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

APRO Scholarship Star: Tyler O’Neill

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 more than $1 million dollars to date – empowering students connected with RTO to pursue college degrees and successful futures.

Centralia, Illinois, native Tyler O’Neill – one of the 36 deserving 2023 APRO Scholarship recipients – grew up in rent-to-own; his dad, Joseph O’Neill has been in the business for over a quarter-century, and with APRO member SKC Enterprises Inc. dba Rent One for the past 18 years. He currently serves as a Regional Manager for the company.

“My dad and sports have always played huge roles in my life,” says Tyler. “My father has always talked with me about his days at work, about the value of hard work, and the importance of being grateful, being humble, and being a team player. I grew up playing soccer, basketball, and baseball and, because of the family values at Rent One, my dad was always there for me. He came to and encouraged me at almost all of my games, and I was always excited whenever it was Tuesday, because it was his day off. It gave us time to do things we enjoyed together, like playing catch or fielding ground balls.”

Once Tyler reached Centralia High School, he homed in on baseball as his sport of choice – making First Team All-Conference – while keeping his grades high enough to belong to both the National Honor Society and the high honor roll at his school. Tyler also managed to contribute a lot of volunteer work in his community, including coaching at a youth baseball camp, helping fix up local baseball fields, mowing yards, and helping lead a food drive that provided more than $5k worth of food to the Salvation Army and the Centralia Community Benevolent Association Food Pantry.

Today, thanks in part to his APRO Scholarship, the 19-year-old is pitching for the Big Blue of Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois – about two hours from his hometown. A first-generation college student, Tyler’s studying toward a degree in Cybersecurity; he loves the coding element involved in the field, as well as the job security it promises for the future.

He feels strongly he wouldn’t be where he is now without his dad or without RTO.

“Spending time with my dad improved both my academic and my athletic skills,” Tyler says. “But I also learned some of my most valuable life lessons from him, and because of rent-to-own. Seeing my dad treat everyone the same at work, being kind and caring to employees and customers alike, has left a real, positive impact on me. Not everyone you come across is having a great day or even a good life at that moment. Being the person who can offer them understanding and support during those tough times can really help turn things around for them.”

Tyler’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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