Closing the gap on communal dissonance.

Photo of Adam Nicholson
17 12

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Eligibility: Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?

  • No

Eligibility: Date of Birth

Sept. '95 & Nov. '95

Where are you located:

Lakewood, CO, 80232

Website or social media url(s) (optional):

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.

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?

  • White (for example: German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, French) (6)

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?

  • No, I do not identify with an underrepresented community

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Social media
  • Recommended by others

Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka or T-Mobile, who was it?

Ezra Bram

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

Photo of Claire Fallender

Great ideas, Nick and Ezra. Your insight about not needing to fly to another continent to make change is hugely important. People don't often see how much they can do in their own towns and neighborhoods. It will be great to see how Catalyst can provide the connections for local organizations and local changemakers to interact and support one another. You mentioned already being in touch with some local social change organizations. It would be great to bring them in early on. As you develop your business model, maybe there are ways to incorporate more marginalized or excluded groups into the design and benefits of the model.

Photo of Tony

Hi Adam and Ezra,

Wonderful job thus far! A cafe/taphouse has incredible power as a physical place for people to come together and exchange ideas. Breaktime, a project I am working on ( also utilizes cafes to initiate local change. I would love to collaborate in the future and/or discuss how Catalyst could engage traditionally marginalized communities.

All the best and looking forward to seeing your progress,

Photo of Adam Nicholson

Holy smokes Tony!

You guys are doing it! I am psyched for you! I would absolutely love to talk more about what you guys are doing and your business plan. Ezra and I are looking at a time frame slightly behind you guys, hopefully we can learn from what you are working on.

Thank you for the encouragement, we are both really excited for the direction that it's going so far.
- Adam

Photo of Elizabeth

This is a really cool idea, and I think it's a smart way to start conversation and spark interest among a creative group of people. Spreading awareness about issues is essential to tackling them--it's absolutely necessary, and I feel it's a crucial first step that often is (unfortunately) overlooked. My suggestion is to include more simple ways for people/organizations to get involved right at Catalyst--for example, donation boxes (not just for monetary donations, but canned food, clothing/shoes, period products, etc.). In my experience with trying to engage my community with social issues, people do want to get involved, but don't always know exactly how. I think Catalyst would be a wonderful way to not only get the community talking about issues that must be addressed, but to show people how they can help--and how (like you mentioned) helping doesn't always have to be extravagant and expensive. This is such a neat idea! Keep up the great work!

Photo of Adam Nicholson

Thank you Elizabeth! If you are ever off the island and in Denver, you know where to find us. Ezra and I would love to talk about Catalyst, as well as The Free Period Project . Looks like you found a niche that needs to be remedied. Keep at it!
- Adam

Photo of Mason Brozovich

As someone who has called Lakewood home for 23 years, I think this would be great for the community of Lakewood and the greater Denver area. Lakewood is in need of a space like this - a place that provides the space and context to have conversations, network, create, and build community around bringing change to the community of Lakewood, Denver, and all over the world. Not to mention Lakewoodites do indeed love their coffee and beer - count me in. Best of luck to you guys!

Photo of Adam Nicholson

Thanks for the feedback Mason Brozovich . Ezra and I will keep you in the loop in regards to our progress.
- Adam

Photo of Riya Krishnan

Adam Nicholson Ezra Bram  I love the vision driving Catalyst! I think your idea is great in that it strives to create a thriving community by connecting ALL of its key players. At Wavve , we also strive to foster innovation among Gen Z but virtually, but I like the idea of putting a physical space to it.
Best of luck with this, I’m excited to see how it evolves, and will keep you in mind if I’m ever in Denver :)

Photo of Adam Nicholson

Riya Krishnan Thanks for the support, it seems like Wavve and CATALYST COFFEE AND TAPHOUSE have a few visions that intersect. If you guys want to collaborate more on our projects further into the process, let us know. Keep up the great work.
- Adam & Ezra Bram 

Photo of Haley Miller

I think this is such a cool idea! I would love to see how this progresses in the future!

Photo of Adam Nicholson

Thank you Haley. Stay tuned in to Denver over the next few year. We are working toward it becoming a reality.
- Adam

Photo of Ali Young

I love everything that Catalyst stands for! Denver is unknowingly craving a space that fits these exact needs. The reality of this idea will have a ripple impact not only in the local community - but worldwide! I am so excited to see how far this goes!!

Photo of Ezra Bram

Thanks, Ali! I think you hit the nail right on the head. We certainly need people like you on board with us to start shaping the Catalyst Community. Taking Catalyst into other cities is a dream of ours, too! Thanks for your support!
- Adam Nicholson & Ezra

Photo of Natalie Laky

This is super interesting! I've never thought about communal dissonance before, but you're completely right in that it is a pressing problem in many communities, especially across America. I'm excited to see what you can do with this idea!

Photo of Adam Nicholson

Thanks for the encouragement Natalie Laky ! It's awesome to see that others recognize the same issue! We would love to collaborate with you and your community in any way we can.
-Adam & Ezra