SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The Advanced Placement Economics students at San Marcos High School have hit the ground running with the student-run non-profit.
The students in Kids Helping Kids have a goal of raising $225,000 this school year and they're already off to a good start with a big check from State Farm Insurance.
School is back in session but the executive board of Kids Helping Kids has been busy all summer.
"We're just empowered kids that want to make a difference from the classroom to the community," said Carter Hudson.
Hudson is this year's chief executive officer. He and the rest of the student leaders have one big accomplishment crossed off their list.
"The grant was for $78,400," said Jamie DeVries, the San Marcos economics teachers.
The students applied for the grant from State Farm and got it. The money can now help spread Kids Helping Kids beyond the walls of their own school.
"We're so honored that State Farm was able to recognize us a a worthy model to spread nationally because we're just kids," said Estefania Contreras, the chief operating officer.
The class is more than just textbooks and although the students are just 17-and 18-year-olds, they raise money for worthy causes.
"It's not just to get a good grade on homework, it's to make little Bianca's life better in the trash dumps of Nicaragua or to improve the lives of the kids over at the village on the west side of our own town. It give us purpose and direction and we enjoy doing it," said Hudson.
The students book some big headliners for their yearly fundraising concert at the Granada Theater in Santa Barbara.
"We have Five for Fighting, who played at the Granada, Matt Kearny and Tyrone Wells, Sara Bareilles and Switchfoot," said Emma Jones as she pointed to posters on the walls of the classroom.
The check from State Farm pushed the nonprofit over the $1 million mark in money raised since 2002, but they aren't stopping there. The students are planning this years concert on Jan. 11.
"It's just really awesome to be in such a large group of students. There are a 140 students this year and all of their goals are just to help others around them," said Laurel Mead.
"At San Marcos we do a great job of trying to make economics come alive and could usually be a pretty dry and boring subject, and to make it this fun and exciting while giving back and serving the under served has been a fantastic model," said DeVries.
The program is making its way into other schools including one in Ojai and Sacramento.
The class not only teaches real-life economics, 96 percent of the students pass their AP exam. The national average is just 60 percent.