What Do the Letters P.E.O. Stand for?
Philanthropic Educational Organization. This meaning is officially listed Part I, Article I of the Constitution where it states "The name of this organization is The P.E.O. Sisterhood (Philanthropic Educational Organization).".
If asked for more information, or for those who may not think that this is the "true" meaning, you might use the following:
When P.E.O. began in 1869 it was a college society, similar to later sororities. During this era, keeping "secrets" was a common way to create bonds of friendship. While our members continue to honor the founders by keeping the literal meaning of P.E.O. for ourselves, another appropriate meaning for those letters might be derived from the fact that P.E.O. "provides educational opportunities" for women – a mission that members are very proud of.
How Does a Person join P.E.O.?
A correct response is that a woman is sponsored by five members in the chapter. The sponsorship and invitation process includes getting to know the prospective member well, and explaining some of the personal commitment and responsibilities that come with membership. If a woman should be invited to join a particular chapter, she may then make her decision based on what she has learned about the chapter and P.E.O. in general.
What is a "Project?"
As a philanthropic organization, P.E.O. supports five philanthropies.
These are often referred to as the P.E.O. "projects," and they may also be described as "programs." Throughout P.E.O. printed pieces these three terms are used interchangeably. P.E.O.'s International philanthropies, or projects, are the scholarship, grant, loan and award programs and Cottey College. All are designed to assist women in furthering their education.
Local P.E.O. chapter fund-raisers are the primary means of supporting these philanthropies.