Breaking Ground was founded in 2006 by Lindsay Clarke. In 2004, as a university student, Lindsay participated in the School for International Training’s Cameroon program. She returned to Dschang in 2006 with a grant from Wesleyan University. While teaching English at a primary school in the village of Doumbouo, 12 kilometers from Dschang in the West Region, Lindsay saw that the greatest barrier to her students’ success was the state of their classrooms, which had dirt floors and unplastered walls. On learning that the students’ parents had raised the funds themselves to build the school and that construction had been halted when funds ran out, Lindsay contacted her community in the United States to raise funds to assist the community in their endeavors. Over the course of seven months, she raised more than $12,000, which the village of Doumbouo used to finish the school and build a community library. Acknowledging that the success of this project was due to the enthusiasm, vision, and mobilization of the community in Doumbouo, Breaking Ground was founded to help similarly motivated and organized communities to achieve their goals.
As Breaking Ground evolved, it became clear that in addition to facilitating pre-existing projects through funding, there was also a need for capacity building programs that would give communities the tools to begin addressing their needs. In 2007, Breaking Ground sent Sarah Oxford to Ngaoundéré where she established Breaking Ground Football, a program which empowers young girls through soccer (football), and the Women's Entrepreneurial Program (WEP), a business class and grant program designed specifically for women. Following this, Breaking Ground representative Nathan Spence founded the West Cameroon Coffee Project, working with coffee farmers in the village of Bayangam in the West to provide training to improve product processing and assist the farmers in negotiating a fair price for their product in the international market. In 2010, Breaking Ground hired our first Program Director and started working in the Lebialem Valley, and in 2011 we opened our Dschang office. These developments increased Breaking Ground's visibility and reach.
In just five years, Breaking Ground has made measurable progress in tackling the inadequacies of social services and the barriers to grassroots efforts. Projects have included the improvement of a primary school in Doumbouo and the construction of a bilingual nursery and primary school in Ngaoundal, a bridge between Litieu and Melah, and a nursery school in Keuleng, the latter two both near Dschang. In Doumbouo, we funded the construction of a library that loaned more than 7,000 volumes to villagers in two years. Our Women’s Entrepreneurial Program has provided business skills training to more than 150 women and financed 21 new enterprises. Breaking Ground Football has empowered more than 120 young women since 2007.