2020 Determined To Educate, Inc.
Virtual Awards Fundraising Gala

Determined To Educate, Inc. 12th Annual Awards Virtual Fundraising Gala – Thursday, December 3, 2020, via Zoom 

Watch the replay with your family and friends while socially distancing! This year there were no tickets available but we are so grateful for your donation to continue with our programs! Just click on the donate button on the right side of this page.

This year we hosted our 12th Annual Awards Fundraising Gala virtually on the evening of December 3rd. Our theme this year is “Honoring Every Day Heroes”. Those who were and are still on the frontlines during the pandemic. We honored those essential employees that put their lives on the line in every industry deemed essential so that we are able to get our necessities. Those who were at work at 4am stocking shelves, disinfecting and cleaning to make sure we were safe; Those who were there to care for the sick and elderly; Those who continued to educate our young people outside of the classroom and on computer screens we SALUTE YOU ALL!! 

James ‘Talent’ Harris




And this year’s honorees…

Chuck D

Public Enemy

Special Appreciation Award Honoree

Public Enemy are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They’ve got a GRAMMY Award, platinum records
and sold-out concerts in nearly every country in the world. But their biggest honor isn’t something to
put on a shelf or hang on a wall. It’s their ability to stand up to speak out against social injustice. To
shine a glaring, jarring spotlight onto the plight of the oppressed and to call for change.
Manufacturing and selling rebellion is easy. An angry scowl here, a clenched fist there, and suddenly you
have the appearance of revolt. Living a life of authentic insurrection, however, is an entirely different
thing. Public Enemy embody rebellion, long revealing things as they really are, but also demanding how
they should be.

Public Enemy have proven that rebellion is more than the sound of a musical genre, the culture of a
social class, or the color of a skin; it is an unmovable, unmistakable state of mind and heart. PE are
hellbent on creating change where it is needed most. Determined to give voice to those who have long
been ignored, unafraid to question institutional injustices, and intent on challenging any and all
obstacles to social justice, Public Enemy have resisted with unprecedented intensity and eloquence.
Public Enemy’s classic albums are the soundtrack to hip-hop’s rise as a form of social and political
commentary. Their debut record, Yo! Bum Rush The Show, was named Album of the Year by NME, with
Rolling Stone claiming that the release “heralded hip-hop’s great leap forward” and The New York Times
calling Public Enemy “the voice of a community.” Their sophomore effort, 1988’s It Takes a Nation of
Millions To Hold Us Back, was, and still is, one of the most important records ever made. The New York
Times added it to their list of 25 Most Significant Albums of the Last Century, crediting the record with
setting “a newer, prouder agenda for hip-hop” in which rap was at its “most politically and musically

Fear of a Black Planet featured Public Enemy’s signature song, “Fight The Power,” used by Spike Lee in
his film Do The Right Thing. Rolling Stone magazine called it “the ultimate anti-establishment rallying
cry.” The album also included the powerful “911 Is a Joke” and “Welcome To The Terrordome.”
Apocalypse 91…The Enemy Strikes Black carried on the group’s legacy, hitting #4 on the album chart and
going platinum. The record included “By the Time I Get To Arizona,” an emotional demand that America
confront race relations after the state’s governor refused to recognize the new Martin Luther King, Jr.
national holiday.   

By 1999, Public Enemy became one of the first acts to become completely independent from the major
record label system, recording for Chuck D’s own Slam Jamz record label. That same year, Terminator X
retired from the group and DJ Lord took over the turntables.

Public Enemy’s “Harder Than You Think” went to #1 on the UK urban and indie singles chart and to #4
on the official UK singles chart in 2012, their tenth Top 40 hit in England and their highest charting single

In 2016, Chuck D co-founded the supergroup Prophets Of Rage with members of Rage Against The
Machine, B-Real of Cypress Hill and DJ Lord. They relentlessly toured the world, headlining festivals and
arenas around the globe until 2019. They also released an album and an EP.

This summer, Public Enemy returned with a new song and video, “State of the Union (STFU),” produced
by DJ Premier. A fiery return to the frontlines as they take on Donald Trump and his fascist regime, PE
gave away the track to fans for free.

