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2017 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Smile Train, Inc.

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Birth Defects & Genetic Diseases, Children & Youth, Children & Youth Services, Health, International, International Development

Mission: Smile Train is an international children’s charity with a sustainable approach to a single, solvable problem: cleft lip and palate. Millions of children in developing countries with untreated clefts live in isolation, but more importantly, have difficulty eating, breathing, hearing, and speaking. Cleft repair surgery is simple, and the transformation is immediate. Our sustainable model provides training, funding, and resources to empower local doctors in 85+ developing countries to provide 100%-free cleft repair surgery and comprehensive cleft care in their own communities. We use the “teach a man to fish” model focusing on training local doctors to perform cleft repairs in their communities. Those doctors then go on to train other doctors creating a long-term, sustainable system. Patients see their smile for the first time, parents cry tears of joy, lives and communities are changed forever. As a result of our efficiency and with the support of our donors and partners around the world, Smile Train has transformed the lives of more than one million children by giving them the power of a smile. Join us and change the world one smile at a time.

Results: Since its beginning in 1999 Smile Train has provided more than 1,000,000 free surgeries for children who would otherwise never have received it.

Target demographics: children suffering from cleft lips and palates

Direct beneficiaries per year: one child received cleft surgery every five minutes.

Geographic areas served: 85+ of the world's poorest countries

Programs: Globally, 1 in every 700 children is born with a cleft. While surgery can take as little as 45 minutes and costs as little as $250, it is out of reach for many in the developing world. Smile Train is an international children’s charity that provides 100%-free cleft repair surgery and comprehensive cleft care to children in 85+ developing countries. Our sustainable model empowers local doctors to provide cleft care in their own communities. Most children who are born with a cleft lip and/or palate develop normal speech once their palate is closed, but a significant amount will need further surgery or speech therapy. Communication problems that are addressed include language delay, articulation problems, and hypernasality. In the developed world, cleft repair is typically provided by multidisciplinary cleft/craniofacial teams comprised of professionals from a variety of healthcare backgrounds including surgeons and orthodontists who work on the child’s total rehabilitation. Smile Train provides vital dental and orthodontic treatment in countries where they are available. Smile Train provides essential free training and education to cleft surgeons and related medical professionals around the world. Since 1999, we have provided more than 66,000 free scholarships, surgical training resources, workshops, and symposiums for doctors and medical professionals from 140+ countries. Smile Train provides financial support that has been used for a wide range of applications, including new operating rooms, cleft surgical instruments and supplies like scalpels and sutures, crucial safety equipment like pulse oximeters, and much more. All of these investments make not only a significant number of incremental surgeries possible, but also make these surgeries safer and of higher quality. Smile Train has played an integral role in developing some of the most cutting-edge advances in cleft care, including the award-winning Virtual Surgery Simulator, which makes complex cleft surgical techniques seem simple to understand, and our Speech Therapy App, which helps children gain confidence in their verbal abilities in their own language. Smile Train's Medical Advisory Board (MAB) is comprised of the best and brightest cleft experts in the world, from maxillofacial surgeons to anesthesiologists to speech pathologists. The MAB compiles information for Smile Train to disseminate in an effort to raise awareness and change public attitudes about clefts. Smile Train is active in launching patient outreach campaigns in an effort to reach patients even in the most remote of areas. These include radio advertisements and programs, fliers, print advertising in local newspapers (with pictures so that even people who are unable to read can be reached), collaborations with other organizations for patient referrals, SMS/text message alerts, and much more. Some of our patients are so malnourished they are not healthy enough to receive surgery. In these cases, they are provided with food for one to two weeks before surgery. We also have patients that are so poor they have no money to get home after surgery. We have special programs that give small stipends to the poorest of the poor that allows them to receive their cleft treatments.

Community Stories

330 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My experiences witnessing the barriers to dental care motivated me to become involved with the organization Smile Train. I have fundraised for treatment for children with clefts and provided literacy to the community about cleft conditions. My involvement with this organization not only fulfilled me deeply, but also gave me a background in oral and maxillofacial terminology while also improving my communication and teamwork skills. This experience will inevitably prepare me for a career as a dentist and help me reduce health-care disparities.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

Excellent organization does a fantastic job helping poor children around the world.

