Gateway Mountain Center is a 14-year-old nonprofit headquartered in Truckee, California. Our mission is to transform the lives of youth through high impact, nature-based learning and wellness adventures and innovative and non-traditional therapeutic approaches to mental health and wellness. By reconnecting to self, nature and community, youth of all backgrounds Learn, Heal & Thrive! 

The Need

Stressors of adverse childhood experiences, traumatic exposure, and complex trauma – exacerbated by a pandemic year – have resulted in an alarming increase in anxiety, depression, and youth suicide – especially in communities of color. The recent California Surgeon General’s Report, Roadmap to Resilience, highlights the fact that youth of color are 20%-50% less likely to remain engaged in traditional mental health services. Alternatively, the report suggests that “stress busting” prevention and treatment of serious emotional disturbance and substance use is possible by developing relationships from non-parental adults, physical exercise, and access to nature. This is the essence of Gateway’s work. 

What We Do

We have turned 40 years of elite mountain guiding and youth development into ground-breaking new insights and real accessibility for supporting the health and wellness of families, schools, and communities. Our foundational method for transformation,  embedded in all of our programs, is called Four Roots for Growing a Human.Within this framework, our programs support and engage transformative, life-changing and collaborative experiences for young people and the potential for real change in the delivery of mental health care.

Whole Hearts, Mind and Bodies Therapeutic Mentoring Program 

The WHMB program specifically provides alternative approaches to support youth with a nature-based therapeutic mentoring and clinical services program including 3 to 4 hour-long one-on-one outdoor sessions each week, with elements of carefully supported fun, physical challenges, reflection and mindfulness activities. These consistent, collaborative, and caring relationships with a supportive non-parental adult allow young people to build skills and learn emotional regulation while living at home, staying in school, and remaining in their community. We support young people regardless of their financial circumstances and are deeply committed to health equity and cultural competence. Currently 43% of Gateway’s caseload are Latinx youth; special care is taken to hire Latinx therapeutic mentors and case managers who can provide a positive, trusting experience. 


Over the past years, in our combined programming, we have served over 20,000 youth, and now support over 2,000 youth annually, many of whom are from extremely under-resourced communities. Initial analysis of compiled Youth Outcomes Questionnaire – Self Report (YOQ-SR) indicates that the WHMB Therapeutic Mentoring Program reduces symptomatic distress in an individual’s life by an average of 30.4%. Moving forward, we intend to scale this approach to Reno, Sacramento, Oakland, and San Mateo and also will explore licensing this method and service delivery system to large healthcare organizations such as Sutter Health, and Kaiser.