THE P.E.O. SISTERHOOD was founded January 21, 1869, at Iowa Wesleyan College, Mount Pleasant, Iowa.
P.E.O. is a philanthropic and educational organization interested in giving women increased opportunities for higher education. There are 5,866 local chapters in the United States and Canada with 251,870 active members. The educational and philanthropic purposes of P.E.O. are accomplished through International, state and local projects. These are the six educational projects:
- The P.E.O. Educational Loan Fund was established in 1907 as a revolving fund that would lend money to worthy women students to assist them in securing a higher education. Since its inception the fund has lent more than $145,000,000 to almost 44,000 women. Interest is 2%. Maximum amount: $12,000 ($20,000 for doctorates). Applicants must be sponsored by a local chapter.
- Cottey College, in Nevada, Missouri, was founded in 1884. Over 8500 women have graduated from Cottey since the first class in 1897. Since 1927 the P.E.O. Sisterhood has owned and supported the college. Cottey is a fully accredited, four-year liberal arts college for women, providing its students with quality education, leadership opportunities and cultural experiences.
- The P.E.O. International Peace Scholarship fund was established in 1949 to provide scholarships for international students who wished to pursue graduate study in the United States and Canada, and to encourage peace through education and understanding. To date, nearly 7000 women from over 152 countries have received over $30,000,000.
- The P.E.O. Program for Continuing Education was established in 1973 to provide need-based grants to women in the United States and Canada whose education has been interrupted and who find it necessary to return to school to support themselves and their families. Since it began, this project has awarded more than $41,000,000 in small grants (up to $3000). Applicants are recommended and sponsored by P.E.O. chapters.
- The P.E.O. Scholar Award program was established in 1991 to provide substantial awards to women of the United States and Canada who are pursuing advanced degrees or are engaged in advanced study and research. Since its beginning, 1815 awards have been given totaling over $17,500,000. Nominations for this award come from local chapters.
- The STAR Scholarship, established in 2009, provides recognition for high school women by enabling high school seniors to pursue post-secondary education at accredited institutions. In its first five years the Scholarship has awarded more than $2,600,000 to 1064 young women.
The P.E.O. Foundation is a nonprofit corporation established in 1961 to encourage tax-deductible gifts to the educational and charitable projects of the P.E.O. Sisterhood. Because it qualifies as a charity under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, gifts and bequests made to and in the name of the Foundation are deductible for U.S. and state income, estate and gift tax purposes.
The Headquarters of the P.E.O. Sisterhood, including the P.E.O. Foundation and The P.E.O. Record (the official publication of the P.E.O. Sisterhood), is the P.E.O. Executive Office, 3700 Grand Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa 50312-2899. The telephone number is (515) 255-3153; the fax number is (515) 255-3820; and the Web site is www.peointernational.org.