We're not just teaching children to read. We're building a foundation for a brighter future.

Our Origin Story

Sharpen's journey began in 2019 when a group of passionate parents, educators, and researchers came together with a common goal: to give families new ways to identify reading challenges earlier than ever before and provide them with more equitable and affordable access to learning solutions. At the heart of our mission is our belief that all children deserve the opportunity to learn to read and that the predominant wait-to-fail model in the U.S. could be turned on its head.  Research shows that the vast majority of kids can learn to read if given great instruction aligned with the Science of Reading early.  We set about building a digital education platform that empowers parents to provide support at every stage of their child’s literacy journey.

Evidence Drives Everything We Do

Sharpen collaborates with world-class research universities including Yale University, University of Texas at Houston Health Center, and Brock University, to harness the highest quality research-driven learning solutions available.

Building Success Through Early Literacy

Research shows that identifying reading challenges early matters. Early awareness and early intervention leads to the best lifelong outcomes for children. That’s why we've developed a comprehensive early assessment and digitized a proven, high-outcome reading program fully aligned with the Science of Reading.  Sharpen Reading is specifically designed to empower parents and tutors to teach to mastery and efficiently move kids to grade-level reading and beyond.

Empowering Parents, Guiding Futures

Our dedication to empower parents is at the core of what we do. Today, Sharpen supports parents in assessing and enhancing their child's literacy amidst limited school resources and potential reading delays, propelling them to a reading grade level and beyond. Through fully scripted and perfectly sequenced lessons that anyone can deliver after modest in-platform training, Sharpen partners with families to solve the reading crisis.  

Meet the Experts

At Sharpen, we're more than just a company; we're a community of parents, educators, and researchers committed to unlocking the full potential of every child. We understand the challenges families face, and we're here to walk this path with you, offering unwavering support and expertise every step of the way.

Together, we'll inspire a love for reading and set the stage for a brighter future.

Dr. Michael Bend Ph.D.

✏️ Educator & Reading Expert
📖 Author -   ABeCeDarian Reading Program
☀️ Transforming lives one word at a time  

Dr. Michael Bend's passion for education has led him to create the research-based, explicit, comprehensive, and multi-sensory decoding and word study program that is the foundation for Sharpen Reading.

Dr. Bend earned his doctorate from the University of Delaware. He has worked with struggling readers for over 40 years in a variety of settings, including as a classroom teacher and as the director of education programs at several non-profits. He has also tutored hundreds of children and coached many parents and teachers. 

He has received training in the Lindamood curriculum as well as Phono-Graphix and has studied many other reading programs, including Reading Mastery and Orton-based programs, and has been greatly influenced by the work of David Kilpatrick. 

When Dr. Bend isn't busy transforming the world of education, you can find him mentoring aspiring educators and continuously exploring innovative ways to make learning accessible and engaging for all.

Dr. Jan C. Frijters, Ph.D.

🧠 Chief Neuropsychologist
🧬 Genetics & Neuro Research
🎓 Brock University Professor

Dr. Jan C. Frijters, a respected academic and Professor at Brock University, serves as Associate Editor for the Journal of Learning Disabilities, an Editorial Board member for the Journal of Educational Psychology, and sits as the Chief Neuropsychologist at Sharpen. With a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of Guelph, his research focuses on critical aspects of child development, evidence-based reading interventions, and risk assessments.

Focusing his work on research that targets the accurate and early identification of children in need of reading assistance, Jan works to ensure that children most at-risk receive developmentally sensitive and effective interventions. His relentless efforts and in-depth expertise make a significant impact in the field of educational psychology.

When Dr. Frijters isn't busy transforming the world of targeted interventions, you can find him sharing his insights at conferences, mentoring aspiring educators, and continuously exploring innovative ways to make learning accessible and engaging for all.

Dr. Prarthana Franklin-Luther, Ph.D.

🔬 Senior Research Scientist
👧 Parenting, Child Development & Family Research  

Dr. Prarthana Franklin-Luther is a scholar and researcher with over 20 peer-reviewed publications in the areas of parenting, child health, and developmental outcomes. She received her Ph.D. in Child and Youth Studies from Brock University and then completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship at McMaster University, where she researched cognitive, behavioral, and social outcomes of preterm-born children. Dr. Franklin-Luther has presented her research findings at various conferences and has been cited in media outlets like CBC.ca. Clinically, she has worked as a psychometrist and psycho-educational evaluator for several years, applying her academic insights in a practical context.

When Dr. Franklin-Luther isn't busy transforming the world of education and children’s development, she can be spotted exploring nature trails, accompanied by her husband and their beloved dog, Layla.

Patrick Heenan

✏️ 20+ Years in Education
🎓 MS in Elem. Ed., K-6 Certified
🤝 Yale Collaboration

Patrick Heenan is a twenty-year educator. He holds an MS in Elementary Education with a K - 6 certification. Patrick is also certified in Reading Recovery, Empower Phonics / Empower Comprehension, and received training in Orton-Gillingham and Wilson. 

Patrick has twelve years of experience as a classroom teacher; having taught 1st - 4th grade. Patrick worked for five years as an Intervention Specialist within New Haven Public Schools. This grant-funded position was part of a collaboration with Yale University’s New Haven Lexinome Project. During this time he was immersed in Structured Literacy and Evidence-Based reading practices. Patrick spent his final two years in public school working as a Literacy Instructional Coach.

Patrick trained under Dr. Michael Bend in the ABeCeDarian Reading Program then joined Sharpen full-time to focus all his attention on identification and remediation of reading difficulties.

When Patrick isn't busy transforming the world of education,  you can find him at the beach with his family, or building furniture in his garage woodworking shop.