I don't know - "encourage" just doesn't conjure up the same ideas for me as "fördern", it makes me think of giving people confidence or hope:
encourage verb (encouraged, encouraging) 1 to give support, confidence or hope to someone. 2 to urge someone to do something. 3 to promote or recommend something or someone. http://www.chambersharrap.co.uk/chambers/chre...
whereas the meaning of "fördern" is to help people get ahead:
1. a) in seiner Entfaltung, bei seinem Vorankommen (finanziell) unterstützen (DUDEN)
I know "encourage" can mean to give someone support other than emotional support, but it has those other meanings too. Perhaps "support" would be clearer?
Is it just personal preference that puts you off "chances", eric, or do you understand it differently?