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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 unrepaired clefts live in shame, but more importantly, have difficulty eating, breathing and speaking. Cleft repair surgery is simple, and the transformation is immediate. Our sustainable model provides training and funding to empower local doctors in 85+ developing countries to provide 100%-free cleft repair surgery in their 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 -- that's roughly 350 surgeries a day and 128,000+ every year. 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: 127,000+

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

Programs: Treatment program: free cleft surgeries - while our cost per surgery varies across the 85+ different countries where we have worked, our contribution per surgery can be as low as $250. This amount reflects the contribution per surgery that we provide our partner hospitals. They also cover a significant portion of each surgery as part of our cost-sharing agreement with our medical partners. Free medical equipment & infrastructure support - for many of our partners, access to safe operating rooms is their biggest barrier. Many struggle with old and inadequate equipment such as anesthesia machines and a lack of other equipment and supplies. Smile train provides financial support that has been used for everything from building new operating rooms to crucial safety equipment such as pulse oximeters and cleft surgical instruments and supplies including scalpels and sutures. All of these investments work to provide a significant number of incremental surgeries, but also result in safer and higher quality outcomes for children in need. Free ancillary treatment - every child with cleft needs more than just surgery. Often they also need orthodontic care and speech therapy. Where these services are available, we do everything we can to make them accessible to our patients. We pay for speech therapy sessions, orthodontic work and much more. Financial aid for poor patients - some of our patients are so malnourished they are not healthy enough to be safely operated on and are provided food for one to two weeks before surgery. Some of our patients are so poor they have no money to get to the hospital or to travel home after surgery. Sometimes they have no shoes and no money for food. We have special programs that give small stipends for these poorest of the poor. These expenses exclude $57,036,544 donated time and services from doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists, organizations, companies, other medical professionals and medical facilities and supplies.

public education program: every year, people in developing countries isolate or abandon their newborn babies because they don't know a cleft is a simple birth defect and not a "curse from god. " thousands of children with clefts are never brought to hospitals for treatment because their parents don't know clefts are treatable. Thousands of people in developing countries come to smile train for information on how to find a good cleft team and how to take care of their newborn babies with clefts. Through direct mail, websites, newspapers, radio, tv, public service announcements, documentaries, public relations, social media, etc. , we raise public awareness about clefts in developing countries and in the united states.

training program: smile train provides free training and education to cleft care professionals around the world. Access to education and training opportunities is critical to smile train's mission of empowering local medical teams to provide safe, high-quality cleft care. Over the past 15 years, we have provided support for more than 1,500 medical conferences and training opportunities to improve cleft treatment in the developing world. Smile train supports hands-on and workshop-based training opportunities to improve the skill level of cleft care professionals in the developing world. Recent initiatives have focused on supporting training programs for cleft care nurses and anesthesiologists, including the development of the smile train safe nursing care saves lives program in africa that has now been scaled and implemented for smile train partners around the world. Smile train is innovative in its approach to provide quality training to medical professionals worldwide. In the developing world, surgeons often do not have access to the latest innovative techniques and updated protocols for cleft surgery. Smile train partners have conducted over one million surgeries worldwide and lacking access to such resources can be a barrier to their continuing education and quality improvement. Smile train recognized this problem and since 1999 has distributed free virtual surgery training materials to 40,000+ medical professionals in 149 countries around the world. Smile train took this technology to the next level and recently released the first open-access, web-based, interactive virtual surgery simulator designed to enhance training for surgeons on how to repair clefts. The simulator links state-of-art surgical resources to the most remote parts of the world, and changes the paradigm of surgical training internationally. The simulator was distributed to 1100+ smile train partner surgeons worldwide. Since the launch of the simulator, smile train confirmed users of the system in more than 90 countries around the world, including places where over half the population lives below the poverty level and where the per capital annual income is less than $500 per year. Through this unique approach smile train has leveraged technology to change the course of medical education while also improving the lives of children born with cleft in the developing world.

Community Stories

17 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.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This has been beyond the most amazing Nonprofit organization I have been a part of. They have welcomed me with open arms, in pursuit of working together to help change and impact the lives of all children and parents world wide. This is an organization who is here to serve and bless those less fortunate. The entire team is full of true integrity and I could not be anymore blessed and honored to be a part of such an amazing organization. I would just like to thank the entire team for welcoming me every single time I get a chance to serve with them.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Smile Train deserves the honor of The Best of the Best when it comes to non-profits! I know when I make a donation to Smile Train that tha money is going to change a life forever! Their model uses common sense - train medical staff in their own country and create hospitals that specialize in one life saving surgery.
Smile Train has been one of the favorite non-profits for fund raising for the North Little Rock, Arkansas, Mayor's Youth Council that I direct. The teens have raised money for these surgeries by having bake sales, car washes, garden birthday parties, selling juice and fruit skewers at church, making chocolate covered strawberries for Mother's Day, and hosting smile contests at school.
This year's Volunteer of the Year for the Mayor's Youth Council is starting college this year to study to be a nurse. Her speech at our year-end banquet was about Smile Train. In it she said how wonderful it is to know that somewhere there are children that she will never know and who will never know her, who have a smile that she put on their faces... and that she made a life-changing difference... forever.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Smile Train is a wonderful organization that provides free surgery to children with cleft. Along with my daughter, I participate in fundraising and raising awareness for Smile Train by hosting an annual "Mile For A Smile" walk every October in Ridgefield, CT. For just $250 a child's whole life can be changed with a 45min surgery - the before and after is amazing. My daughter and I appreciate the encouragement of Manager Caitlin Roarke and CEO Susie Schaefer who have a great spirit and are doing inspiring work.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

