What Is the Purpose of the P.E.O. Organization?


Quick Answer

The purpose of P.E.O. is to provide a source of support for women and to encourage women to realize their full potential in whatever they choose to pursue. Since its founding in 1869 by seven students at Iowa Wesleyan College, promoting educational opportunities for women continues to be P.E.O.'s primary philanthropic endeavor. In 2015, P.E.O. reported a membership of 250,000 in chapters across the United States and Canada. P.E.O.'s international headquarters are located in Des Moines, Iowa.

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Full Answer

The P.E.O. sisterhood, as the group refers to itself, sponsors six international projects providing educational grants, loans and awards. As of 2015, P.E.O. reports having awarded educational loans exceeding $143.6 million and through its International Peace and Star scholarship programs, over $31.6 million of scholarships. Grants for continuing education made by P.E.O. total over $43 million, and it reports scholar awards of $16 million. While a recipient of P.E.O. funds does not have to have a P.E.O. member, she must, with the exception of International Peace Scholarship awardees, be sponsored by a P.E.O. chapter.

P.E.O. also owns and operates Cottey College, with campuses in Nevada and Missouri. The P.E.O. sisterhood has supported Cottey College, an independent liberal arts and sciences college for women, and its 8,500 graduates since 1927.

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