AFTER WORLD WAR I, AT THE 1919 CONVENTION OF SUPREME CHAPTER IN DENVER, COLORADO, P.E.O. Founder Franc Roads Elliott introduced a peace resolution stating, “We P.E.O. women would join hands in any movement looking toward the abolishment of war.” That resolution led to the creation of the United Victory Fund, which was eventually transformed into a scholarship program for international students in 1949, a program we now know as the P.E.O. International Peace Scholarship Fund (IPS).
Over the past 75 years, IPS awards total more than $51.2 million given to 6,866 women from 178 different countries. These figures truly illustrate the IPS mission, “Fostering Global Peace Through Education.”
Each year, the three-member board of trustees reviews applications from women across the globe who are pursuing graduate degrees in the United States and Canada. The number of scholarships awarded is limited by the funds available from member and chapter donations. Based upon recent statistics (including during the pandemic years), only about one-third of applicants receive funds because the money available runs out. Fullawards are $12,500. IPS also designates some funds for international students attending Cottey College, who can apply for a scholarship up to $6,250.
In recognition of the IPS fund’s support of international women for 75 years, the board of trustees encourages individuals and/or chapters to mark this milestone with a $75 donation (or donate $75 more than last year). As always, chapters donating $500 may choose to become a Partners in Peace (PIP) chapter and be matched with current IPS students. Chapters (or individuals) donating $12,500 can designate a Named Award for the coming year and be matched with a student as well. (Named Award students only match with one chapter; students with PIP chapters match with several chapters.) The more financial support IPS receives, the more international students benefit.
Every year, IPS recipients express heartfelt appreciation for the love and encouragement they receive from P.E.O.s. The personal support they receive from their PIP chapters is always a bonus. Students cherish those relationships not only during their time in graduate school, but for many years after returning home. For the PIP chapters, it is the cultural exchange that bonds chapter members and creates an experience that endures.
To learn more about a few of this year’s IPS students, visit the P.E.O. International website and look for the Moments for Peace item in the Resource Library. This document features 12 students with a photo and short bio. (Tip: These are great for mini reports in chapter meetings.) Likewise on the website, look for features on the special Named Award students (also to share in chapter meetings.) And as this New Year begins, circle March 8 on the calendar. Plan to mark International Women’s Day to remember how far women have come since 1949, to celebrate women’s achievements and to reinforce a commitment to women’s equality.
As we mark the 75th anniversary of the International Peace Scholarship Fund, each chapter can experience “The Art of Sisterhood” by donating to the fund and providing loving support to our IPS scholars.
Karen Neylon, Chair, P.E.O. International Peace Scholarship Fund Board of Trustees
International Peace Scholarship Fund