Philanthropic Educational Organization, a circle of kindred spirits encouraging and supporting one another—and women worldwide

P.E.O. (Philanthropic Educational Organization) has brought together more than half a million women in the United States and Canada who are passionate about helping women advance through education while supporting and motivating them. Founded on January 21, 1869, by seven students at Iowa Wesleyan College in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, this circle of kindred spirits – bonded by their enthusiasm for women’s opportunities – eventually expanded to include women off campus as well.

The Mission

As a philanthropic organization, P.E.O. supports six philanthropies that include ownership of Cottey College, a woman’s college in Nevada, Missouri, and five programs that provide higher educational assistance through scholarships, grants, awards, and loans. Local P.E.O. chapter fundraisers and individual and chapter donations support our philanthropies, while local chapters seek applicants. Arizona has three more scholarship funds available to young women to help defray costs related to Cottey College, plus a fund for those with temporary special needs.


P.E.O., a nonprofit organization, is clearly making a difference in the lives of women all over the world. Since its inception in 1869, it has helped more than 116,000 women pursue educational goals by providing over $383 million in grants, scholarships, awards, and loans.

As of April 2021, P.E.O. has awarded:

  • Educational Loan Fund dollars totaling $229.5 million.
  • International Peace Scholarships totaling $43.5 million.
  • Program for Continuing Education grants totaling $65.1 million.
  • Scholar Awards totaling $30.1 million.
  • P.E.O. STAR Scholarships totaling $14.9 million. (Graduating seniors can apply for the $2,500 STAR Scholarship, and can get information through local P.E.O. Chapters or their high school counselor.)

Local Chapters

As of March 1, 2021, Arizona has 145 chapters with 5,573 members. There are eleven chapters in the greater Prescott area. Cheryl Todd, Chapter Y director said, “Friendship is the cornerstone of P.E.O. My best friend, a legacy P.E.O. (whose mother, aunt and grandmother were all P.E.O.s) graduated from Cottey College and invited me to become a P.E.O. I had two daughters about to enter college and was passionate about women being able to advance through education. P.E.O.s support each other while they encourage, motivate, and assist other women with their education through scholarships. It was a perfect fit for me.”


P.E.O. membership is by invitation, offering potential members the opportunity to learn about the organization and chapters the opportunity to get to know prospective members and explain the personal commitment and responsibilities that come with membership.

Membership begins at the local chapter. Women can become members after being introduced and invited by current members of a local chapter. Talking to a member in your community will give you an opportunity to find out more about their chapter and what P.E.O. means to them.

Women over the age of 18 are eligible to be considered for P.E.O. membership. P.E.O. does not discriminate against any woman based on age, ethnicity, religion, or education. The P.E.O. Sisterhood is based on friendship and mutual respect. P.E.O. is not a political or political action group. Individually, each member may work for causes of her choice outside of P.E.O. As members, we respect one another’s political and/or religious views and activities. We meet to support each other, for fellowship and for the common and uniting purpose of assisting women with their educational goals.

Benefits of Membership

Personally, P.E.O. is a source of encouragement and support for women, for members through chapter life, and for women who benefit from P.E.O.’s philanthropic assistance. Collectively, P.E.O.s take great pride in providing educational opportunities for women all over the world.

P.E.O. is a respected, established women’s organization with a multi-generational membership, where members:

  • Participate in philanthropic outreach to positively impact women’s lives in their community, state/province and worldwide.
  • Help to provide life-changing educational opportunities for women.
  • Are involved in opportunities for personal growth and advanced leadership skills.
  • Share in fun and friendship with wonderful and diverse women.
  • Become part of a Sisterhood, beyond their own chapter, which provides loving concern and support to all members.

For more information about becoming a member please visit: or contact local Chapter Y director, Cheryl Todd at For information about Cottey College, visit