Association of Progressive Rental Organizations | America’s Champion for Rent-to-Own

APRO Scholarship Star: Tanner Nolte

Tanner Nolte | 2023 APRO Scholarship Star

For more than a dozen years, the APRO Charitable Foundation has annually provided scholarships to rent-to-own professionals and their families. APRO members have contributed generously to the APRO Scholarship Fund – awarding 483 scholarships totaling $1,099,250 to date – empowering students connected with RTO to pursue college degrees and successful futures.

Missouri native Tanner Nolte – one of the 36 deserving 2023 APRO Scholarship recipients – is also the the Tiger Cleek Memorial Scholarship awardee. The Cleek family – of Cleek’s Home Furnishings/Rental & Sales – established this special scholarship to honor rent-to-own legend “Tiger” John Cleek.

Tanner’s mother, Kimberly Nolte, began her rent-to-own career after she and her son moved to Columbia, Missouri, in 2016, and she joined Cleek’s as Office Manager. Over the past eight years, Kimberly has moved up in the company and today serves as Human Resources Manager – thanks to certification through a program paid for by Cleek’s.

Tanner attends the State Technical College of Missouri, where he’s earning his associate degree in Precision Machining and Technology. Tanner intends to pursue a career as a Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machining operator or programmer; CNC machining is a manufacturing process in which pre-programmed computer software dictates the movement of factory tools and machinery.

“Precision machining wasn’t even on my radar until I toured the program at State Tech,” Tanner says. “After looking around the shop and talking with some of the instructors, I knew machining was what I wanted to pursue. I enjoy the problem-solving involved in machining and programming, especially creating parts and assemblies from start to finish.”

Tanner’s curriculum includes about eight projects to complete every semester, with only about seven days permitted for each. Tanner is one of the few students who consistently completes all projects on-time and fully within tolerance (the permittable deviation from desired part dimensions), working hard to maintain high marks.

Tanner is also a nationally registered and Missouri-licensed Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), using his free weekends to get in time on the ambulance as a driver and patient-care provider. Additionally, Tanner is the Vice President of State Tech’s Machine Tool Club, and practices Brazilian Jiu Jitsu through the college’s Leadership, Strength, and Respect Club.

“I’ve been practicing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for four years,” says Tanner. “It emphasizes removing all ego and anger before participating, and respecting your opponents, win or lose. It helps improve physical and mental strength, and through student-led lessons, the club helps students become better leaders and teachers, too.”

Tanner is aiming to get through college debt-free, with help from his mom, A+ grants, and scholarships like the APRO/Cleek’s one. Tanner says the Tiger Cleek Memorial Scholarship is just the company’s latest, greatest way of supporting his mom and him.

“The owners at Cleek’s support their employees both at work and at home,” he concludes. “My mom’s job provides good pay, security, and flexibility – she’s always been able to support my extracurricular activities, thanks to the company’s family values. The RTO industry has been vital to not only my mom’s success, but to mine, as well.”

Tanner’s is one of the dozens of positive stories that generous donations from the RTO community make happen each year. Click here to learn more and contribute to this invaluable industry effort.

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