Tear the Paper Ceiling Partnership

College Board Announces Support of the New ‘Tear the Paper Ceiling’ Campaign to Create Equitable Hiring Practices for Majority of U.S. Workers

The Ad Council, Opportunity@Work, and nearly 50 employers, training providers, and nonprofits join forces to support workers Skilled Through Alternative Routes (STARs), rather than through a bachelor’s degree.

September 21, 2022 – Today, College Board and a coalition led by nonprofit organizations the Ad Council and Opportunity@Work announce the launch of Tear the Paper Ceiling. The national public service advertising (PSA) campaign calls on businesses and decision makers to remove the barriers blocking 50% of workers in the U.S. from accessing equitable job opportunities.

The multiyear campaign – supported by nearly 50 national organizations and developed by world-renowned creative agency Ogilvy – aims to create opportunities for upward mobility for the more than 70 million workers in the U.S. who are Skilled Through Alternative Routes (STARs). These paths can include community college, workforce training, bootcamps, certificate programs, military service, or on-the-job learning, rather than a bachelor’s degree. Today, STARs face a “paper ceiling” – the invisible barrier that comes at every turn for workers without a bachelor’s degree. The Tear the Paper Ceiling campaign highlights both the historic challenges facing STARs in the labor market and the skills and experience they bring to their careers.

"There is so much untapped talent in this country – including many remarkable young people who don't have four-year degrees. Through BigFuture, we are privileged to dialogue with millions of high school students every year about pathways to success in the workforce. We are proud to collaborate with Opportunity@Work and others so that all students can build a big future, even if they don't earn a four-year degree."
– David Coleman, CEO, College Board

Since 2000, STARs have lost access to 7.4 million higher-wage jobs, even though they have demonstrated the skills to succeed in those roles. Over the last 40 years, the wage gap between STARs and workers with bachelor’s degrees has doubled, and adjusted for inflation, STARs now actually earn less on average than they did in 1976. These losses come despite the fact that according to insights from Opportunity@Work there are 4 million STARs already in high-wage roles, while 32 million more STARs have the skills for significantly higher-wage work (72% higher on average) based on their current roles.

College Board is investing in BigFuture® to help more students connect to educational opportunities that lead to good careers. BigFuture is a free, comprehensive set of digital resources that helps all students take the right first step after high school. Today's high school students deserve to enter a workforce that recognizes their talent, even if they don’t pursue a 4-year degree.

Along with College Board, Tear the Paper Ceiling is supported by nearly 50 national organizations ranging from employers to philanthropies and workforce development organizations. Together, this coalition will broaden the impact and reach of the multiyear campaign, and includes:

  • Accenture
  • Chevron
  • Cognizant Foundation
  • Comcast NBCUniversal
  • Gap Foundation
  • Grads of Life
  • Generation USA
  • Google
  • IBM
  • IDEO
  • James Irvine Foundation
  • JFF
  • Lightcast
  • LinkedIn
  • Merit America
  • National Fund for Workforce Solutions
  • National Skills Coalition
  • Northern Virginia Community Colleges
  • NPower
  • Per Scholas
  • SkillUp Coalition
  • Strada Education Network
  • Walmart
  • Workday
  • WorkingNation
  • Year Up

Organizations, employers, STARs and other individuals can join the movement by visiting TearThePaperCeiling.org to share their stories, sign a pledge to support STARs, and learn more about how to adopt and promote skills-based hiring practices.