Smile Train, Inc.

Changing the world one smile at a time

aka Smile Train   |   New York, NY   |


Smile Train is an international children’s charity with a sustainable approach to a single, solvable problem: cleft lip and palate. Smile Train empowers local medical professionals with training, funding, and resources to provide free cleft surgery and comprehensive cleft care to children globally. We advance a sustainable solution and scalable global health model for cleft treatment, drastically improving children’s lives, including their ability to eat, breathe, speak, and ultimately thrive. Seeing the flaws in mission-trip-based models, we were the first cleft organization with a model of true sustainability. Since 1999, we have supported quality cleft care for 1.5+ million children and will continue to do so until every child in need with a cleft has access to the care they deserve.

Ruling year info


Executive Vice Chair, President & Chief Executive Officer

Ms. Susannah Schaefer

Main address

633 Third Ave 9th Floor

New York, NY 10017 USA

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NTEE code info

Children's and Youth Services (P30)

Birth Defects (G20)

International Development, Relief Services (Q30)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Many children around the world are living with untreated clefts. Most have difficulties eating, breathing, hearing, and speaking.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Cleft surgery and comprehensive cleft care

Clefts can involve the lip and/or palate and occur when certain body parts do not fuse during pregnancy. They are one of the most common birth differences, affecting about 1 in every 700 newborns globally.
Cleft lips can be seen on an ultrasound as early as the 13th week of pregnancy, but cleft palates are much harder to detect. Whether the cleft is found in utero or at birth, the family should immediately be referred to an experienced cleft team.

While clefts are often caused by a combination of environmental factors and genetics, the exact cause is not known in most cases. It is never one parent or the child’s fault.

Cleft surgery has greatly evolved over more than half a century. Most experts agree that cleft lips should be treated within a child’s first three to six months, while cleft palates should be operated on between eight and 12 months. Most cleft-affected children will undergo a series of surgeries and other essential treatments over their first 20 years.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Economically disadvantaged people

Where we work


Best Documentary Short - Smile Pinki 2009

Academy Award

Best Nonprofit Website 2012

Interactive Media Awards

Gold Panda Award - Dzachuka’s Smile 2013

Sichuan TV Festival

Outstanding Achievement in Modeling & Simulation - Smile Train Virtual Surgery Simulator 2013

National Training Simulation Association

Affiliations & memberships

Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance - Organization 2011

Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance - Organization 2014

Guidestar Platinum Seal of Transparency 2020

Great Nonprofits Top-Rated 2021

Charity Navigator 100 Rating 2021

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of Smile Train partner hospitals

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Infants and toddlers, Economically disadvantaged people, People with physical disabilities

Related Program

Cleft surgery and comprehensive cleft care

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

- Advocating for governments to take appropriate action to prioritize cleft care
- Expanding comprehensive cleft care and partner capacity while ensuring rigorous safety standards
- Using our data to innovate, build systems, and maximize impact

- Ensuring access to safe, high-quality comprehensive cleft care through our proven, sustainable partnership model
- Strengthening local health systems through investment, resources, and building the capacity of local medical professionals
- Driving innovation by leveraging technology and research to transform global cleft care
- Fostering a global cleft community through awareness and education to reduce stigma and ensure acceptance of people with clefts

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 symposia 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 not only make a significant number of incremental surgeries possible, but also make each one safer and of higher quality.

Smile Train has sponsored more than 1,500,000 free cleft surgeries for children in low- and middle-income countries since our founding in 1999. Our network of 1,100+ partner hospitals and 2,100+ partner surgeons has helped children in more than 90 countries.

When Smile Train was founded we were only able to offer the initial surgery, but as we have expanded and our resources have grown, we are now very happy to be able to enable not only free follow-up surgeries, but also lifesaving nutritional support, orthodontics, speech therapy, psychosocial counseling, and many other vital, comprehensive cleft care programs at an ever-increasing number of our partner hospitals.

The advantages of our model were made clear during the COVID-19 pandemic. While mission-trip-based INGOs had to cease operations in March 2020, between that month and June 2022, we sponsored more than 186,000 life-changing cleft surgeries in 75 countries (77% of our pre-pandemic capacity), donated more than $3M in PPE to our local medical partners, and reached 31,000+ healthcare professionals around the world with both in-person and virtual education and training programs, among many other accomplishments.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    We primarily serve people with clefts in low- and middle-income countries and their families. We also train medical professionals in cleft care across disciplines.

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Constituent (client or resident, etc.) advisory committees,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    We used to send various surveys to our medical partners throughout each year. Many recently informed us that the administrative burden of completing the surveys in a timely manner was higher than their staff could easily accommodate, so we combined them into two more streamlined surveys that gather the same information at two clearly defined periods each year. Our partners have responded positively to this change, and survey completion has increased since we made it, allowing us to be better aware of our partners' needs and respond to them more nimbly.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders,

  • How has asking for feedback from the people you serve changed your relationship?

    Smile Train's model puts power over the most important decisions in global cleft care squarely where they belong--in the hands of local experts. We understand that we have the funding and the resources and our partners have the skills and the experience, which means we can only make an impact that is sustainable, effective, and efficient for our patients by working together. We are always adapting our grantmaking and training programs based on partner feedback. In fact, we work in so many countries and within so many different cultural, economic, and social realities that giving our 1,200+ local partners scattered over 70+ countries broad discretion over the resources we provide is what makes our joint efforts to save lives and strengthen global healthcare systems even possible.

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, We don’t have the right technology to collect and aggregate feedback efficiently, The people we serve tell us they find data collection burdensome,


Smile Train, Inc.

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


Connect with nonprofit leaders


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Smile Train, Inc.

Board of directors
as of 11/15/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mr. Roy Reichbach

Robert Bell

Finance Chair, Charles B. Wang Community Health Center, Inc.

Susannah Schaefer

Executive Vice Chair, President & Chief Executive Officer, Smile Train

Arthur McCarthy

Treasurer; Alternate Governor, New York Islanders

Ed Goren

Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Goren Media Group

Richard Ruderman

President & CEO, Krieger Ruderman & Co., LLC

Roy Reichbach

Board Chair; CEO, Phenix Real-Time Solutions, Inc.

Mathias Kiwanuka

CEO, Wandering Wines

Crystle Stewart

President, Miss USA Organization

Paula Shugart

President, Miss Universe Organization

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 9/21/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data


No data

Sexual orientation

No data


No data