YouthBuild Charter School, which gives dropouts an opportunity to earn high school diplomas while learning job skills, is one of two local programs awarded $1.1 million grants from the U.S. Department of Labor.

Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez announced grants totaling nearly $76 million to 72 YouthBuild programs in 31 states Wednesday.

"YouthBuild equips young people with the tools they need to realize their potential and the job skills they need to climb career ladders and punch their tickets to the middle class," Perez said in a media teleconference. "Closing opportunity gaps for America's young people is a matter of basic fairness and critical to our ability to compete in the global economy."

Connection Training Services in Tioga, which operates a separate YouthBuild program, also received a $1.1 million grant. Officials there could not be reached for comment.

Meredith Molloy, director of development at YouthBuild Charter School in North Philadelphia, said the school would use the money for academic and occupational programs for a total of 72 students over two years and provide follow-up services in the third year.

The charter educates students aged 18 to 20 who have dropped out of school. In addition to their academic work, students receive training for jobs in construction, health care, early childhood education, and business/customer services.

martha.woodall@philly 215-854-2789