Frontier Partners with Hiring our Heroes

Frontier is proud to partner with @HiringOurHeroes in support of its Corporate Fellowship Program for veterans and military spouses. Frontier has already welcomed its first fellow, Alexia D’Arco, an active duty Navy JAG spouse with over a decade of experience in foreign affairs and international security issues. Alexia worked for former SecDef Chuck Hagel and served as a Presidential Management Fellow (PMF) at the State Department. She holds an M.A. in Security Studies from Georgetown University and has been an Adjunct at Rhodes College, Temple University (Japan), and the University of Memphis. Learn more at

Exploring Cost-Effectiveness for Peacebuilding

Armed conflict has increased dramatically in the last 10 years, with the number of active conflicts increasing by over 33% and battle-related deaths increasing nearly ten-fold. This occurred despite almost $400 billion dollars of development assistance in conflict affected countries. As development, conflict prevention, and peacebuilding professionals we must do better. In this report, we explore the possibilities and benefits of using cost-effectiveness analysis to get more impact for every dollar spent on peacebuilding and conflict prevention.

Specifically, we examine whether it is possible to conduct cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA) given the nascent state of effectiveness data within the community. Although the data is not perfect, our conclusion is that the necessary data is publicly available and sufficient to test CEA as an analytical method in the peacebuilding context. We recommend piloting the use of CEA as a tool to provide peacebuilders with empirical data about cost and effectiveness to guide decision-making and resource allocation. We provide an in-depth discussion of CEA and its application to the peacebuilding context.

We also discuss many of the challenges associated with this effort in our research findings and provide recommendations to overcome them.

View the Summary below:                             View the Full Report below:


For access to the full set of resources used in the development of this report, you can request access to our research library at the following link:  


Frontier Travels to Northeast Nigeria


Frontier recently returned from Nigeria, where the team conducted a three-week assessment to better understand the changing strategies, tactics, and influence of Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa in the Lake Chad Region. In Abuja and Borno State, Frontier connected with academics, activists, civil society organizations, international non-governmental organizations, and security actors to explore the region’s dynamic history, discuss the current problem set, and learn how multiple stakeholders are adapting in such a fluid environment. We are deeply grateful to all who shared their thoughts and experiences with us, and sincerely thank everyone who ensured the trip was a success.

This assessment served as the catalyst for an exciting project that Frontier is just beginning. We will report back with more soon!


Learning from Complex Crises

As a follow-on project to the successful Fragility Study,  Frontier was awarded USIP’s project on “3D Learning from Complex Crises”  to identify lessons from defense, development, and diplomacy coordination and collaboration in complex environments. Complexity is a useful frame for thinking about U.S. engagement in fragile states because of the plethora of actors and dynamics present that demand an integrated, adaptive, and aligned U.S. approach. Complexity not only describes the operating environment in the three locations selected for this project, but also the nature of the U.S. policymaking apparatus; a heterogenous set of various (and sometimes competing) interests, processes, actors and dynamics. This project does not attempt to map the full complex ecosystem of each case, but offers it as an organizing concept under which various issues and dynamics such as state fragility, violent conflict and humanitarian disaster take root, affecting the efficacy of U.S. policies and actions.

In Burma (2009-2015) Jordan (2011-2016), and the Lake Chad Region (2013-2016), we investigated exactly what 3D actors did and how they did it to stave off further deterioration of crises. To inform our discovery learning process, and ensure the reports reflected the voices and experiences of the U.S. government personnel tirelessly working these issues, we pursued the following participatory methodology.

Over nine months, the Frontier team reviewed more than 100 unclassified documents, hosted three case workshops with current U.S. Government personnel working on these countries and regions, conducted 100 interviews, validated the emerging insights with senior leaders from across the 3D institutions in addition to other interagency partners, briefed deputies and leaders from across the government, and published the cases and overarching memos distilling the insights. It is our hope that the 3D insights and the perspectives presented in these cases will inform future interagency learning and improve interoperability among DoD and civilian agencies working on the frontlines of policy and implementation.

A Note of Gratitude

We are humbled by the commitment and sacrifices made by the men and women who serve the United States and its interests at home and abroad in some of the most challenging environments imaginable, furthering the national security objectives discussed herein. This project owes a significant debt of gratitude to all those who contributed to the case study process by recommending literature, participating in workshops, sharing reflections in interviews, and offering feedback on drafts of these cases. The stories and lessons described in these cases are dedicated to them. Thank you to the leadership of the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and its Center for Applied Conflict Transformation for supporting this study. Special thanks also to the US Agency for International Development (USAID) Office of Transition Initiatives (USAID/OTI) for assisting with the production of various maps and graphics within this report. Any errors or omissions are the responsibility of the authors alone.

Download the Case Studies

Breaking Boko Haram and Ramping Up Recovery: US-Lake Chad Region 2013-2016

From Pariah to Partner: The US Integrated Reform Mission in Burma 2009-2015

Preserving Stability Amidst Regional Conflagration: US-Jordan 2011-2016 

Peacebuilding Cost-Effectiveness


Frontier Design Group recently attended a roundtable discussion on the Cost-Effectiveness of Peacebuilding hosted by the Alliance for Peacebuilding and the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) where IEP presented its report on Measuring Peacebuilding Cost-Effectiveness. Our COO, Steve Sheamer, is a an Industrial Engineer and Certified Cost Analyst, who has spent his career analyzing costs in the software, consumer products, aerospace, technology, and defense industries. In this blog blost, Steve shares his insights on cost analysis and considerations for the peacebuilding community. Read More…..

Passing the Baton 2017

The US Institute of Peace hired Frontier to help design and execute the third Passing the Baton event, a two-day review of global challenges confronting the United States and the world during the transition between administrations. Frontier helped structure the high-level policy dinners attended by an exclusive group of past, present, and future Cabinet officials, as well as other senior foreign policy and national security figures. Read More…

Move from Impossible to Impact

Frontier supports The Omidyar Group’s System and Complexity Team, which just launched  a free online systems workshop with +Acumen.  Join the course by January 31st to become systems proficient. Read More…

Designing for Donors (D4D) with United Way Worldwide (UWW)

United Way Worldwide (UWW) is committed to finding high-impact, innovative ways to fulfill its mission, as evidenced by its over 125-year history and successful track record of working by, with, and through communities to advance the common good. UWW is working to further adapt its donor engagement strategies and tools, especially as it seeks to build new and enduring relationships with a donor base that spans generations, demographics, and degrees of digital literacy.

UWW’s Innovation Lab hired Frontier Design Group and its partner, Groove Leadership Lab, to teach design thinking to a core group of internal change-makers to help UWW better understand the emotional experience of giving and to leverage that insight to inform innovative ways to build a broader, deeper, and more active donor community. The goals of the project were to:

  • Maximize experiential learning through the design thinking methodology;
  • Build trust and excitement among a cross-functional group of change-makers at UWW; and
  • Surface new insights about why, when, and how donors give (or chose not to) today in order to suggest opportunities to modify or strengthen how they might give tomorrow.

A design-based approach helped uncover the relevant human needs of UWW’s donors and why they give their time and money, which complemented UWW’s ongoing and data-rich marketing and market segmentation efforts. The engagement yielded a deeper understanding of active, potential, and fragile donors’ experiences with giving and helped unlock new possibilities through prototypes of new product development, donor engagement services, and strategic marketing campaigns.