Play - Learn - Thrive

aka WWO   |   New York, NY   |


WWO helps transform the lives of vulnerable children, families, and communities through trauma-informed, evidence-based programming. We work to address the unique needs and strengths of children, families and communities in each country, adapting our early childhood education, skills development, and camp programs, to meet their identified needs.

Ruling year info


Executive Director

Claudia Fleming

Main address

244 Fifth Avenue Suite K298

New York, NY 10001 USA

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NTEE code info

Children's and Youth Services (P30)

Health Support Services (E60)

AIDS (G81)

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

WWO is working to address a child’s need for attachment and bonding in the early years and a young child’s need to learn and explore their environment through play. WWO works with children and families who may be vulnerable for any number of reasons. Recognizing the adverse impact of trauma on developmental outcomes and children's wellbeing, WWO addresses the complex and often interlinked factors – such as poverty, family breakdown, disability, inflexible child welfare systems and lack of alternatives to residential care – that are the underlying reasons for a break in relationship between a child and loving adult, and partners with government and civil society organizations to ensure these children have access to quality early childhood programming and the adults have access to skills development.

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?

Element of Play® and Element of Play® at Home Programs

WWO works with communities to ensure children are protected and engaged. Through our trauma informed, evidence based Element of Play® program, children are introduced to safe and structured learning through play methodology that builds their social and executive function skills. WWO ensures children are seen, connected to the community, and therefore can be protected. When children have access to quality early learning activities and feel safe and connected, these activities have the power to mitigate the negative effects of poverty, toxic stress, and trauma on their early childhood development.

Population(s) Served
At-risk youth

In partnership with SeriousFun Children’s Network, WWO runs camp programs in Ethiopia, Haiti, and Vietnam for children with serious illnesses. Our local teams conduct camps in collaboration with health care providers in local hospitals. WWO’s professional staff adheres to the stringent guidelines of SeriousFun. In addition to residential programs, WWO conducts regular follow-up appointments throughout the year, as well as family weekends to increase the long-term impact of the camp experience. In 2020, we created a virtual camp program and distributed hundreds of Camp at Home program kits to youth through local hospitals, thus strengthening the relationship between healthcare providers and campers while leveraging the positive health messages from camp.

Population(s) Served
At-risk youth
People with HIV/AIDS

Science tells us it is never too late to help youth and young adults build up their capabilities. When they have opportunities to build the core skills needed to be productive participants in their communities, the next generation of citizens, workers, and parents will thrive. Our Positive Youth Development training sessions address self-care and daily activities, community, housing and personal budgeting, education, career orientation, and vocational training, communications and social relations, job search training, and family building.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

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 groups/individuals benefiting from tools/resources/education materials provided

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Element of Play® and Element of Play® at Home Programs

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Context Notes

The combined total number of beneficiaries in Bulgaria, Ethiopia, Haiti, The Bronx, Ukraine & Vietnam. WWO works with children/youth, their families or caregivers, and partner staff.

Number of clients reporting increased knowledge after educational programs

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success


Context Notes

The number of children participating in WWO’s early childhood development program -Element of Play and the number of adults self-reporting an increase in knowledge after attending training sessions.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

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.

WWO aims to:

-Increase in the number of children entering first grade with the skills they need to thrive in school.

-Work with youth and adults to improve cognitive skills that lead to a better understanding of early childhood development, an ability to learn from experiences and apply these lessons in positive ways for the next generation.

-Work with youth and adults to improve social-emotional skills including positive youth development and healthy peer relationships.

-Increase technical skills within the field of early childhood development for teachers, parents, partners who work with children living in institutional care, volunteers working in community-based interventions and any others interested.

We work in conjunction with 104 collaborative partners to identify local needs. Then we work together to adapt and deliver our evidence-based early childhood education program, Element of Play®, youth development, and camp programs that address developmental delays caused by trauma. Our programs provide psychological, social, educational, and cognitive tools that break down social stigma and build critical life skills. Children who learn to overcome challenges make tremendous progress in becoming strong, successful adults.

