Kids Helping Kids was founded in 2002 by one of the San Marcos High School AP Economics classes. Its vision came from teacher Jamie Devries, who wanted to change the stagnant atmosphere of the AP Economics curriculum and give the students a real world application to the principles they learn in class. The organization's first project was a penny drive, enlisting the help of local grade schools and high schools. From there, Kids Helping Kids students hosted a benefit night and silent auction at Santa Barbara's Ruby's Diner, where a portion of each dinner was donated to Kids Helping Kids. Through money raised from food sales, the silent auction, and donations, Kids Helping Kids was able to raise $8,000 for the 2003 year. This money was donated directly to the Santa Barbara Unity Shoppe, a public benefit corporation encouraging self-sufficiency and independence through education and basic necessities. Since then, Kids Helping Kids has grown exponentially; each year, the students have been building off of the accomplishments, both financial and organizational, of the prior class.