Our History

Modeled on AEF’s 30-year Service

BCEF was founded by AIDS Emergency Fund (AEF) in 2001 and is modeled on AEF’s 30-year service to people living with disabling HIV/AIDS. AEF was inspired to initiate a service to honor and support the women caregivers to gay men during the early years of the AIDS pandemic when two cornerstone AEF contributors, Community Activists Leslie Ewing and her partner Rebecca LePere, faced their own health challenges.


When Rebecca was diagnosed with breast cancer, she and Leslie were struck by the lack of support available to women in the same waiting room and the disparity of services due to personal finances. Rebecca and Leslie asked AEF to utilize its expertise and networks to build a program for people battling breast cancer.

Community Support from the Start

With an enabling grant from Komen San Francisco Bay Area Affiliate and a personal donation from Anchorwoman Faith Fancher (who had befriended Rebecca during both women’s breast cancer treatment), AEF launched the new initiative in 2001. Rebecca lived to help found BCEF, but succumbed to breast cancer in 2002. Faith Fancher lost her battle in 2003.


BCEF grew quickly and incorporated into a separate non-profit agency in 2005. In early 2009, BCEF expanded its service area to include San Mateo County. AEF and BCEF continue to share administrative resources to maximize direct assistance for people in need.

18 Years and Counting

In June 2011, with funding from Komen SF, BCEF expanded services again by offering emergency financial assistance to Santa Clara county – a county with extensive urban and rural poverty that is twice the population of San Francisco and San Mateo counties combined.


To date, BCEF has provided more than $4.0 million in assistance to more than 4,000 low-income women and their families. Despite our expansive growth, we are unique in that we have never denied assistance to a qualified applicant nor created a waiting list for aid.

“I support BCEF in honor of a loved one who never stopped working to make life better for all people facing life-threatening illness. The memory of her grace and courage inspires me to continue supporting the community so dear to her heart.”


Leslie Ewing, BCEF Founder