Startups focused on environmental issues and selected for funding by Raleigh-based Cherokee won’t have to look very long for some expert counsel.

William McDonough, an author and award-winning leading proponent of environmental sustainability, is teaming up with investment company Cherokee to provide advice and support for companies selected to receive funding and support in the Cherokee Challenge program. 

McDonough has partnered with Cherokee, an investment firm focused on the environment, to work with startups. The program’s name has been named to the Cherokee-McDonough Challenge to reflect his support.

“It is a great honor to have William McDonough involved in our efforts,” said JT Vaughn, who is director of the Cherokee Challenge. “Entrepreneurs are forced to focus on blocking and tackling, so they have little time to think about how to optimally articulate their environmental vision, strategy and impact. I can think of no one better in this regard than William McDonough, and I am thrilled our entrepreneurs will benefit from his counsel.”

The program serves as a business accelerator and incubator, providing $20,000 in funding, office space, mentoring and related services to up to as many as five firms. The program is in its third year and is currently accepting applications for this year’s spots. Deadline to apply is April 30.

McDonough is co-author of “Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things,” and “The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability — Designing for Abundance.” He has won numerous awards over the years and in 1999 was recognized as a “Hero of the Planet” by Time magazine. McDonough also was a guest speaker at the 2012 Cherokee Challenge. 

“The Cherokee-McDonough Challenge is important because it encourages and empowers solutions to the massive environmental challenges that face our world,” McDonough said in a statement. “As the keynote speaker at last year’s finale, I was inspired by the 2012 class. I look forward to being more involved this year and I hope our collective efforts increase the success rate and impact of these startups.”

The startups selected are expected to finish the program with a “working prototype, a refined and vetted environmental strategy, a professional web presence, knowledge of intellectual property strategy and tactics, investor-ready fundraising documents, a stronger network of investors and mentors, a polished pitch and a runway towards a Series A capital raise,” Cherokee says.