In July 2020, Public Enemy and Def Jam reunited to release “Fight the Power 2020,” the explosive remix
that opened the 2020 BET Awards featuring Nas, Rapsody, Black Thought, YG and Questlove. The track
will be included in the group’s forthcoming Def Jam album, “Quick in the Desert,” scheduled for release
later this year.

As America faces a fresh rebellion against racial division and social inequality, it is no surprise that the
world looks to hip-hop’s original champions of change to continue the fight alongside them.

Awilda La Fontaine

Certified Nurse Aide

Essential Hero Honoree

Awilda La Fontaine started working as a home health aide in 1995 . After a few years, she decided that she wanted to become a Nurse Aide. Ms. La Fontaine worked during the day as a home health aide and attended school at night. At the time, she was a single mother and found it so difficult to juggle work school and family. She indeed accomplished her goal. Awilda became a licensed Nurse Aide in 1998 and has worked ever since caring for patients in need. She treats her patients the way she hopes to be treated when she is older; with respect and kindness. On the weekends,  she likes to pamper the patients. Saturday is nail day and Sunday is hair day. This goes for both her male and female patients. She believes small gestures can make someone’s day. Help us in Congratulating Awilda La Fontaine with the 2020 Essential Hero Award.

Omar Morgan

Fork Lift Operator

Essential Hero Honoree

Omar Morgan is a humble 35 year old male born and raised in Jamaica. He was raised by his grandmother while is Mom was away overseas. Living in Jamaica had its up and downs. He started in the self-employed field and was always a hard working individual who was set on achieving his goal. In August 2014, Mr. Morgan set sail to the United States where he has been ever since. After his arrival to American he immediately started his job search where in November of that same year he landed a job at Costco’s whole sale as a maintenance worker.  He then worked his way up to Forklift Operator and Customer service helping those who needed assistance. Omar works 10 times harder to set an example for his 5 year old son who is Jamaica. He hopes for his son to have a better life than he did when he was younger. Morgan takes pride in his work an the community he serves. He is eager to be a better version of his yesterday’s self. Please Join us in congratulating Mr. Omar Morgan with the 2020 Determined To Educate, Inc. Essential Hero Award.

Anita and Chris Vasconcellos

Chander Auto Group

Essential Hero Honorees


Their story began in a beautiful Sunday afternoon in 1987 in Richmond Hill Queens. Anita and Chris met and continued to develop their love into a beautiful business relationship. In 1990 Chris decided to leave Mercedes Benz and to take a chance on a dream that might or might not come true. And that dream indeed came true for An immigrant from Guyana who migrated to the United States. He fulfilled his dream as a successful business man by opening Chander Auto in 1990. Chander Auto was first located on 24th street and 10th Avenue. The business then moved into east Harlem in 2004 where he expanded and built it into a his very own Auto Repair Facility. This year has marks his 30th anniversary for having this successful business. Chris and Anita are all about community and lend a helping hand where they can. Together they have two sons, Marcus a mechanical engineer and Brandon a civil engineer who is set to graduate in the spring of 2021. 

Tonight we congratulate Anita and Chris Vasconcellos and honor them with the 2020 Essential Hero Award.

Dr. Robert Jiao

Westchester Animal Hospital

Essential Hero Honoree


Dr. Robert Jiao graduated from University of the Philippines College of Veterinary medicine as part of the Class of 1992. That same year he joined the Philippine Veterinary Board Topnotcher.  Dr. Jiao is Owner and Veterinarian of The Westchester Animal Hospital which opened in 1998 and The Haverstraw Animal Hospital which opened in 2018.  He served as Former City Veterinarian of Yonkers, Mt. Vernon, Former K9 Unit Veterinarian of The Mt. Vernon Police Dept. and was apart of The New York State Trooper and Botanical Garden Police Dog Unit. 

He is also a Consultant for The Westchester and Putnam County SPCA and Assists The Westchester District Attorney Office on Animal Cruelty Cases. 

Dr. Robert Jiao is a Member of The U.P. Society of Men Alumni Association, The American veterinary medical association, The New York State Veterinary Medical Association and The International Veterinary Forensics Association.