Padre Umile founded the Sorriso Francescano in Genoa in 1946 with the aim of "providing Christian education and assistance to children of both sexes who lacked family support and education", by establishing two complexes for immediate care services for minors. In 1957, Father Dionisio Mazzucco did the same in La Spezia by founding Casa del Fanciullo.
Today, the Sorriso Francescano presents itself as a socio-educational welfare organization that addresses the plight of disadvantaged children, also serving migrants, at its locations in Genoa and La Spezia.
On February 9, 1969, Father Umile from Genoa passed away. From 1969 to 1999, Father Vittorio Bonicelli served as the Director and Legal Representative of the Sorriso Francescano. From 1999 to 2018, Father Giampiero Gambaro held the position. Since April 16, 2018, Father Francesco Rossi has been the Director and Legal Representative, with Father Biju James serving as Vice Director and Spiritual Father. With the start of his tenure, Father Giampiero recognized the need to align the organization with the new, growing, and diverse social needs brought about by globalization. This led to a comprehensive modernization of both infrastructure and educational aspects, including a radical refurbishment of institutional buildings and educational teams. This transformation enabled the Foundation to establish and manage various targeted services based on age groups and the classification of needs, in accordance with the new legislative requirements for social assistance.
In 2004, as part of the rehabilitation process, an "engagement agreement" was established with the Municipality of Genoa, which codified and regulated the collaboration between the Franciscan Smile and the municipality for the day and residential care of minors referred by the municipality itself. Over the years, increasing difficulties encountered in managing some of the aforementioned facilities due to rising operational costs, tax pressure, and particularly inadequate response from the educational staff, burdened the organization and made it impossible to continue autonomously and individually. A thorough market search led to the identification of the Consortium of Social Cooperatives "Obiettivo Sociale" (OSO) in Alba (CN), which has been active in a significant part of the national territory for several years, characterized by a strong spirit of innovation and alternative approaches compared to typical professional dynamics in our area. A strong alignment of intentions and proven ideological and operational affinity was established. An agreement between the parties was reached in 2014, based on a lease contract for the organized exercise of non-profit activities.
Today, the Religious Foundation SORRISO FRANCESCANO operates in the Ligurian region with its historical locations in Genoa and La Spezia.
The purpose and mission of the Sorriso Francescano is to "comprehensively assist and educate all the minors who are welcomed into the Sorriso Francescano communities", providing them with the opportunity for holistic personal growth, alleviating the causes of social and familial distress, and promoting their proper integration into their original family, local community, and the workforce.