Donor

Rating: 5

This charity is wonderful. It changes the life path of these children. Before the surgery, they are likely to live miserable lives , being ostracized by society, having low self esteem, and filled with self-loathing. After the surgery, the trajectory of their lives changes dramatically. They will fit in with society. They are more likely to have higher self esteem., and the sky is the limit for what they can accomplish. I can't think of any other charity that can have such a marked and positive effect on children' lives. It's incredible!

Donor

Rating: 5

Love this charity. My wife and I have donoted to Smile Train for over 5 years.

Donor

Rating: 5

This is a phenomenal organization! Their work is far reaching and helps children to go on to have normal, productive lives. Their site is easy to navigate of you plan to donate online. They have a lovely DVD about a little girl, Pinkie, who has greatly benefited from their tremendous work. This DVD can be used as a fundraiser for your organization to inspire others, as I did with my 3rd grade class. We smiled when we could help other children to finally SMILE!

Donor

Rating: 5

No greater way to give than to sow a smile into a child's life!

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been donating to Smile Train every year for many years. A smile means everything to a child and with this wondrous surgery, this is a gift of enduring value.

Simon M.1

Donor

Rating: 5

While in the Military I saw first hand how this organization makes an immediate and life changing impact on a child's life. It made me an instant supporter.

1 Kevin D.1

Donor

Rating: 5

Growing up in the privileged US, I saw a friend of mine with a cleft palate be teased for his appearance. In these countries where Smile Train does their great work, these children are too often shunned by society for a physical abnormality. Our donations give these beautiful children a shot at life. I love this charity and their good works.

1 JP C.

Donor

Rating: 5

I have known Susannah for over 35 years, she is a great person and does a tremendous job for the kids helped by Smile Train.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Great charity to help kids. I am glad to donate to help these children. Will one day get rid of impoverishment and its inability to heal and foster goodness.

Wickedness is a problem that we can all take care of by 1 thinking better thoughts and 2 helping others.

Ashley G.1

Donor

Rating: 5

Smile Train is a fantastic organization that aids children from all around the world! I donate whenever I am financially able. Smile Train is great about sending a before/after picture of a child who has been helped through donations. I love keeping these. The photos inspire me to give more and to pray for the children featured in each letter. Smile Train is a great organization which provides free surgeries for children with clefts. If you are looking for an organization to donate to, I would highly recommend this one!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 3

This is simply a wonderful organization that provides life-affirming medical care.

Lloyd N.

Donor

Rating: 5

We have been a donor for many years. They perform a service that is second to none.

Donor

Rating: 5

I watched a video of someone different and my Dad told me about Smile Train and I loved it.

Thank you for helping people that are different.

Love, Ari

Donor

Rating: 5

Smile Train is so easy to use, and despite the fact that I rarely see Smile Train advertising, I am always drawn back to it. Good luck!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I've been doing this for a while because a friend's child was born with a cleft palate. What I like about Smile Train is that I know exactly what my gift is doing. It's a simple thing, but it changes, perhaps even saves, a child's life. It's something that here in Australia, we take for granted - that any child born with a cleft palate will have the necessary corrective surgery. This is not the case in many parts of the world. If my gift can make a difference to child's life, to that child's family, then I've actually done something worthwhile. I will never meet these kids. They will never know who gave money to help them. And that's a good thing, because the message sent is that we don't have to know you to care about you. All we have to know is that they need a little help. I don't care what colour these children are, nor do I care how they worship their God, or if they worship at all. I care that they are given a chance to have a decent life and know that people they will never know cared enough to help.

Robert S.3

Donor

Rating: 5

Great organization that helps a lot of people in need

1

Volunteer

Rating: 2

Smile Train has past due bills that are 2 years past due!!!

Review from Guidestar

Natalie Nimick V.

Donor

Rating: 5

Our true purpose on earth is to love and help one another. Thank you for giving your time, talent, and money to forever forward change the lives of others in such a positive way. May good in the world spread like wildfire that never ends

Donor

Rating: 5

Every Christmas my family buys a smile for someone child in the world. We have been doing it for so many years my children look for the card on our Christmas tree every Christmas morning!