A Quarter Century of Changing the World One Smile at a Time

Mère souriante avec ses fils et sa fille atteinte d'une fente avant leur opération.

All of our successes since our founding in 1999 stem from two sources: the tireless commitment of donors like you and the world-changing vision of one man: Charles B. Wang.

Decade breakdown of Smile Train's history

The history of Smile Train is, at its core, a story about the power each of us has to change the world.

Let's relive it together.

1999 Charles Founded Smile Train

1999

Charles B. Wang founds Smile Train according to a groundbreaking, sustainable “teach a man to fish” model of empowering community healthcare workers.”

2000: Wang Li

2000

Our first patient, Wang Li, receives the cleft treatment that changes her life forever in Nanjing, China.

2001 STX (Smile Train Express) Launches

2001

Smile Train Express, a revolutionary digital database of our patient, partner, and medical outcomes, launches. It is now the world's largest database of cleft cases.

2002: Smile Train distributes our first virtual surgical training materials

2002

We distribute our first virtual surgical training materials to medical professionals around the world, via CD-ROM.

2003: The Tech Museum of Innovation honors Smile Train with an award

2003

The Tech Museum of Innovation honors us with an award for the way we use technology to promote sustainable cleft care.

2004: Smile Train programs expand to help children in 23 countries

2004

Our programs expand to help children in 23 countries.

2005: Smile Train Indian Medical Advisory Council is established

2005

Our Indian Medical Advisory Council is established, the first of what will become eight regional advisory councils made up of the top local cleft experts in every part of the world.

2006: Smile Train supports the first-ever Pan-African Congress on Cleft Lip and Palate.

2006

We support the first-ever Pan-African Congress on Cleft Lip and Palate.

2007: Smile Train celebrates our 200,000th sponsored cleft surgery!

2007

We celebrate our 200,000th sponsored cleft surgery!

2008: Smile Train distributes our first DVDs for virtually training surgeons

2008

We distribute our first DVDs for virtually training surgeons.

2009: Smile Train's short film “Smile Pinki” wins the Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject

2009

Our short film “Smile Pinki” wins the Oscar® for Best Documentary Short Subject. This real-life fairytale follows six-year-old Pinki Sonkar's journey from her remote village in India to the cleft treatment that will completely transform her life.

2010: Smile Train celebrates World Smile Day® for the first time.

2010

We celebrate World Smile Day® for the first time.

2011: Smile Train programs are featured on the 38th Daytime Emmy® Awards.

2011

Our programs are featured on the 38th Daytime Emmy® Awards

2012: Smile Train awards our first grants to form Smile Train Choirs

2012

We award our first grants to form Smile Train Choirs in Brazil, Ecuador, and Peru. Singing in a choir is proven to help children with clefts build communication skills and confidence and form close friendships with other patients with similar experiences.

2013: Smile Train unveils our revolutionary Virtual Surgery Simulator

2013

We unveil our revolutionary Virtual Surgery Simulator — the world's first free, 3D, open-access, web-based, interactive surgical teaching tool for cleft surgery — at the SXSW® Interactive Festival.

2014: Smile Train sponsors their 1,000,000th cleft surgery, on a child named Osawa in Tanzania.

2014

We sponsor our 1,000,000th cleft surgery, on a child named Osawa in Tanzania.

2015: Our Speech Games and Practice app is released

2015

Our Speech Games and Practice app, delivering free speech therapy activities for children with clefts everywhere on earth, launches in Spanish on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

2016: A landmark peer-reviewed study is produced

2016

A landmark peer-reviewed study demonstrates how one cleft surgery can contribute up to $50,000 to the beneficiary's local economy.

2017: The Cleft Community Advisory Council (CCAC) is established in the US.

2017

The Cleft Community Advisory Council (CCAC) is established in the US. The CCAC is a board of cleft-affected individuals and other members of the cleft community who advise on our marketing materials and advocate for people with clefts at home and abroad, all to help Smile Train ensure every cleft-affected person is treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.

2018: Smile Train proudly launched a five-year partnership with GSK Consumer Healthcare (now Haleon)

2018

We proudly launched a five-year partnership with GSK Consumer Healthcare (now Haleon). Haleon is at the forefront of the fight against everyday oral health problems and, together, we help increase awareness about clefts among consumers and experts and provide vital support in oral health and hygiene for patients in need.

2019: Our “It Starts with a Smile” initiative launches

2019

Our “It Starts with a Smile” initiative launches, bringing attention to the vital importance of non-surgical forms of comprehensive cleft care.

2020: safely sponsor more than 68,000 safe cleft surgeries in 60+ countries from March - December 2020

2020

In the eye of a global pandemic, our model of partnering with local cleft teams around the world allows us to safely sponsor more than 68,000 safe cleft surgeries in 60+ countries from March - December 2020 — many times more than the next closest organization.

2021: Smile Train opens their first seven Cleft Leadership Centers (CLCs) at partner hospitals

2021

We open our first seven Cleft Leadership Centers (CLCs) at partner hospitals in Chile, Brazil, Mexico, India, Ghana, Vietnam, and the Philippines. CLCs serve as regional hubs for cleft treatment, education, training, and research, presenting a holistic, team-centered model of care.

2022: Smile Train jointly publishes the first-ever State of the World's Cleft Care Report

2022

We jointly published the first-ever State of the World's Cleft Care Report with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, validating that nutritional support is vital to every cleft journey

2023: "World's Largest Online Album of Mouths" a GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ title

2023

With 21,328 smiles collected, we officially set the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ title for “World's Largest Online Album of Mouths” on World Smile Day®, alongside our partner Dentsply Sirona

Father and son Alim and Rajib - Smile Train's 2,000,000 and 2,000,001 cleft surgeries.

2024

Father and son Alim and Rajib, from a remote village in Indonesia, receive Smile Train's 2,000,000th — and 2,000,001st — cleft surgeries.