The P.E.O. Story

Women Helping Women Reach the Stars... Through History.

Steeped In History.

THE P.E.O. SISTERHOOD was founded January 21, 1869, at Iowa Wesleyan College, Mount Pleasant, Iowa-is a philanthropic and educational organization interested in bringing to women increased opportunities for higher education. There are over 5,800 local chapters in the United States and Canada with over 210,00 active members. The educational and philanthropic purposes of P.E.O. are accomplished through International, state and local projects.

The six educational projects supported by P.E.O. are:


The P.E.O. Educational Loan Fund was established as a revolving fund to lend money to worthy women students to assist them in securing a higher education. Since it was established in 1907, more than $76,300,000 has been loaned to more than 38,000 women. Applicants must be sponsored by a local


Cottey College was founded in 1884 and owned and supported by the P.E.O. Sisterhood since 1927. Cottey is a fully accredited liberal arts college for women in Nevada, Missouri, providing its students with quality education, leadership opportunities and cultural experiences.


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/or their families. This project has awarded more than $18,000,000 in small grants to more than 20,000 women. Applicants are recommended and sponsored by P.E.O. chapters.


P.E.O. Scholar Awards 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 inception, 795 awards have been given or a total of $5,115,000. Nominations for this award come from local chapters.

P.E.O. STAR Scholarship (Scholastic Talent Accomplishment Recognition)

P.E.O. STAR Scholarship (Scholastic Talent Accomplishment Recognition) is P.E.O.’s newest project, being established in September of 2009. The scholarship was created to provide recognition for high school women pursuing post-secondary education at accredited institutions. While in it’s pilot phase, 151 recipients each received a $2,500 scholarship. Applicants are nominated by P.E.O. chapters.


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), are located in 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