The Bronx, notorious for decades for crime and poverty, is working hard to shed its reputation. A renaissance is brewing, as investors help breathe new life into the borough with state-of-the-art sports complexes, shopping facilities and restaurants.

But as we rebuild the Bronx, we must stay true to the community's values and its rich melting pot of cultures from West Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America, among others. Many Bronx residents are new to the country, but they aren't strangers to the American dream. They want a chance to prosper and succeed, and that begins with the opportunity to attend college.

As middle and high school principals, we realize that efforts to transform the borough should include not only private investments in commercial enterprises, but also investments in education.

Officials revealed over the summer that state test scores dropped citywide, and the gap in results between low-income and high-income districts increased. On the heels of these results, our district's officials united to identify solutions to help public school students meet the new state standards. But classroom changes alone won't put us on the level to compete with other districts. We must provide students with support outside of class.

That's why we're implementing our version of the Community School Model, a successful initiative designed to extend a student's education through after- school and summer programs. The model multiplies community resources by equipping schools with various family support services -- health care, counseling, food programs and job preparation -- in addition to first-rate curricula.

These programs are costly, however, and depend on much-needed grants, partners and volunteers.

As our borough undergoes this economic revival, we'd like to challenge investors to consider the ways in which future generations can sustain the growth. Charitable giving is always helpful, but the most effective outreach is to educate students about effective businesses and introduce them to business leaders, who can contribute by offering job-shadowing, internships and mentors. Combined with school, these partnerships will give our students the tools they need to be successful.

Ramon Gonzalez is the founding principal at MS/HS 223, the Laboratory School of Finance and Technology, and Edward Tom is the founding principal at the Bronx Center for Science and Mathematics.