We have been supporters of The Smile Train foundation for many years. Our experience is always wonderful. It is such an amazing feeling seeing with you own eyes, the community around you rise to the occasion of giving. To help children around the world is a fulfilling feeling that doesn't end with the day of the fundraiser. We are honored to play a part in this generous display of compassion.

Volunteer

Rating: 4

Smile Train is doing a lot for Cleft victims. Its been a pioneering organization who is unconditionally helping them. I have been in touch with Smile Train since 2013, when a cleft girl namely Subhadra of Deogarh, Odisha (India) get cured. It was a dream of that girl and for her poor family, which also brought great happiness in my life. Since then I have become a big fan of Smile Train. Whenever I meet clefts around me, I tell them about smile train and get them connected. There is a need to stretch its branches to get reach of the inaccessible patients who are unaware of its treatment and in blind belief. There is also a need to wake up the local govt administration, health institutions to come forward and actively address this issue. Raising funds for the underprivileged cleft victims is also important. I am looking forward to be recognized volunteer of Smile Train and can actively participate all concerns.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

One of the best nonprofit organizations...
Giving a smile to kids is amazing...

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Smile Train is one of the best charities I have ever been involved with. As a volunteer at many of their events, I have had the chance to interact with the amazing staff who care so much about the organization. This is such an amazing cause and I am proud to be a supporter. They have changed so many lives all over the world!!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I support smile train because they are amazing! Such a selfless organization helping people get corrective surgeries for cleft. 26 years ago I was born with a cleft palate. My family didnt know about smile train but I am sure they would have helped me. I enjoy volunteering in NYC with the great staff. Also the view is breathtaking. :-)
-Tiffany Dawson age 26 NYC

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Amazing work! Smile Train does life changing work that brings joy to so many lives. I am a proud volunteer and I am grateful to work for such a powerful charity.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 4

Last year, I joined smile train as a volunteer and social media ambassador! They are changing so many children's lives and putting smiles on their faces. They always keep you informed about local and worldwide events giving you the opportunity to help in whatever way you're able to. The entire staff is amazing and they're really passionate about the children which makes you care even more! Smile Train gives children the opportunity to be children and not feel different from their peers.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

SmileTrain is a great organization with a great team. I have been associated with them for the last 10 months and have nothing but positive experiences. I have also visited 2 of their offices. They run a lean operation and are serious about making a difference. You are welcome to reach out to me if you have any questions or doubts.

10

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Everyone needs to relax about the salary situation. Ms. Ma makes ~$400K and is the top paid official. Donations increased by over 500% on her watch - I don't know the contribution distribution among each donor level, but even assuming a minimum donation of $50 per person she would have generated an additional $71M which would equate to over 200,000 more surgeries than if someone else had been doing her job and donations stayed static.

So when I see people so outraged that this woman gets paid what she gets paid it's ridiculous. If you want talent you need to pay for it - people that can pull something like that off should get paid well for it - and it doesn't mean they don't care just because they're paid well.

14

Volunteer

Rating: 1

I have been an active supporter but I'am reconsidering! the CEO's excessive salary is way out of line! I will look else where to give it is such a shame I liked the Charity as always some people get greedy and ruin it!

7

Volunteer

Rating: 1

Is smile train aware that someone is calling and not saying anything then hanging up? i am getting these calls once a week and if they dont stop i am going to the better business . the reason i know it s mile train is because i tried calling the numbers back. there is no reason to do this except to give the smile train a bad name. the numbers are 1-866-223-6830 and 1-866-223-7166.

9

Volunteer

Rating: 1

When seeing the solicitation in Boating Magazine I wanted to contribute. I generally give between $100 to $2500 and I contributed to over 30 different orgs last year. I now only give to those that show a very high % to the cause through the internet vrs fund raising and overhead cost. Smile train clearly does not qualify as a honest organization. If they got rid of those NYC apts and high saleries, I would give a minimum of $2500.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Just got done sitting in the hospital here in Brazil with a teenage girl who lives at an orphanage that I volunteer with. She had her cleft palate repaired this weekend, no cost to the non-profit orphanage and was given good care by the smile train staff. Her life will never be the same thanks to operation smile! i am pleased to see their positive impact, way to go!