The Protect Each Other organization is a misnomer for PEO, which actually stands for Philanthropic Educational Organization. It is an organization dedicated to promoting educational opportunities for women. It was founded in 1869 in Mount Pleasant, Iowa.
The PEO was founded by students of the Iowa Wesleyan College. Since its inception, the "sisterhood" has grown to nearly 250,000 members. The organization supports at least six international philanthropies, or projects, to help women achieve their educational goals.
The organization owns and operates Cottey College, an all-girls liberal arts college in Nevada, Missouri. The PEO offers scholarships and financial aid based on academic performance, test scores, extracurricular activities and academic recommendations. As of 2014, more than $235 million in financial aid has been awarded to more than 90,000 women.
The organization also offers the Educational Loan Fund, a low-interest, revolving loan; the International Peace Scholarship and the Program for Continuing Education, both need-based scholarships; and the Scholar Awards and STAR, two merit-based scholarships. Recipients of these grants, loans and awards do not necessarily have to be active members of PEO.
The PEO International Sisterhood's headquarters is located in Des Moines, Iowa, but it has charters across the United States. The group also has an international chapter.