P.E.O. is a philanthropic educational organization for women, founded in 1869, that supports women by offering scholarships and aid. The organization believes so strongly in education that members have an instructional program at each meeting so they can continue to learn and enrich their own lives.
Virginia Alice Cottey Stockard held the firm belief that women deserved the same quality education as men. When she became a member of the P.E.O. Sisterhood, Ms. Stockard realized that P.E.O. paralleled her own goals and ideas about higher education for women.
The P.E.O. Sisterhood accepted ownership and the responsibility for the future of Cottey College in 1927. Therefore, Cottey College became the only nonsectarian college owned and supported by women.
With nearly 6,000 P.E.O. chapters, the Campaign Cabinet had a tremendous task of informing all P.E.O.s about the Defining Moment Campaign and motivating P.E.O.s to become involved. Chapters were active in the giving process through a horse race created to make it a fun and friendly competition.
BILs – husbands of P.E.O.s – have a special role in a P.E.O.'s life. They played a vital role in this Campaign as well. During the Campaign, BILs were given unprecedented access to events and information regarding Cottey College and the Campaign. For many, it was the first time they were actively involved in a P.E.O. cause. They were welcomed by Dr. Rogers' husband, Glenn, who engaged BILs in the goals of the Campaign. Often BILs came because they were curious, but they always left with a deeper understanding of what P.E.O. is really all about and the importance of Cottey as an educational option for women.