Closing the gap on communal dissonance.

Photo of Adam Nicholson
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Date Started

Jan. 2018

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Idea (hoping to get started in the future)

1. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project? NOTE: All applications must include a 1 minute video that answers: “I am stepping up to make change because..."

Upon returning from large, impactful trips aiding severe poverty thousands of miles away, looks of eager aspiration filled people’s eyes as the story is told. This ill-perceived notion that we made an impact far greater than they ever could coats every word from their mouth. During these interactions, we not only realized that you don't have to spend $3000 to fly across the world in order to make a change, but that you can have an equal, if not greater, impact with a fraction of the cost, time, and energy in your very own communities. Catalyst Coffee and Taphouse is the helping hand that exposes and connects people to reality, projects, and opportunities right at their doorstep. Catalyst is aptly named, for it is a platform that turbocharges creativity, welcomes community, and motivates neighboring people to flourish together---all offering the best coffee and craft beer in Lakewood.

2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Lakewood is in dire need of a space that has a vision behind it. People have skills and passion, but no objective to push toward. The city is largely fragmented and disconnected from the realities of their neighborhoods and Denver proper. There is no accommodating workspace open past 9pm especially one that involves innovation and collaboration. The Lakewood community is teeming with potential. The problem exists because Catalyst doesn’t.

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

We see Catalyst Coffee and Taphouse as the face of positive change that stands on the forefront of problems, issues, and harsh realities in greater Denver and beyond. By welcoming these realities, stories, and experiences into Lakewood, Catalyst aspires to mold a community that encourages conversations and connections with the poor, oppressed, and displaced people in their own city in formative and sustainable ways. Currently, no such stimulant exists in Lakewood. * For more information on our solution, see attachment.

4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

Average Joe walks into Catalyst Coffee and Taphouse, warmly welcomed by our staff and atmosphere. On his left, Joe sees photos of refugees, local art, and storyboards full of bright smiles. Intrigue colors his face, as he approaches the counter and asks the barista how Catalyst is involved. The barista passionately replies with personal stories of a recent Myanmar trip where he aided Rohingya Refugees. He goes on to explain how Catalyst has partnered with dozens of local and national organizations striving to do the same. Upon finishing Joe’s order, the barista mentions how tips at Catalyst fund future trips and outreach events. After contributing an easy 15%, Joe takes a seat. While overhearing a diverse group of people fervently sharing ideas, Joe is inspired to ponder what he can do. Joe heads home with a new passion to join the thriving Catalyst community--the Lakewood community.

5. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

Catalyst Coffee and Taphouse is not trying to be the biggest and best humanitarian aid in Denver; we are trying to connect the biggest and best ideas to local, diverse communities that can work together towards bigger and better solutions. Currently, there are so many organizations that are doing the same thing because none of them are working together. We believe that people working together can achieve more. We’re trying to be the best at coffee and beer, while bringing the rest together. We’re all striving to aid humanity; Catalyst is the space where we intersect and strive together.

6. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

To date, Catalyst is still in the beginning stages of planning and brainstorming. We believe that to be successful in our mission, we need to be successful with our coffee and beer sales. If we are interesting people with our product, they will come and engage with all areas of our space. It will be relatively easy to track our impact through hours volunteered, profitability, community engagement at events, vocational training classes attended, and feedback from employees and customers. Participation, big or small, is a positive difference for Catalyst.

7. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

The first step is to continue discussing our vision and its potential with friends and family. Brainstorming together, we have already come up with a few of the next tangible steps to put our plan into action: Find a building in north Lakewood that will have 2 to 4 thousand sq/ft of event and work space. Renovate space to be clean and modular. Obtain food, liquor, Lakewood business, and Colorado tax licenses. Hire a dedicated team of coffee lovers, beer fanatics, and passionate people for community and humanity involvement. Create a social media marketing presence and website. Finish a more in depth business plan including comprehensive financial plan and marketing plan. Partner with local organizations in Denver.

8. Future Support: What are the resources needed to make your vision a reality?

Catalyst Coffee and Taphouse will never become a reality if people don’t partner with us. After-all, we are an entity striving for courageous community, connection, and creativity. We need partners that believe in our vision and are willing join us through any support possible, whether that is financial, relational, emotional, and/or time. We are depending on the cooperation of our people to create the beginning of the Catalyst community. For us, taking Catalyst to the next level means bringing it into existence. That’s why the resources we need are listed in question 7. Community and partnership is so vital to Catalyst’s framework, and we have already begun to dialogue with local organizations, sponsors, and potential team members.

9. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support
  • Mentors/advisors

10. Ripple Effect: Please share some ideas of how you could partner with other changemakers or involve other young people as leaders in making a difference.

The subject of this question is the main proponent of Catalyst. We’ve been engaging with our personal communities and have had astoundingly positive feedback as other recognize the potential we are addressing. Adam has a great network of business mentors through the university that he seeking guidance under while Ezra has traveled nationally and created a large network of outward minded people. Partnering with other changemakers and involving young leaders is a foundational objective of Catalyst. Like we said at the beginning, Catalyst is exactly what is sounds like--it is a platform to turbocharge creativity, a space that welcomes community, and a motivator to let people who live next to each other flourish together.

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Social media
  • Recommended by others

Evaluation results

8 evaluations so far

1. Overall evaluation

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 0%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 62.5%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 25%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 12.5%

1 - It didn’t make my heart beat faster. - 0%

2. Changemaker Quality

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 37.5%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 25%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 12.5%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 25%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

3. Creativity

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 37.5%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 37.5%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 25%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer - 0%

4. Commitment

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 66.7%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 100%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 100%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 33.3%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer - 0%

5. Connection

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 37.5%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 50%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 12.5%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer or No Connection - 0%

Attachments (1)


A basic business plan/vision plan.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Tyler Vogel

What a great idea! As a graduate student working in international development (and a huge craft beer fan), I think this is a fantastic model that could really help Catalyze change at the community level! Curious if you know about Posner Center for International Development in Denver. I was able to participate in their Poverty Hack in 2016 - very great place that would be an ideal partner for you! Thank you for sharing (beer cheers emoji)!

Photo of Adam Nicholson

Thanks for the feedback Tyler. Ezra and I will look into Posner Center as a potential partner (beer cheers)

- Adam

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