parents, mentors and other supporters gathered to toast the promising achievers, noting their colleges, their career aspirations and their extracurricular pursuits. The young men were robed in African garb by their mentors and presented gifts to their parents as part of the program, sponsored by the Minneapolis chapter of Jack and Jill, an international organization of black mothers.

“We’re celebrating African-American young men who will contribute to society in a positive manner,” said Vanessa Ware, program chairwoman and chapter vice president. “We’ve had over 240 initiates go through the program over the years, including some who are first-generation college. They have given us a lot to be proud of.”