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Paso Robles chapter of P.E.O. helps local women 

Ashley Jones & family

Ashley Jones & family.

Organization educates women through scholarships, grants, loans, and stewardship of Cottey College

–Founded 150 years ago, P.E.O. – Philanthropic Educational Organization – is one of the oldest women’s organizations in North America with close to 6,000 chapters and more than 500,000 members in the United States and Canada who are passionate about helping women advance through education. P.E.O. International has helped 114,000 women across North America pursue their life goals by providing over $369 million in educational assistance.

P.E.O. Chapter HL, founded in Paso Robles in 1992, is the local chapter of P.E.O. International. With 56 active members, the Paso Robles chapter has helped 52 women with awards totaling over $126,385 in financial support since 2002.

A non-profit philanthropic and social organization, P.E.O. has been working behind the scenes for years and has only recently decided to be more forthcoming about the financial aid and moral support it provides to women trying to navigate a more productive and financially secure future for themselves and their families.

With a mission statement of “Women helping women reach for the stars!” P.E.O. celebrates the advancement of women, educates women through scholarships, grants, loans, and stewardship of Cottey College, and motivates women to achieve their highest aspirations. Its efforts are grounded in the belief that when women are supported in their educational efforts, it creates a lasting positive impact on families, communities, and countries around the globe.

“Our local chapter of P.E.O. focuses on helping women in north San Luis Obispo County,” says Chapter HL President Joan Burgess. “Our Kiper-Twist Scholarship Fund is a need-based scholarship established in 2002 in honor of two outstanding members of our chapter who demonstrated a lifelong commitment to the education of young women. North SLO County residents and high school graduates with a minimum 2.8 GPA or GED equivalent are eligible to apply and can attend a school of their choice.” The Paso Robles chapter also helps direct candidates to apply to P.E.O.’s seven California state and P.E.O. International’s six scholarship, grant and loan programs.

Membership in P.E.O. is open to women 18 years old and older, and scholarship applicants are encouraged to research P.E.O. scholarships, grants, and loans available to North SLO County, California state, and U.S. residents at

Ashley Jones, a Kyper-Twist and California P.E.O. scholarships recipient, is a 42-year-old single mother of two daughters (9 and 6) and a graduate student pursuing an online Masters in Speech Pathology at NYU.

“P.E.O. support has significantly impacted me both financially and emotionally,” said Jones. “I am trying to get through graduate school without accumulating exorbitant debt, and I am succeeding with savings and by applying for scholarships. The P.E.O. scholarships will cover the cost of my books, as well as supplemental expenses associated with my degree and clinical rotations.

Knowing there is a group of strong, smart, and successful women in my corner who are willing to help me has been convicting and encouraging. My goal is to pay back both the scholarships and the support to a future graduate student as soon as I am in a position to do so.

I am proud to be setting an example of hard work and perseverance for my daughters and look forward to a successful career as a Speech Language Pathologist after graduate school.  I hope they will learn that they can achieve almost anything they put their mind to with enough hard work and sacrifice.”

Angela Lopez.

Angela Lopez another Kyper-Twist & California P.E.O. scholarship recipient, is a 31-year-old single mother of a 12-year-old boy, a graduate student studying Marriage & Family Therapy with an emphasis on Latinx Mental Health at Antioch University (Santa Barbara).

“PEO has made a tremendous impact in my life,” says Lopez. “PEO provided me not only with financial assistance for graduate school, but also hope and strength to persevere despite difficulty.

I was born in the U.S. of immigrant parents who decided to raise me back in their country of origin, Mexico. I completed my BA in Clinical Psychology there and decided to return to the U.S. to pursue better career and lifestyle opportunities. Being a U.S. citizen and being able to pursue a goal of higher education was a real privilege, but I faced many challenges when transferring my degree. My son has witnessed the efforts made to accomplish my goals in this country, and I can see how modeling this behavior has made him a great student and kind little human.

I would be honored to join P.E.O. in the future so that I might help women reach their dreams. Seeing the challenges of my community, I hope to build a practice in San Luis Obispo with Latinos given that my background allows me to share with them in a profoundly compassionate way.”

For more information about the P.E.O. Paso Robles Chapter HL and P.E.O. International, visit

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About the author: News Staff

The news staff of the Paso Robles Daily News wrote or edited this story from local contributors and press releases. The news staff can be reached at