WWO employs local leaders to manage our international programs. We believe that the best response to poverty and vulnerability is a locally sustainable and culturally relevant approach.

WWO uses play as a strategy for program delivery. Play is a right of all children and many adults never had their own chance to play when they were children. Learning, growth and relationship happen through play and laughter.

WWO works through partnerships, understanding that one person or one organization can not solve all the problems of one family or community.

WWO partners with government, other non-profit and community-based organizations to ensure a holistic response within each country's programs.

WWO seeks to empower youth and adults to become the positive change in a child’s life through training and skills development.

WWO has longstanding relationships and quality team of local staff in each of the countries where we work.

WWO continues to learn and grow through program monitoring and evaluation, adapting our work to emerging needs and scaling those programs that are evidence-based and having a positive impact.

WWO has worked with more than 200,000 vulnerable children and their caregivers in 19 countries over the past 26 years. WWO works with communities across the globe to deliver innovative programs that help vulnerable children thrive. Today, we have operating teams in Bulgaria, Ethiopia, Haiti, The Bronx, Ukraine, and Vietnam, focused on children and families who are experiencing poverty, housing instability, food insecurity, natural disasters, war, illness. Our innovative programming breaks down social stigma while building critical life skills for children,
WWO has made extraordinary contributions toward alleviating human suffering within orphanages, for children and adults living with HIV/AIDS, and for those living in extreme poverty.

In the late 1990’s, WWO made extraordinary advances toward improving the care of children living in orphanages in Eastern Europe and Russia. This was the beginning of an important journey to bring awareness to the global orphan crisis, to change the paradigm of care for institutionalized children, and to build an effective and efficient organization with sustainable, replicable results.

WWO began its work in Bulgaria in 2004 by empowering more than 100 retired women from nearby communities (affectionately referred to as grannies) with a greater understanding of early childhood development, an awareness of the importance of attachment for young children, and by providing scientifically curated toys within WWO’s Toy Library. In partnership with 14 orphanage directors and municipal-level government, grannies were invited into the orphanages and began playing on a one-to-one basis with more than 3,000 young children over the years. This had an incredible and powerful impact on the lives of each child touched, offering much-needed stimulation, love, and attention.

By 2011, with advances in the science of early brain development, research from the Adverse Childhood Experiences studies (ACEs) and lessons learned from the previous 14 years, WWO consolidated its efforts under one innovative program design called Element of Play®.

By bringing lessons learned and best practices together from their work in over 30 orphanages within Bulgaria, Vietnam, and Ethiopia, WWO created an innovative and scalable model to address gaps in adult’s understanding of how children think and feel (training for caregivers, teachers, youth) and overcome barriers to the provision of quality early intervention services through WWO’s Toy Library, music programs, intentional art activities, and story-telling. This approach, based on a bioecological theory of development, supports more than the immediate needs of children, it also addresses the systemic strengths and challenges facing children within their families, communities, and society.

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 shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • 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 make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • 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 engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We ask the people who gave us feedback how well they think we responded

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    The people we serve tell us they find data collection burdensome, It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection



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


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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Connect with nonprofit leaders


Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

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

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.


Board of directors
as of 08/30/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Susan Neisloss

Big Bite Productions

Term: 2021 - 2024

Board co-chair

Terri Becks

Big Bite, Inc., Founder and CEO

Term: 2014 -

Misha Rubin

The Career Leap, CEO

Ali Wing

Bright, Chief Consumer Officer

Mandy Edmund

Swing, Co-Founder / COO

Terri Becks

Campbell & Company, Former President & CEO

Natalie Troubh

Badger & Winters, Managing Director

Nathan Jerome

McPherson Family Foundation, Managing Director

Maya Samadani

International Rescue Committee, Senior Director, Talent Management

Nina McElroy

Bank of America, Managing Director & Private Client Advisor

Coco Sellman

Founder & CEO Allume Home Care

Meg Bode

CEO Talking Hedge Events

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 1/26/2023

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or straight
Disability status
Decline to state

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity


Sexual orientation


No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 08/29/2023

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.